The American Nursery and Landscape Association’s (ANLA) board of directors voted in mid July to explore the joint formation of a new trade association with OFA – The Association of Horticulture Professionals.

The vote was prompted by a recommendation from a joint working group of elected ANLA and OFA leaders. Their recommendation followed the announcement earlier this year of a joint venture between the two associations. The first question we needed to address was whether our members and the broader industry would benefit from our two associations working together,” says ANLA President Bob Lyons, Sunleaf Nursery, LLC (OH). “The clear answer that emerged was yes.”

According to ANLA board member Dan Mulhall, Mulhall’s (NE), “The two organizations bring very different strengths to the table with little overlap.” Dan explains that ANLA offers the industry’s most-respected government relations program and executive education while OFA brings a world-class trade show and strong technical and management education. “This is not about cutting,” says Dan, “It’s about increasing the programming and services available to both memberships while increasing the audiences that support those programs.”

The task force’s recommendation is that a new organization be established no sooner than July 2013 and no later than January 2014. The new organization will replace both ANLA and OFA. “The rest of the details are left to be decided,” says President Lyons. “Once you decide that something is the right thing to do, then you figure out how to get it done.” Pending a similar approval by the OFA board of directors, the two organizations will establish a process for defining the structure and activities of the new organization and communicate that process to their leaders and membership.

In further development of the joint venture, following the scheduled retirement of ANLA Executive Vice President Bob Dolibois at the end of 2012, Michael Geary will become the chief staff executive of both OFA and ANLA beginning on January 1, 2013. The organizations will continue to be governed separately but Geary will lead the day-to-day operations of both associations.

“In the meantime,” says Mulhall, “the activities of the joint venture, announced earlier this year, will continue, including working together on government relations activities and developing a new executive and key management education program, Next Level, which is being announced at the 2012 OFA Short Course, and will be held at the end of January 2013.”