Conference 2012

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Thanks to all those who made it to conference and contributed to what feedback suggests was a very good and valuable couple of days. Some have gone so far as including words such as “best” and the like in aspects of their comments.

John Stanley’s presentations certainly brought something of a challenge around the shape of and how we need to prepare for a new market dominated by younger people, reliance upon and trust of peer recommendations, distrust of advertising, ecologically sound products, a growing confidence consumers have in craftsmen well versed in responsible production methods – that is growers, and the prominence of social media in the marketing mix. John’s use of the phrase “bricks and clicks” is a sign of things to come.

Robert Prince’s overview of the Australian Plant Life Balance campaign,, and their efforts to influence decision makers around the use of plant life in urban landscape was impressive and herald a new opportunity for our own work. Plant life in urban Australia, whether it be in gardens or cityscapes is the largest “forest” in Australia. Robert reckons its number two here. Wherever it ranks, it’s a huge contributor to the health, welfare and aesthetics of people, community, society and environment. Watch this space.

Growers heard form Anthony Kachenko and the ideas behind Australia’s best practice programmes. We’ll begin work with early adopters here in New Zealand this month.

In an A to Z of running a family business, Paul Franklin, spoke of 26 issues that define the unique characteristics around sharing business with parents, children & siblings. Pitfalls aplenty, advantages aplenty ...

Andrew Harrison threw some light on the responsibilities and advantages of our having, and being involved in the NPPA process, and Dan Corbett fascinated many with a brilliant summary of the science, statistics and chaos around predicting just what weather we’ll experience on any given day.

Thursday’s strategy breakout sessions provided some brilliant ideas for future Association work – though the Board will have some sifting to do - suggestions of some groups challenged those of others; some were diametrically opposed!

John Liddle’s Strategic Plan update is included in this newsletter mailing and it signals extensive infrastructure work ahead for 2012/3.

The AGM provided extended discussion around and approval of proposals for the establishment of a Board Chair, reviewed membership categories and full member turnover bands. Subscriptions for the March 2013 year were set with small increases for small businesses and more substantial increases for larger entities.

Several members spoke on making their boat go faster and feedback suggests that this be a more regular feature – so watch this space.

Support programmes available from Business Mentors NZ demonstrate the advantages of seeking advice and guidance from those who have“been there, done that”. It reminded of a bumper sticker recently seen –“a big problem was a little problem never handled”.

Retail excellence was clearly validated by Brian Merrick in his walk through highlights from stores he judged in the Yates Garden Retail Awards – and congratulations to Palmers Gardenworld, Tauranga and Mitre 10 Mega Nelson – winners of their respective categories!

Michael Ahie asked what it would take to enact a threefold increase in contribution to GDP, while reducing inputs – now that’s a recipe for efficiency. He spoke of the need for growth strategy, developing partnerships and collective leadership. He noted that even if you are on the right track, you’ll get run over if you just sit there!


Wednesday’s Pirates and Wenches dinner saw some in very creative mode – I’ll assume many of you have seen photos, even if you do not remember much of the evening - enough said!

I’ve recorded Palmers Gardenworld Tauranga and Mitre 10 Mega Nelson’s success above. Congratulations also to other major award winners – Daniel Chong, our Young Achiever; Nichols Garden Group, Best Marketing Award and Ces Wallis Cup; and Yates NZ for Excellence in Marketing and the David Goudie Cup.

Thanks again to all delegates, those who spoke and our sponsors. Individually and collectively you made for a great conference. I look forward to working with you in the year ahead – and doing it all again in 2013.

Right now our plan for 2013 is a joint conference with Landscape New Zealand in Queenstown during the last week in June – dare I say it, put it in your diaries now!

John Liddle