Covering the commercial grower is a fun experience. Speaking with the people of this industry has broadened my horizons in more ways than I could have imagined. I also feel this way about our Green Group staff of Grandview Media. One of the few times most of us meet together is during Cultivate, one of the largest horticulture shows in North America.

The four-day event, held annually in Columbus, Ohio, is intriguing for several reasons. One is that it’s inspiring to see the rockstar reception that our American Nurseryman Editor Sally Benson received when she greeted fellow attendees. The first year I was there with her was akin to a mother leading around her wide-eyed son who is giddy at the sight of his surroundings. This year, I’m still in awe of how Sally runs the floor as a true vet of the industry. Witnessing her speak with vendors and growers has taught me the value of relationships.

In Columbus, I spoke with several exhibitors and worked to create more opportunities for partnerships. In general, that’s what we all strive to do in our businesses. And as Sally has shown me, relationships matter.

The numbers back her up as well. In a 2015 HubSpot study, 85 percent of those surveyed said they build stronger, more meaningful business relationships during in-person business meetings and conferences. Ninety-five percent say face-to-face meetings are essential for long-term relationships. Color me a believer as I witnessed that my strongest relationships have been with readers and partners I’ve met in conferences like Cultivate.

As I mentioned plenty of times, I’m blessed to be in an industry that values interaction. It makes it a pleasure to perform on a daily basis. It also makes my job easy. I know that whatever problem I have, I look back at my relationship with it. Nine times out of 10, the solution is within it. That’s how most businesses feel when they discuss this industry and its challenges.

Of course, this line of work is complex and I don’t mean to gloss poetic, but I truly believe the way to efficiency and effectiveness is building on the relationship we have and continuing to create new ones. Every year I hang out with Sally in Columbus, I learn a little more about her industry and mine as well, while still making the experience fun.

Correction: In my June column, I erroneously stated that lettuce accounts for 12 percent of U.S. exports in 2014. The correct statement is 12 percent of U.S. lettuce production was exported that year.


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