Nursery operators see uptick at annual Farwest Show

Mitch Lies/Capital Press Participants in the Farwest Show said sales improved this year after three down years.

'This year, the mood has definitely changed'

By MITCH LIES

Capital Press

PORTLAND -- Nursery executives and sales representatives were upbeat on day two of the three-day Farwest Show as they talked about an industry emerging from a major downturn.

"It's not like it was four or five years ago, but it's been better than the last couple of years," David Annand, West Coast sales manager for Bailey Nurseries, of St. Paul, Minn., said about this year.

"The nursery sales are bouncing back a bit," he said. "We're excited about that. We're seeing it go in the right direction."

Asked the mood at the 2012 national nursery and greenhouse trade show, John Colbeck of Sester Farms in Gresham, Ore., said: "I would say there definitely is more optimism in the air. I think the light at the end of the tunnel is a little closer.

"It's not 2004, and it's not 2005. But it's also not 2010 and 2011," he said Aug. 24.

Noah Bell, nursery manager for Bamboo Garden in North Plains, Ore., said the bamboo specialist saw sales slump slightly during the recession, but didn't take as big a hit as some.

"Bamboo popularity increased tremendously the last 10 years," Bell said. "Even when the economy went into a recession, there was enough new interest to keep us going."

Joel Johnson of Eshraghi Nursery in Hillsboro, said he was "up double digits in sales" this year from the previous two years.

"The last few seasons have been doom and gloom in general with Oregon growers," Johnson said. "But this year, the mood has definitely changed."

Elizabeth Peters, spokeswoman for the Oregon Association of Nurseries, said she, too, had been hearing positive comments from growers.

"There is definitely a positive feel here," she said. "I'm also hearing that growers are writing orders."

Gary Furr, chief operating officer of J. Frank Schmidt and Son Co. in Boring, Ore., said his sales were flat this spring, but initial spring bookings for next year were promising.

"I think there is starting to be a shortage of product," he said. "I'm optimistic that things have bottomed out and are starting to come back up."

As for the show, Furr said visitors "are more serious about buying than the last couple of years, when people seemed to come here to just look at plants."

Jeremy Moore of Iseli Nursery in Boring, agreed with other vendors.

"The mood is more upbeat," he said. "I think everybody had, if not a great increase, at least a slight increase in sales this year."

"There is no more doom and gloom," he said.

The Farwest Show ran through Aug. 25 at the Oregon Convention Center.

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