The announcement followed a 30-day open ballot and today’s in-person vote for OFA’s members, held here.
It’s what our members want,” stated Mark Foertmeyer, who was announced as the Chairman of the Board for the new organization. The owner of Foertmeyer & Sons Greenhouse in Delaware, Ohio, and current President of OFA continued, “We have surveyed our members, spoken with them, and finally asked them to cast a ballot. Each time they told us they wanted a national association that unifies and serves the entire horticulture industry.”
“We will have the largest national nursery, greenhouse, and garden retail membership of any horticulture association in the United States,” stated the organization’s inaugural Vice Chairman, Dale Deppe, owner of Spring Meadow Nursery in Grand Haven, Mich., and current Vice President of ANLA. “Those communities will join together with breeders, distributors, interior and exterior landscape professionals, florists, students, educators, researchers, manufacturers, and all who are part of the supply chain to represent our industry with one, strong voice and a greater base of volunteer, staff, and financial resources,” Deppe added.
The new trade association, named the American Horticulture Association, will be known as AmericanHort, and will begin operations by Jan. 1, 2014. The mission of AmericanHort is to unite, promote and advance our industry through advocacy, collaboration, connectivity, education, market development, and research.
Michael V. Geary, CAE, who will continue as the chief staff executive, said the new association will maintain all of the current staff in both the Columbus, Ohio and Washington, DC offices. Geary stated, “By including research, industry promotion, regulatory and legislative efforts, education, and countless opportunities for buyers and sellers to interact, we will deliver a broad range of business-based services to our industry and be the quintessential resource for the horticulture industry as a whole.”
Gary Mangum, CEO of Bell Nursery, headquartered in Elkridge, Md., and a current member of both ANLA and OFA stated, “I have made long-term dues investments in both organizations. ANLA is the leader in legislative and regulatory representation for our industry, and OFA offers outstanding educational programs and runs the largest horticultural trade show and convention in North America. With the addition of programs like the Next Level conference and the significant expansion of the retail segment at the 2014 Short Course, we can already see the benefits of these two associations joining together. It will be better for my business, and it is a true win for our industry. Congratulations to our leaders and members who made this historic decision.”
The new organization will represent the whole of the plant industry, including breeders, greenhouse and nursery growers, garden center retailers, distributors, interior and exterior landscape professionals, florists, students, educators, researchers, manufacturers, and all of those who are part of the industry supply chain. The association will have its primary office in Columbus, Ohio and an office in Washington, D.C. to facilitate government relations and research activities.
The inaugural board of directors was appointed by the legacy organizations. For the first year, the board will have equal representation from OFA and ANLA. The Board includes the following leaders:
Chairman of the Board – Mark Foertmeyer, Foertmeyer & Sons Greenhouse, Delaware, Ohio