During its germination stage more than three decades ago, NHF had many champions. Among those was Randy Strode, founder and CEO of Agri-Starts, who took a back-to-basics, pragmatic approach when it came time for fundraising.
“I just started asking,” Strode said.
One of NFF’s early presidents, Strode recalls a conversation back in the early days with Theo Bryant which left an indelible impression. Strode said he was telling Bryant, president and owner of Heart of Florida Greenhouses, about the idea for the Foundation and how the plan was to create a strong endowment. And, to secure its footing in the future, they would only spend the interest the Foundation accrued.
“Theo, right away, said, ‘I’ll give you $5,000,'” Strode remembers. “I couldn’t believe how easy that was – and all I had to do was ask.”
Times may have changed but the need for industry to support research is still very relevant.
Strode has since passed down much of that wisdom to his son, Ty. The younger Strode now serves as vice president and marketing director of Agri-Starts, a family-owned supplier of plant tissue culture starter plants and services based in Apopka, Florida.
The younger Strode also emphasized how vital it is to continue foliage research to secure the success of those in this industry.
“We need new ideas on how foliage plants benefit people’s lives and wellness,” Strode said. “And all that comes down to research and science, and tools to market our plants better.”