Schedule of Events

Garden Center Conference & Expo

Exhibit Hall Hours

Tuesday, September 28, 2021 - 4:30 p.m. - 6:30 p.m.

Wednesday, September 29, 2021 - 10:00 a.m. - 6:00 p.m.

Times, sessions and speakers are subject to change.

10:30 AM – 05:30 PM

Building a Business Community (additional fee)
General Session

Take a tour of the expansive and diverse grounds at Rockledge Gardens and learn how the Florida IGC has worked with local businesses as well as nonprofits to create stores within the garden center. Managing Director Liz Lark-Riley and several department heads will describe each section from the beginning of the partnership through its success.

Click here for more information.

09:00 AM – 06:30 PM

Registration Open
General Session

09:30 AM – 10:00 AM

Welcome Refreshments
Executive Summit

All-Access Pass Holders Only

10:00 AM – 11:00 AM

Your Customers are Vaccinated. Now What?
Executive Summit

All-Access Pass Holders Only

The COVID pandemic brought unprecedented demand to IGCs as consumers stayed home, rediscovered their yards and spent more at garden centers than they ever have before. Post-COVID, what trends will disappear and which will remain? How can you maintain your growth? Join Rob Sproule as he discusses how the pandemic has influenced trends already in motion such as reliance on e-commerce, millennials' interest in gardening, the rise of localism, increased demand for plants that provide value beyond aesthetics, an emphasis on consumer service and safety, and much more.

Rob Sproule
Speaker Rob Sproule Co-Owner Salisbury Greenhouse View Bio

11:00 AM – 11:15 AM

Networking Refreshment Break
Executive Summit

All Access Pass Holders Only

11:15 AM – 12:15 PM

Growing The Family Business: Expansion And Innovation At Gullo’s Garden Center
Executive Summit

All-Access Pass Holders Only

Growth is exciting, but it can also be a daunting endeavor. As your operation matures, what do you do when your needs outgrow your current footprint? Learn how Gullo’s Garden Center has managed three expansions as the 27-year-old garden center undergoes its fourth buildout.

Join Russell Gullo, who has worked at Gullo’s since the day it opened in 1994, as he shares what he’s learned taking the IGC from an outdoor tent in its first year to the powerhouse it is today. He’ll share what he’s learned from his experience, what fueled the growth and need for expansion, the internal business and family discussions they went through and all of the planning that went into both prior and current expansions. Bring your questions to join the conversation and learn from the Top 100 garden center’s experiences with expanding their footprint to better serve their customers and grow their own plant material.

Russell Gullo
Speaker Russell Gullo Chief Operating Officer Gullo’s Garden Center View Bio

12:15 PM – 01:30 PM

Networking Lunch
Executive Summit

All-Access Pass Holders Only

01:30 PM – 02:30 PM

Smart Succession Planning
Executive Summit

All-Access Pass Holders Only

Transitioning ownership of your IGC can be stressful, complicated and downright daunting. Learn from those who have gone through the process of transitioning ownership, set your business up for a successful sale and ask your burning questions about planning for the future.
Clint Fiore
Speaker Clint Fiore Founder and CEO Texas Business Buyers View Bio
Katherine Smith
Speaker Katherine Smith Owner Smith's Gardentown View Bio
Michael Fiore
Speaker Michael Fiore Manager Smith’s Gardentown View Bio

02:30 PM – 03:00 PM

Networking Refreshment Break
General Session

03:00 PM – 04:30 PM

Keynote Session - Take Back Control: The Importance of Driving Trends Instead of Chasing Them
General Session

All-Access and Conference & Expo Pass Holders

When it comes to keeping up with trends, are you in the driver’s seat or a passenger hanging on for dear life? Keeping up with trends in the marketplace can feel like riding a roller coaster. By the time you react and start to tap into a new gardening or houseplant trend, your customers may already be moving on. Would you rather let social media influencers determine what you need to sell then chase down that product…or would you rather control that conversation from the start? As new and inexperienced gardeners search for guidance and inspiration, now is the time to take charge and lead from the front. Leslie will dig deeper into this idea and inspire you to quit chasing trends, and take the wheel as trend setters.

Leslie Halleck
Speaker Leslie Halleck Certified Pro Horticulturist, Consultant, Author Halleck Horticultural, LLC View Bio

04:30 PM – 06:30 PM

Welcome Reception/Top 100 Awards in the Exhibit Hall
General Session
Come enjoy cocktails and light hors d'oeuvres on the expo show floor and join us in celebrating the 2021 Top 100 Independent Garden Centers.
Kate Spirgen
Speaker Kate Spirgen Editor Garden Center Magazine View Bio
Nick Collins
Speaker Nick Collins Publisher Garden Center magazine View Bio

08:00 AM – 06:00 PM

Registration Open
General Session

08:00 AM – 09:00 AM

Networking Breakfast
General Session

09:00 AM – 10:00 AM

The One Hour Strategic Plan
Executive

All-Access and Conference & Expo Pass Holders

Join John Kennedy as he delivers this fast-paced approach to “moving mountains” through vision, values and volition.

John’s “pebbles, rocks and boulders” program will deliver you a structured and strategic plan to help you navigate your garden center in 2022 and beyond.

Learn how to set your compass to “true north” and establish an entrepreneurial operating system (EOS) to drive traction to your team and traffic to your business.

John Kennedy
Speaker John Kennedy Owner John Kennedy Consulting View Bio

09:00 AM – 10:00 AM

Encouraging A Culture Of Feedback
Management

All-Access and Conference & Expo Pass Holders

Learn how create a company culture that values employee feedback and embraces change.

10:00 AM – 11:00 AM

Networking Refreshment Break in the Exhibit Hall
General Session

10:00 AM – 10:45 AM

Why Technology Is No Longer A “Nice to Have”
Tech Solutions
Sponsored By

All Access and Conference & Expo Pass Holders

Join experts from Epicor, Proven Winners, and Landscape Hub for a panel discussion on the importance of technology in the retail marketplace. Discussion topics will include inventory procurement, solving data issues, improving employee productivity, how to talk about technology in a resistant industry, and predictions for 2022 and beyond. You won’t want to miss these valuable insights on how to effectively incorporate the latest technology within your IGC. 

Sam Kirkland
Speaker Sam Kirkland Strategic Relationship Manager Epicor View Bio
Lisa Fiore
Speaker Lisa Fiore Founder & CEO LandscapeHub View Bio
Jessica DeGraaf
Speaker Jessica DeGraaf Director of Retail Accounts Proven Winners® View Bio

11:00 AM – 12:00 PM

How to Make Your Customers Successful Plant Parents
Management

All Access and Conference & Expo Pass Holders

With the soaring popularity of houseplants, more and more people are bringing these living things into their homes but confused about exactly how to care for them. Googling for plant care advice tends to leave people with more questions than answers because that advice has been recycled from decades past when houseplants were treated as mere decor. Darryl brings a fresh perspective to an old hobby. His science-based, practical approach has helped thousands understand the essentials of houseplant care to become confident plant parents. Success propagates success: confident plant parents become repeat customers; plant advice that works and makes sense attracts new customers.

 

And how can we keep them coming back to the garden center? How do we better connect with a broader audience around houseplants? This session will also discuss the role of social media, how to use it effectively, and how to keep the interest in houseplants alive.

Darryl Cheng
Speaker Darryl Cheng Creator House Plant Journal View Bio

11:00 AM – 12:00 PM

Put the Social in Your Enterprise
Executive

All Access and Conference & Expo Pass Holders

More than 50% of consumers factor values into their purchase choices. Garden centers have a great opportunity to connect with these consumers by showcasing environmental, community and small business practices. From donations to civic groups to community outreach to job training programs, the things you value matter to your customers too. Learn how we can all impact the world for the better while shoring up the bottom line.
LaManda Joy
Speaker LaManda Joy Owner City Grange View Bio

12:00 PM – 01:30 PM

Networking Lunch in the Exhibit Hall
General Session

12:30 PM – 01:15 PM

Technology & Solutions Session 2
Tech Solutions

All Access and Conference & Expo Pass Holders

01:30 PM – 02:30 PM

Build Your Brand By Being The Experts
Executive

All Access and Conference & Expo Pass Holders

Learn how to build your reputation as the plant experts in your community, get the word out about your garden center and your further reputation with education that’s right for your market.

AJ Petitti
Speaker AJ Petitti President Petitti Garden Centers View Bio

01:30 PM – 02:30 PM

The Cannoli Factor of Employee Engagement
Management

All-Access and Conference & Expo Pass Holders

There are five things that motivate employees...and the funny thing is they have been the top five things for 50 years! Join John as he addresses the importance of one single word: Engagement! Learn how to turn your workplace culture into a property where your employees “want” to work and not “have” to work. Discover the value of a consistent on-boarding process, the continued success of The Great Game of Business, and the one value that employees look for out of a manager & leader.
John Kennedy
Speaker John Kennedy Owner John Kennedy Consulting View Bio

02:30 PM – 03:30 PM

Networking Refreshment Break in the Exhibit Hall
General Session

02:45 PM – 03:30 PM

Mobile Technology Drives Store Traffic, Loyalty and Gardening Success
Technology and Solutions
Sponsored By

The pandemic brought unprecedented demand to garden centers as gardening has become a go-to escape. The confluence of mobile technologies and increased consumer interest offers a unique opportunity for IGCs to grow store traffic, increase purchases, and improve gardening success. Join this presentation/Q&A session with PlantTAGG Founder & CEO Andrew Levi to hear how a Top 100 garden center uses PlantTAGG’s mobile technology to drive more foot traffic and build loyal relationships with customers.

Andrew Levi
Speaker Andrew Levi PlantTAGG View Bio

03:30 PM – 04:30 PM

Story-telling Tips From A Theater Nerd: How Retail Is Theater And It's Time To Play!
Executive

All-Access and Conference & Expo Pass Holders

From "casting" to scripting to setting the stage, retail and theater have more in common than you might expect. Join Liz, a garden center Managing Director who came to her role with fifteen years experience in the performing arts, to learn how she translates the principles used to create captivating performances for the stage into unforgettable experiences in a retail environment. From communicating your IGC’s unique story and marketing with meaning to creating an environment your customers will want to visit again and again, you’ll learn how to engage your core audience in a way that will have them giving you a standing ovation.
Liz Lark-Riley
Speaker Liz Lark-Riley Managing Director Rockledge Gardens View Bio

03:30 PM – 04:30 PM

How To Do More With Less
Management

All-Access and Conference & Expo Pass Holders

Attracting and retaining quality employees is one of the biggest challenges garden centers face every year. Learn how to invest in your top employees and help them make the most of their resources from staff to budgets and more to achieve great customer service, hit marketing goals and build your brand.

04:30 PM – 06:00 PM

Networking Reception in the Exhibit Hall
General Session

08:00 AM – 12:00 PM

Registration Open
General Session

08:00 AM – 09:00 AM

Networking Breakfast
General Session

09:00 AM – 10:00 AM

Diversity And Inclusion In The Garden Center
Executive

All-Access and Conference & Expo Pass Holders

Join our panel for a discussion about improving diversity and inclusion in the garden industry. From creating a space that encourages gardeners of all backgrounds to representative marketing to thoughtful outreach, the conversation will touch on various ways to make employees and customers feel welcome and included.
Jessica Castillo
Speaker Jessica Castillo Marketing & Events Director Rockledge Gardens View Bio
Jasmine Jefferson
Speaker Jasmine Jefferson Founder Black Girls with Gardens View Bio

09:00 AM – 10:00 AM

Consumer Psychology: How They Think Influences What They Buy
Management

All Access and Conference & Expo Pass Holders

Consumers have a lot on their mind and aren’t always rational. In this session, Bridget will share some current research-based information about how consumers think and shop. Pricing, pollinators, micromarketing, the environment and several more topics will be discussed and their influence on plant purchases.

Bridget Behe
Speaker Bridget Behe Professor of Horticultural Marketing Michigan State University View Bio

10:00 AM – 10:45 AM

Networking Refreshment Break
General Session

10:45 AM – 12:00 PM

Roundtable Discussion: Keep the Momentum Going
General Session

All-Access and Conference & Expo Pass Holders

Garden center operators have faced a litany of challenges over the last year, but there's great opportunity on the horizon. In this interactive workshop, attendees will have the opportunity to apply what they’ve learned during the conference to their businesses and discuss strategies with other leaders. Attendees will gather in roundtables to share possible solutions to the following topics:
• Repeat business: How can you improve your customers' experience to keep them coming back to your store again and again?
• The benefits of plants: How are you communicating what plants can do for your customers and the environment?
• Driving trends: How do you inspire your customers and lead customers?
• Education: How can you support customers and help them succeed, especially as so many new gardeners come to your IGC?
Facilitators will summarize roundtable discussions and share strategies with all attendees.

12:00 PM

Event Concludes
General Session