Entrepreneurs make their mark at Expo 2011

October 25, 2011
Oct. 25, 2011 -  Entrepreneurs are making their mark on the garden and floral industry with a big presence at this year’s Expo 2011, Landscape Ontario’s popular fall floral and garden trade show.

While big growers and manufacturers still play a very important role in the industry, it is clear the economic trend that is seeing significant growth is in small- and medium-sized businesses helping move the green industry into the future.

“Expo is a great showcase for new companies and products to make their mark on the retailers who will set the trends in the coming season,” said Expo show manager Lorraine Ivanoff. “We have seen good growth in the number of smaller businesses and entrepreneurs taking up space on the show floor, displaying innovative products like rubber mulch, alternative materials for patio furniture, planters and garden centre implements.”

More than 2,000 buyers passed by the 200+ exhibitors at Expo 2011, held at the Toronto Congress Centre Wednesday, October 19 and Thursday, October 20. Show highlights included an enhanced lighting of the show floor, high-quality booth displays, hundreds of new plant and product introductions, floral masterpieces and visits by some of Ontario’s leading garden writers.  The new look, education sessions, and networking opportunities left attendees feeling excited and inspired.

“Every year Expo strives to be better than it has ever been, and with the help of top notch exhibitors and innovative new products, we succeeded this year in keeping the show fresh and exciting,” said Ivanoff. “Expo is a world-class show in our own backyard and will make Canada’s floral and garden industry that much stronger. From a new enhanced lighting of displays to a new marketing direction geared to the ultimate buyer of gardening and floral products to maximizing an online presence and building a better business, Expo featured lots of advice and tips that will help make our industry stronger.”

Expo 2011 is a kick-off event for garden centres preparing for the 2012 season, where they can see hot new products that will help consumers create a sense of calm and serenity in their home gardens. It also allows retail garden centre operators to learn new ways to grow their business through product selection, customer service, guest relations and marketing.

“The opportunity for networking at this event is huge,” says Tony DiGiovanni, executive director of Landscape Ontario. “You can not underestimate how important that is. People are here sharing information and learning new things. That is how business will grow.”

More than 120 of the latest product additions to the world of ornamental horticulture and home gardening were featured in the New Product Showcase. Some of the trends for the 2012 season will come from this showcase, including the ongoing growth of outdoor living and the emergence of “living walls,” implements that help plants grow on a vertical plane.

“We are seeing more and more garden businesses think outside the box,” says DiGiovanni. “They are showing new and innovative ways to display plants differently. They are displaying plants as art.”

Ten of Ontario’s top horticultural greenhouse growers were also featured at Expo in Aisle 500’s wonderful table top displays created by Artistic Director Albert Graves:

Bayview Flowers Ltd
Cosmic Plants Inc
Floral Dimensions Flower Farm
Northern Innovators
Pioneer Flower Farms Ltd
Prins Grow Inc
P. Ravensbergen & Sons Ltd
Slappendel Greenhouses
Westbrook Floral Ltd
Westland Greenhouses
 
Determining winners of the best booth awards from many amazing exhibits was a challenge. For judges, winning exhibits had to do more than look attractive; they also had to educate attendees. Exhibitors receiving the top marks included Jill Jensen Botanical Specialties for best booth under 200 sq. ft and Maple Leaf Nurseries for the best booth over 200 sq. ft.

“Expo happens at such a great time of year to show some of the wonderful things that are still in the garden,” says Harry Brouwer, a representative from Maple Leaf Nurseries. “There are still great blooms in the fall to showcase, and Expo is a wonderful place to catch up with all of our friends in the industry.”

Taking a Good Garden Centre and Making it GREAT!

Karl Stensson, president of Sheridan Nurseries Ltd, shared the lessons he learned while helping grow Sheridan Nurseries into an operation that grows more than 700 varieties of plants on 400 hectares of land in Georgetown. Sheridan outlets have expanded beyond plants, and offer consumers a total shopping experience that includes hardy ornamental plants, annuals, house plants, garden supplies, furniture, home décor and giftware at nine outlets in the GTA and Waterloo region.

“There are hundreds of different kinds of garden centres out there,” says Stensson. “As a garden centre business, you don’t go out and make off with a garden centre. You borrow and adapt a bunch of different ideas from different garden centres to get what works for you. That will give you the business growth you need to raise money to do bigger, more expensive things, like put up a new building.”

J Paul Lamarche, JPL Consulting, Newmarket, Ont., a noted horticultural industry expert had this to say about Stensson’s presentation,  “It is said many times, that you should take as many lectures, seminars and presentations as possible, as you may get one or two things that can transform your business. Karl Stensson delivered a passionate, well thought out "seminar", on the little things you can do, to not only stay ahead of the box stores, but to move them out of your radar! Personally I saw approximately 20 things I would implement tomorrow if I had a garden centre. Most would cost only hundreds of dollars and generate thousands in return. Most could be done by staff, thereby improving attitude and enthusiasm!  Likely the most informative "seminar" I have seen, period!”

Living Walls at Longwood Gardens

Dr Casey Sclar and Lorrie Baird of Longwood Gardens, PA., gave a detailed and technical presentation about living interior walls and what it takes to install and maintain them. The audience was delighted at the high level of detail presented at the Coffee & Cookies Conference hosted by the Interior Plantscape Contractors Group.

Close More Business and Have Happy Clients

Speaker and author Rory Sheehan hosted a gripping and informative discussion on finalizing a sale and building your business at the Landscape Designers Networking and Breakfast event.

Canadian Academy of Floral Art (CAFA) inducts new members

The induction ceremony for new CAFA members has quickly become a staple at Expo. Over 100 attendees were on hand to meet the 2011 Student CAFA inductees: Amanda Apa, Jesse K. Chui, Jessalyn Morgan, Katie Poole and Eun-Sook Song and the 2011 CAFA Inductees are Finola Jones, Neville MacKay and Heather Styba.

The Academy members also participated in a design show based on the theme of Canadian Content: A Tribute to Things Canadian which featured tributes to Canadian fashion, Canadian wines and Canadian electronic inventions.   “Expo is the ideal forum to showcase the artistic talents of floral designers,” said CAFA president Derrick Foss, AIFD. “We are pleased and excited that we have once again been able to be part of this wonderful event.”

Supporting a good cause


In early Spring 2011, Willowbrook Nurseries Inc. launched a Cancer Fundraising Program using their branded 1-gallon pink and yellow perennials. For every perennial purchased with the Cancer Pot Wrap, 5% of the sale gets donated to the Canadian Cancer Society. Angela Daley, of the Canadian Cancer Society, graciously accepted a generous donation of $5,380.04, from John Langendoen, president of Willowbrook, at the Expo 2011 Welcome Reception.
 
Awards of Excellence Winners

Landscape Ontario’s Awards of Excellence winners for Garden Centres and Growers were announced at the breakfast event on Wednesday, October 19. LO’s director of public relations Denis Flanagan announced the winners, with Tony DiGiovanni and LO Garden Centre Sector Group chair, Michael Van Dongen presenting the plaques to award recipients.

These awards were created by Landscape Ontario as a way to recognize the growers of the ‘best’ and the retailers who have been deemed as ‘excellent.’ “Growers and retailers who excel in the industry deserve some recognition for the hard work and dedication they show day in and day out,” says Denis Flanagan, Director of Landscape Ontario Public Relations. “The Awards of Excellence are a great opportunity to appreciate the workmanship, quality and commitment each of the winners invest into their companies and products.”

The winners in their respective categories are below:

2011 Garden Centre Awards of Excellence Winners

Angelo's Garden Centre
Award of Excellence for the following category:
Outstanding Display of Plant Material - Annuals and/or Perennials
Hwy 7 W, Concord, L4K 1V4, Phone: 905-669-9220
 
Bala Garden Centre
Award of Excellence for the following category:
Outstanding Display of Plant Material - Annuals and/or Perennials
Muskoka Rd 169, PO Box 39, Bala, P0C 1A0, Phone: 705-762-3040
 
Canadale Nurseries Ltd

Awards of Excellence for the following categories:
Merchandising Techniques - Outstanding Promotional Event; Outstanding Display of Plant Material - Deciduous Shrubs and/or Trees
Sunset Dr, St Thomas, N5R 3C4, Phone: 519-631-7264

Connon Nurseries/CBV Holdings Inc
Awards of Excellence for the following categories:
Outstanding Display of Plant Material - Annuals and/or Perennials; Outstanding Display of Plant Material - Your Specialty: Plant Material Your Business is noted for
Dundas St E, PO Box 1218, Waterdown, L0R 2H0, Phone: 905-689-7433
 
Cudmore's Garden Centre Inc
Award of Excellence for the following category:
Outstanding Display of Plant Material - Annuals and/or Perennials
Lakeshore Rd W, Oakville, L6L 1J7, Phone: 905-827-1872
 
Mori Gardens

Award of Excellence for the following category:
Outstanding Display of Goods - Hardgoods
Hwy 55, Niagara-on-the-Lake, L0S 1J0, Phone: 905-468-7863
 
New North Greenhouses Inc
Awards of Excellence for the following categories:
Outstanding Display of Goods – Giftware; Merchandising Techniques - Outstanding Promotional Event
Airport Rd, Sault Ste Marie, P6A 5K6, Phone: 705-779-2168
 
Parkway Gardens Ltd

Awards of Excellence for the following categories:
Outstanding Display of Plant Material - Your Specialty: Plant Material Your Business is Noted For; Permanent Display Gardens - Over 500 square feet
Gainsborough Rd, PO Box 28052, London, N6H 5E1, Phone: 519-657-7360
 
Sheridan Nurseries Ltd
Awards of Excellence for the following categories:
Merchandising Techniques - Outstanding Promotional Event;  Outstanding Display of Plant Material - Annuals and/or Perennials;  Outstanding Display of Goods – Seasonal; Outstanding Display of Plant Material - Deciduous Shrubs and/or Trees; Merchandising Techniques - Creative POP Area;  Merchandising Techniques - Outstanding Print Advertising; Outstanding Display of Goods – Giftware;  Merchandising Techniques - Outstanding Web Site Development
12302 Tenth Line, Georgetown, L7G 4S7, Phone: 416-798 7970
 
For more information about the Awards of Excellence, please visit: www.loawards.com.

2011 Growers Awards of Excellence Winners

Braun Nursery Ltd
Award of Excellence for the following category:
Caliper Trees
Mount Hope, L0R 1W0, Phone: 905- 648-1911
 
Connon Nurseries/NVK Holdings Inc
Awards of Excellence for the following categories:
Deciduous Ornamental Trees, 300 Cm or Less; Perennials; Unusual & Rare Plants; JUDGES CHOICE
Waterdown, L0R 2H0, Phone: 905-628-0112
 
Langendoen Nurseries Inc

Awards of Excellence for the following category:
Deciduous Ornamental Trees, Top Grafted/Worked
152 Carlton St E, Niagara-on-the-Lake, L0S 1J0 Phone: 905-688-2797
 
Mori Nurseries Ltd
Awards of Excellence for the following categories:
Evergreens - Field Grown, Upright & Spreading; Evergreens - Container Grown, Upright & Spreading; Broadleaf Evergreens; Deciduous Shrubs; Vines & Groundcovers
1695 Niagara Stone Rd, Niagara-on-the-Lake, L0S 1J0  Phone: 905-468-3217
 
Sheridan Nurseries Ltd
Award of Excellence for the following category:
Design on a Skid
12302 Tenth Line, Georgetown, L7G 4S7, Phone: 416-798 7970
 
Mark your calendars for next year when Expo returns to the North Building of the Toronto Congress Centre on Oct. 17-18, 2012.

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