Louisville, KY, in mid winter is not one of America's party cities. But it is a darn good location to hold a big educational/networking event. Most of us couldn't find much mischief to distract us from the business at hand — attending the sessions and networking. What I'm referring to is the Management Clinic sponsored by the American Nursery & Landscape Association.
I'm not sure how many years these ANLA Clinics have been going on, but I'm sorry I didn't check in years ago because this is one first-rate event. Held annually in the venerable Galt House Hotel overlooking cold, muddy Ohio River, there's not a whole lot to do in the city except dive into the many events swirling around the Clinic.
(Oh yes, there was a Clinic 5K Fun Run along the river at 6:30 a.m. on Friday. A small knot of us — maybe 12 or 15 masochistic souls — gathered in the hotel lobby and cruised east along the river, then doubled back, glad to get some hot coffee and a warm shower. But back to the Clinic.)
Two editors from our pub made the trip, one driving from Cleveland and the other from Toledo, and we split up coverage of the event. We could have easily brought three editors there was so much going on . . . but somebody has got to get the February magazine proofed and ready for the printer, right?
We were surprised by the number of landscape company owners and managers at the Clinic. We learned maybe 30% - 35% of the attendees were landscapers, the second biggest group of participants next to the nursery owners and managers. In total, I think about 1200 people attended.
The ANLA focuses on the "green" part of the landscape — the trees and plants grown in our nurseries. Many of these nurseries also have landscape divisions. But there were plenty of landscapers there just learning business and plants. There were plenty of sessions devoted to both.
Not to take away from the efforts of any other association or organization, but if you're in the landscape business and you're doing design/build, bid/build or any significant amount of installation, you definitely want to check out next year's ANLA Clinic program.
Like I said, Louisville in mid winter is hardly a garden spot. But it's a nice city, it's easy to get around, the prices are reasonable, the people friendly and you'll be spending most of your time hanging out with old friends and making new ones anyway.