MANTS50 was the start of the 2020 garden season for many in the horticulture industry.
What is MANTS?
MANTS incorporated in 1970 and is known as the Mid-Atlantic Nursery and Trade Show. It is a tradeshow that brings the Horticultural Industry together in January for networking and sharing their products. Initially, there were only 64 exhibitors. Now there are 950+ exhibitors and over 11,000 paid registrants. This is an event where the attendees know MANTS means BUSINESS.
I had the opportunity to speak with Valerie A. Finney, Executive Vice President. What an honor for this wonderful woman to take time to share a few memories with me.
Who sponsors MANTS?
Each of the states where MANTS has held a trade show sponsors MANTS. The Maryland Nursery, Landscape, and Greenhouse Association (MNLGA), Virginia Nursery & Landscape Association (VNLA)and the West Virginia Nursery & LandscapeAssociation (WVNLA).
How is the Akehurst family an integral part of MANTS?
Carville M. Akehurst was her father. He was a horticulturist and native of Baltimore. A partner in the family business, Akehurst Nurseries, Mr. Akehurst was active in many different horticulture associations and became the Executive Secretary of the Maryland Nursery and Landscape Association. Becoming Executive Vice President of what is now known as the Mid-Atlantic Nursery and Trade Show, Mr. Akehurst was integral in the successful growth of the show.
What a way to honor the memory of her father, by staying involved.
What are the top reasons you feel people in the trade attend MANTS50?
Participants attend to see new products and services and engage in commerce by purchasing what is needed;
Network and forge new relationships;
Maintain and continue traditional business opportunities;
What is the value of attending MANTS50?
Professional networking is key at MANTS. The social advantages are determined by each registrant. Remembering coming to MANTS as a child with her father, Valerie Finney has seen vendors come as first-timers and grow year by year. Familiar vendors who have aged over the years are like family. This tradeshow allows in-real-life connectivity of people to people.
Moving from Williamsburg, Cockeysville, Maryland, Hunt Valley, West Virginia and Norfolk, MANTS found a home in Maryland. MANTS has developed a commitment to the City of Baltimore that extends beyond the Show floor. There is a waiting list of vendors who would like to exhibit at MANTS. Currently, the show floor is at capacity. MANTS has vendors from the USA, Canada, Europe, and other global connections as well.
What changes have you noticed over the years?
MANTS50 in 2020 is a defining year for MANTS. Fifty years is a long time and being relevant is a big deal. MANTS is here for the longterm. Even with technology, it is hard to buy a plant or heavy equipment sight unseen. Meeting with the vendors in person provides an opportunity to cultivate a relationship. As the industry evolves, the bond grows and becomes a partnership over time.
What is the most exciting thing you have noticed about the future of horticulture as it relates to MANTS50?
The emerging base. There is an increase of young professionals that are registering and attending each year. The current multigenerational groundswell of attendees means that the interest in horticulture is not waning. Interest in horticulture is growing. We have to harness that interest and make certain that it continues to grow. The future of MANTS will diversify as it embraces technology, new plants, and innovative horticultural services.
Press Breakfast Nuggets
I listened to more memories at the MANTS50 Press Breakfast. Fletch Flemer, Ingleside Nurseries, Robin Rinaca, Eastern Shore Nursery of VA, Danny Shreckhise, Shreckhise Nurseries, and Ed Tankard, Tankard Nurseries each shared memories of MANTS.
The noticeable differences in how the show was and what the show has become, is amazing. One of the differences included less small private nurseries and more large corporations. There are more women decision-makers in the industry. Flowering products and technology have become integral components of a successful show as well.
The moderator, William Verbrugge, Nursery Sales Association collectively shared thoughts on what lies ahead. A few items he pointed out were the need to offer scholarships to encourage the next generation to pursue horticulture as a profession, and the need for public spaces to educate the consumer. Garden communicators can help do this and more. MANTS is a vehicle that helps us write the stories for the seasons ahead.
People in the horticulture industry value MANTS. It is like a winter family reunion. After a year filled with challenges and climate change, we can all use a break. As we anticipate the next season, this opportunity to network, grow your business and see what is new comes at the right time!
MANTS starts our year out right!!by