Photo courtesy of Silver Vase Orchids

Greenhouse Management: How did the decision to take TPIE virtual in 2021 come about?

Marcella Lucio-Chinchilla: It was several, several meetings — not just one instance. We had been talking about what TPIE could look like since early September and were actually leaning towards having it in person because we hoped that in January things would be better. We were trying to create some normalcy. But, at the same time, we had to be mindful of safety and encourage people to do things that would be [beneficial] to their health and well-being. We listened to exhibitors and attendees, and we represent a huge group of people — not just committee members, but everyone else. That’s what matters to us, not us getting out there with a bang and having the first in-person show in 2021. 

GM: How do you approach conducting a show online when the in-person portion is big part of what makes the show important? 

MLC: People want to connect, they want to learn new things, they want to get inspired and they want to learn about more products or more opportunities, even if there’s not going to be a listing of all of the different companies and growers who would have been there had we had an in-person event. They represent the industry. Now, without having to travel to Tampa [where the event is being held] and having a full three games, you can think about what you want to get out of TPIE, look at these listings and spend your time looking for exactly what you want. You don’t lose a week of work this way. 

GM: What was 2020 like for you and Silver Vase Orchids?

MLC: A roller coaster. It’s ups and downs, and it has been exciting sharp turns and exciting drops and really uphill battles. Your expectations are there; you have that fear about what’s coming up over that next hill — that’s what it’s like all the time. The industry overall has done really well because people have been home and have been wanting to invest in home décor and gardening. It’s been one of the best years we’ve had, actually, in terms of sales and revenue. But it has been challenging. The most important thing for us dating back to February, even before March when everything stopped. Feb. 14 was my last travel day. We got together and decided not to travel and not to gather. And that was really surreal because no one was really talking about that then, but we knew something was happening and we took action early on.