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Landscape Ontario Expo spotlights great garden center

Opening keynote presents tips and insight from a lifetime nurseryman

"A tough economy and stiff competition makes for a challenging time in retail garden centres, but the pathway to success lies in getting back to basics and offering what today's guests are looking for," said Karl Stensson, president of Sheridan Nurseries.

Stensson, a third-generation nurseryman, has a lifetime of experience building a successful garden center business. He has toured the world looking for what works - and what doesn't - in building Canada's largest, multi-branch garden center business. He will share those secrets in the keynote address kicking off Landscape Ontario's Expo, Canada's fall trade show for the garden and floral industry, at 7:30 a.m. on Wednesday, Oct. 19.

"The only constant in gardening retail is change," Stensson said. "Being successful means more than stocking the latest trends in plants and accessories. Success comes from every aspect of the business, ensuring your guests have an enlightening and educational shopping experience."

The lessons Stensson learned have helped him grow Sheridan Nurseries into a grower-retailer operation that produces more than 700 varieties of plants on 400 hectares of land in Halton Hills and sells hardy ornamental plants, annuals, house plants, garden supplies, furniture, home décor and giftware at nine outlets in the Greater Toronto Area and Waterloo Region.

At Expo 2011, Stensson will share what he has learned, using pictures to showcase great entrances and the importance of making a good first impression on shoppers. He'll explore how to display plants and products and how to improve traffic flow through the center, ensuring guests get the most out of a visit. The secrets of exceptional guest services and the benefits of employing environmental practices will be discussed. Through it all, garden center owners will learn how to sell more products and increase their average sales.

"Karl Stensson is an industry trailblazer and a leader among his peers in the garden centre industry," said Michael Van Dongen, foreman/supervisor, Van Dongens Landscaping & Nurseries Limited, Hornby, Ont. "Besides being a pre-eminent grower of hundreds of varieties of hardy nursery stock; his company, Sheridan Nurseries is a destination of choice for consumers looking for the best quality and variety of plant materials and lifestyle related products."

Landscape Ontario's Garden Center Sector group, host of the event and the Awards of Excellence Ceremony, is honored to present a speaker holding the industry stature of Stensson. "Karl has taken lessons he's learned from his ancestors, dating back to 1913, and insights gleaned from his international travels to create outstanding garden centers that bring customers back - daily," Van Dongen added. "Garden center owners and indeed all retailers will learn his secrets of success at the opening keynote for Expo 2011."

The registration fee for Stensson's presentation includes breakfast and an EXPO 2011 trade show badge. The Awards of Excellence Ceremony for the Garden Centre and Grower Programs, held during breakfast, is included. Tickets for "Taking a Good Garden Center and Making it GREAT" are $55 for Landscape Ontario members; $75 for non-members with early-bird pricing in effect until Oct. 7. It is recommended that tickets be purchased early at the new affordable pricing. Retail owner/operators, retail store sales and customer service personnel will gain insights from the presentation.

For industry professionals interested in the Expo 2011 trade show only, the registration fees for Landscape Ontario members are $10 and $15 for non-members until Oct. 7. Prices increase after Oct. 7. Registration is now open. Visit www.loexpo.ca for details.

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