The minutes of the October meeting were reviewed and approved. Long-time members Brad Brown of Glacier Nursery & Jerry Cashman of Cashman Nursery were asked by the executive director to join the board meeting discussion regarding MNLA finances. Lori suggested a number of potential financial outcomes, depending on the success of the Expo. The board discussed a variety of options regarding future activities ofundefinedand costs toundefinedthe association. Because there will not likely be enough funds in the operating budget to fulfill the executive director contract, the board is also discussing ideas for running the association through volunteers. A follow-on special meeting to continue financial planning will be held next week. The membership has voted to elect Bob Broughton from Empire Landscaping to the MNLA Board. He will join the board for the January 2011 meeting. Shane reported on behalf of the legislative committee, describing progress toward a new nursery license bill.
The minutes of the September meeting were reviewed and accepted with no changes. One final candidate for the MNLA Board of Directors will be sent via ballot to the voting membership. Lori reported that there are now more booth bookings than last year at this time. She attributes the higher number to the board outreach campaign. Some of the board members have also been discussing membership with lapsed members. The remaining membership list was divided amongst board members for making calls. The board also discussed the location of the 2012 Expo and decided that for mainly financial reasons and because of lack of interest in Missoula last year, the Expo will be held in Billings. The board agreed that a return to the west sideundefinedas soon as financially viableundefinedis important for the membership. The board also discussed opening the 2012 seminar sessions of the Expo to the public. Lori will develop a plan for doing this. Shane reported progress on the licensing issue. The Legislative Committee met with legislators in September. The board will contact members to remind them to contact their representatives to push for passage of the bill in January. Lori also reported that there are eight entries for the Best of Montana Landscapes Awards.
The board meeting was held in conjunction with the MNLA Fall Tour in the Bitterrroot Valley. The minutes of the June meeting were reviewed and accepted with no changes. Prior to the meeting, the executive director communicated continued concerns about the repercussions on the association of the down economy. Her memo noted that membership is down considerably, advertising is down, and there has been a downward trend in Expo attendance and sponsorship. The board divided the list of past exhibitors who have not yet signed up and will contact those organizations with an invitation to exhibit at or sponsor the Expo. A list of other potential exhibitors was also developed for board contact. Progress will be reported at the October board meeting. At that time, the board will divide the list of members who have not renewed and contact them regarding rejoining MNLA or bringing lapsed membership up to date. Board nominations were discussed. Two candidates have been identified and the board hopes to confirm them both for an October mail ballot. The first ever September issue of The Leaflet (which replaces the previous August and December issues as part of the cost-saving campaign) is in the mail. The ED called for nominations for Member of the Year. Holly reported on the AMTOPP Day of Service. Shane reported progress on the licensing issue. A bill has been drafted and will be reviewed with two senators this month. David reminded the board that MNLA members need to let their representatives know how important the bill is to the industry. Dan reviewed non-exhibitor solicitation issues, and the board discussed the need for volunteers to “police” the trade show entry.
The prior meeting minutes were reviewed and approved with no changes. Lori reviewed the financials, noting the organization currently has adequate cash, but will not know how well we are doing until after July membership renewals. Second half of priority booth bookings are also due on July 1. The financials were approved by the board. The first on-line only edition of the Leaflet newsletter was posted on June 15th. An email notification regarding the newsletter was sent out to all members for whom we have emails. Website hits increased by 45 since the posting. It was decided that MNLA will email the membership for their comments on the on-line edition of the newsletter. Lori reported 57/90 booths sold for the 2011 Expo. The board will be reviewing prior Billings Expos to identify and contact exhibitors who are not yet signed up for 2011. The draft Fall Tour brochure was reviewed. MNLA member Roger Joy has worked hard with a group of Bitterroot Valley members to put together a great tour. Some of the finances still need to be worked out. The mailers will be finalized and mailed as soon as possible. The next board meeting is planned for September 10th, the evening prior to the Fall Tour. Shane Rogers reported on the out-of-state licensing issue and noted that the bill should be drafted by the legislative committee prior to the Fall Tour. The scholarship application received by MNLA was reviewed and scored by the board and it was decided to award the recipient with the full award. Lori will notify the scholarship recipient before the end of the month. The board reviewed board tasks, and the next newsletter company profile was chosen.
Lori reviewed the financials which were approved by the board. Lori reported that approximately one-third of the membership had renewed by the time of this meeting. The upcoming April 22nd Day of Service details and outstanding needs were reviewed by Steve Lehenbauer. Several member companies are donating plant and other materials, services, and use of equipment for the event. Shane Rogers reported in on the out-of-state licensing issue. The content, logistics, and cost of a member mailing regarding the issue were discussed and details finalized. Lori reviewed the planning details for the 2011 Montana Green Expo to be held in Billings. She reported that most of the speakers she invited have been engaged for the EXPO. 48 of 90 booths have been sold to date. The Great Green Ideas session was discussed and it was decided to consolidate the discussions into two sessions. Lori reminded board members to do some personal outreach for new members and Leaflet advertisers. Lori drafted an invitation to AMTOPP to join the Fall Tour and fall board meeting.
Fiscal-year-end and year-to-date financials were reviewed and approved. The Native Plant Seminars were discussed and suggestions were noted for future seminars. The membership report was reviewed. Lori pointed out that membership was down at the beginning of 2010. All members have been invoiced through July 2010 and all members have been converted to a July 1 renewal date. The Leaflet newsletter was discussed. The boards was asked to help recruit new advertisers. New hyperlinks have been added to the Leaflet to expand the reach for contributors and advertisers. Shane reported on the progress of the Legislative Committee. They continue working with the Department of Agriculture and will seek opinions from members. The board worked with Lori on recommendations for topics and speakers for the upcoming Expo. Lori will begin inviting speakers immediately. The breakfast of Champion topics were discussed, and several ideas were considered for making the Exhibitor Demos more accessible and better attended. Demos will also be added to the Expo Evaluation Form. AMTOPP will be invited to the Fall Tour and to the board meeting in conjunction with it. A committee will be formed to review annual EXPO resource sharing ideas with AMTOPP.
The board continued its financial discussions and approved a new operating budget. A few short-term loans from members have been received. As part of the cost-cutting and fee management activities, the board agreed to the following: The 2011 Expo will be a two-day as opposed to three-day event and some costly activities were reorganized or eliminated. The newsletter publication schedule was changed from four times annually to three timesundefinedMarch, June, and September, with one issue (June) published on-line only. These measures will greatly affect the cost of producing, printing, and mailing the newsletter, while continuing to provide an informative publication for members. Several features will be added to the on-line versions of the newsletter at no cost to MNLA to increase the reach for advertisers. A restructuring of the Annual Membership Directory and Buyers Guide was agreed to. The information will remain the same, but the design will incorporate cost-saving changes. Based on the vote by members at the last Annual membership Meeting, it was decided to include in membership fees a $10 donation to the ANLA Lighthouse fund. Members who do not want to participate can deduct the $10. It was agreed that the ED would send membership renewals out early in an effort to bring needed revenues into the first two quarters of the year. It was also voted to increase advertising costs by 10%. Expo attendee fees, which have not been raised to keep up with rising costs, were increased, and a slight adjustment was made to exhibitors’ fees. It was noted that Member-at-Large Dan Devore is now a board member of AMTOPP. The board discussed ideas for working to share resources with AMTOPP moving forward. The March planning meeting was scheduled.
A Special Meeting of the Board of Directors of MNLA was held on 3 February to discuss the finances of the organization. It was decided to seek special short-term loans to keep the organization solvent while it restructures fees and expenses. The executive director proposed a new operating budget, and a number of cost-saving ideas and fee increases based on research of similar organizations. Board members also proposed cost-cutting and fee-raising considerations related to the Expo, programs, and publications. Motions were made and passed to increase membership fees, and to revert to a July 1 renewal date for all members. The board requested that the ED finalize a contract for the 2011Expo to be held in Billings. A number of finance related action items were assigned for completion prior to the next regular board meeting.
The board meeting concentrated on the details of the Expo. The board reviewed the program, logistics, assignments, speaker introductions, and Membership Meeting agenda. The upcoming meeting with the Montana Department of Agriculture was discussed. The meeting will be held on Friday, January 8th, 2010 after the close of the Expo. The goal of the meeting is to form a committee of interested members to bring a bill to the legislature in 2011 to restore licensing reciprocity with other states. The financials were reviewed and discussed. Lori noted that unless there were a very high number of walk-in registrations at the Expo, association revenues will fall short of requirements. The 2010 board meeting schedule was finalized.
It was reported that 11 booths remain unsold. Several additional booths must be sold along with several more registrations in order for us to break even. The additional costs associated with bringing the Expo to Missoula were reviewed, as were the efforts to keep costs to a minimum. The board discussed the submission of their drafts for the annual reports. The Breakfast of Champions was finalized with 8 table topics and moderators. Board Expo assignments were discussed, and will be detailed at the January meeting prior to the Expo. The board was asked to go to the membership to try to find some volunteers for the Expo. Draft talking points for the upcoming out-of-state licensing issue meeting with the Montana Department of Agriculture were presented and reviewed. It was noted that Susan Smith, board secretary will be leaving the board. A search for a new secretary will begin immediately with the hope of filling the position before the January board meeting. The PLANET Day of Service was discussed. The board will be looking for a project in the Billings area.