To say that it’s a bit crazy around here at Practical Software Solutions is a bit of an understatement. No, people aren’t bouncing off the walls or doing anything completely abnormal. But we are extremely busy with two of our biggest events of the year on tap over these next two weeks.
Right now, the Grower Vertical team is in Columbus, Ohio, for the OFA Short Course, the premiere horticulture educational event in the country. This is the fourth year we’ve been an exhibitor, showing off Grower Vertical, the module we developed for Sage ERP specifically for the horticulture industry. The trade show started yesterday and will run through Tuesday afternoon.
It’s amazing watching the horticulture industry changing right before our eyes. Most, if not all, of the large-scale greenhouse growers in the United States are still family run businesses. However, as they grow into multi-million dollar businesses, some still try to operate “how the family’s always done it.”
What we’ve done is asked greenhouse growers to look at their business as manufacturers look at their business. They go through many of the same steps to produce a plant — whether it’s a young plant that’s going to another greenhouse or a finished plant heading to a garden center — that a traditional manufacturer does.
The difference lies in dealing with a live product. That traditional manufacturer will take the same amount of time to produce a widget whether it’s in January or July. A plant will take different times to grow depending on what time of the year it is. That’s where the Grower Vertical module comes in. We’ve developed a system that accounts for those seasonal changes, for planning through a forecast, and for many other issues the industry is dealing with. This way, they can use a traditional manufacturing business solution while accounting for their own nuances.
We love going to the OFA Short Course and being able to share our product with the industry. We may not have a beautiful display of flowers or impressive machinery chugging away in our booth, but we love being able to have lengthy conversations with interested people in front of our large-screen television. It’s great watching people slow down as David Sugg is giving a live demonstration or Greg Lafferty is showing how Scan by Cart works.
But the fun doesn’t end there. When the guys come back on Tuesday night, they’ll get a few days to catch up before we head out to Sage Summit in Washington, D.C., on Sunday. That may sound a bit hectic, but at least the two events don’t overlap like they did two years ago.
Whereas the OFA Short Course is mainly about talking to potential customers (although we love connecting with our current customers there, too!), Sage Summit is all about our current customers.
Even though the event starts out just for partners, that doesn’t mean it’s not also about our customers. The partner conference allows us to learn about product updates, industry trends, and third-party products — all the things that we can learn about to make us better a better partner for our customers.
Then, when the customers start arriving on Tuesday, we get a chance to connect with our customers one-on-one. As corny as it may sound, being able to meet a customer face-to-face is so important to us. Yes, we talk to our customers on a regular basis. But there’s nothing like a handshake and a smile to really connect with someone. Plus, we also get a chance to thank them for being our customer by showing them a really good time.
Yes, it’s a few weeks of absolute exhaustion and hard work. But we wouldn’t have it any other way.