This summer, Hoffman Nursery founder and owner John Hoffman was seemingly everywhere. He attended Cultivate’18 in Columbus, meeting with clients and networking with the industry. A few weeks later, he helped host the 2018 Perennial Plant Association Symposium in the Raleigh area and welcomed industry members to his business. After the PPA Symposium wrapped up, he and his wife, Jill, flew to Poland for the Internationale-Stauden Union’s Summer Days 2018, which Hoffman calls the European PPA.
Below, Hoffman reflects on his busy summer.
Greenhouse Management: This summer, you were recognized with a Horticultural Industries Leadership Award at Cultivate’18 and the Award of Merit and Grower Award at PPA. What does it mean for you and your business, to be recognized by your peers?
John Hoffman: It’s an honor. It feels good. I certainly enjoyed the moments, both at Cultivate and PPA. But as I said on stage at both events with all of the awards, [the] people around me put me on the stage. It’s something I always try to do and make sure that people know that it’s not just me. There [are] so many people from family to friends to employees and so on that are involved with all of that. I keep telling people that [the] people around me make me look good — I don’t do all that work, they do all that work. Luckily, they hand me the awards in some cases. It is nice to receive the recognition, but I take it in stride.
GM: Was there anything you learned this summer that you plan to apply to your business moving forward?
JH: We do look at the economy, we try to talk about that a little bit and see how businesses are doing. We have a lot of friends in the industry and you talk about these things with customers to see how they are doing and how they are feeling about the future. Any information we collect, we can apply to the businesses — the ups and the downs. Things are going to happen and slow down eventually, so you just have to be prepared for that. We listen to Charlie Hall a lot. Whenever he speaks, we try to get to his talks and ask him what he sees coming. I think the last time we saw him, at Cultivate, he’s saying we’ve got a year-and-a-half to two-year run [until the next recession] and then it’s something to look at that point. It’s just trying to figure out what the economic indicators are telling us.
GM: What did you learn in Poland at the Internationale Stauden-Union event?
JH: We mainly sit on a bus and drive to different gardens and wholesale nurseries and that sort of thing. That’s what we did over there for four or five days. I’m going over to network, to see the automation. It’s high-tech — very few people [are] in line producing products and potting the plants themselves. It’s looking at different operations and how they handle production, marketing and plant movement and all sorts of things. And new plants are my big deal. I’m trying to find new grasses, and we found a bunch this year.