NGIA CEO update – 28 February 2018

Hi Everyone

The NGIA Conference was held in Hobart last week and it was a well-attended successful event.  For those of you unable to attend, I will provide some of my highlights, learnings and messages from the presentations I was able to attend.  For those who did attend, I hope my comments act as a reminder on ideas to help in your business.

“The Growing Edge” – this was the theme of the conference with a focus of the presentations, tours and discussions on how production, retail and allied nursery businesses can obtain ideas, innovation, inventions and concepts to improve how the businesses operates.

Conference Opening – Karen Brock the NGIA President opened the conference with an overview of the key activities in the industry.  A particular focus of the presentation was on career development and the importance of the nursery industry providing career opportunities, which will hopefully attract more people to the industry. Mr Richard Warner of the Tasmanian Government House provided a history of horticulture in Tasmania, as the then emerging colony, and now state.  He finished his presentation by saying this is a “marvellously important industry”.

Have a Story to tell – Matthew Evans of The Gourmet Farmer fame made a presentation on “Selling the story of the grower …” to ensure you can engage in interesting discussions of your background and business. The “provenance” of the product is vital to help in its marketing and you must be able to “tell the story”. Matthew also advised not to order chicken on a Monday and don’t eat the mustard coloured oysters.

Trends, Marketing and Future Crops – were the themes of the three presentations by Chris Beytes of Ball Publishing.  Some of the key messages from Chris were:

1.    Labour is vital to your business and people your number one (No. 1) asset.  Some tips in managing labour were raise wages before it is forced on you, offer more benefits than the competition, make the job better, easier and more comfortable and if you can, reduce your dependence on labour.
2.    Crop trends – succulents remain “hot”, foliage is making a comeback, herbs and veges remain strong and developments in disease resistance for ornamental plants progressing.
3.    Society trends – look at, Chris mentioned “ambient wellness” with a link of presence of plants to health and wellness, automated commerce into business eg have customers sign up to automatic delivery and payment for the plant of the month.
4.    Social media – people look for tutorials on u-tube, personality and story must come through, humour is important and have good quality images, video and audio.
5.    Successful businesses – Chris presented on three businesses he believes are highly successful and they each had the following common themes – Be focused; Listen to your employees and customers; Respect everyone; and Have a Vision – know why you are doing what you are doing.

Manage your health – In her presentation on “Managing the pressures of farming”, Kerry-Lynne Peachey identified a number of areas that create the “pressures”, including physical fitness, a sense of well-being and mental health and environmental, climatic, economic and social. Kerry-Lynne worked through a check list approach resource as an intervention to assist in dealing with the pressures.  The booklet is available if requested.

202020 Vision – Ben Peacock provided an excellent presentation and overview of the 202020 Vision program with the main message – “When you create more green space, you sell more plants”.  This is of course the aim of the 202020 Vision Program. Ben also provided details of the next phase of the Plant Life Balance campaign which is based on linking the science of air quality to health and well-being.

The Future of Retail – Loise Grimmer from the University of Tasmania outlined the following five trends for the future of retail businesses:

1.    Being mobile – your website must be optimised for mobile phone use.
2.    It’s all about convenience – “virtual shops” and shop fronts allow people to buy anywhere.
3.    Serious technology – augmented reality versus virtual reality and how this is managed in the retail business.
4.    “The need for speed”
5.    Let’s get physical – customers attracted and going back to stores
6.    Customer focus – they want education, inspiration and experiences

Changing Demographics – Social researcher Mark McCrindle provide an entertaining view of the changing demographics in Australia to ensure nursery businesses know how their demand profile may change into the future.  The five key trends Mark identified are: Growing Population; Growing Cities; Changing Population – born overseas, don’t speak English at home; Aging Population; and Mobile Population – move to live and work.

Paul De Gelder provided an inspiration presentation on his challenges in overcoming his injuries from a shark attack.  Paul’s moto is Improvise, Adapt and Overcome and some of the tips to do this were – Avoid complicated situations; Make simple choices; You always have value and purpose; and Consistently learn and consistently set goals.

The final point from Paul De Gelder is where I like to think of NGIA can support members members by providing the opportunity to consistently learn and hopefully to improve how you do business. The opportunities are provided to all members so are “pre-competitive”.  It is how you identify and take up the opportunities that provide a competitive and “growing” edge.

There were many other presentations and sessions at the conference that unfortunately I was unable to attend.  However, there will be stories and articles provided through the NNN Newsletter and Your Levy at Work communications over the coming months.

NGI Network Structure Review:
During the conference there was a panel discussion on the nursery industry structure change process.  This session was made available to all members through a “live feed” over the internet and over 200 industry representatives watched at least part or all of the panel session.

Immediately following the conference, there was another joint meeting of the NGIA Board and State NGI Presidents, Executive and representatives to progress discussions on structure review.  One of the key elements of a new structure that we need to get right is the financial model and NGIA and the State Associations will work to produce a realistic and viable budget for the industry body going forward. Please refer to the structure review article in this NNN newsletter for more detail.

As usual, please contact me at [email protected] if you have any questions, comments or concerns on the operation of NGIA and this edition of the NNN email.

Kind regards,
Peter Vaughan