President's Letter: Time

June 14, 2023

Time is something I think of, and wrestle with, often.

As I pen my 12th President's Letter for Greenline, it’s hard to believe now looking back, an entire year has passed by so quickly. The paradox is of course that it never seems that way at the time, only when looking back.

A friend of mine once told me, in regards to dealing with our then-newborn babies, “the nights are long, but the weeks are short.”

Why is that? Taken a step further, amazingly to the point of disbelief, it’s been 22 years since I first heard Pink Floyd sing, “and then one day you’ll find, 10 years have got behind you.”

Looking back fondly on all those years, hopefully I haven't “missed the starting gun.”  

I recall from my childhood, my stepmother, Kathy, saying, “Time flies when you’re having fun!”

Maybe that’s the case here? While very difficult at times, making a career in horticulture - first with Big Trees Plantation, then with SiteOne Landscape Supply, and now with BioSafe Systems, is something that could very easily be placed into the ‘fun’ category. Frankly, I love my ‘job.’ Parallel to that is the honor of serving as President for the greatest green industry association in America, the FNGLA. At times, the task can be very difficult, but in most other instances, it is very enjoyable and rewarding. Kathy - if you’re reading this, you were right all along.  

Over the past twelve months I’ve had the distinct pleasure of meeting and spending time with some of the nicest, hardest-working folks in horticulture. From Marianna to Islamorada, and so many great places in between, it’s been exciting to learn about the many facets of FNGLA and our industry from the people who make it all work. Often, I get the get question, “how do you do it, with all the travel and a family?”

To which, I immediately reply, “How do YOU do it?”

Raising a family, running a business, participating in FNGLA..

Making a life, and not just a living, is something I’ve come to admire in so many of those people. My wife, Rachel, and I are attempting the same and are hopefully well on our way. Her support of me as an FNGLA Officer has been tremendous, while our two boys just think “daddy likes plants.” And they are correct. On weekends, when we’re home, we play in the yard while Jason Boland & The Stragglers sing ‘Mary Ellen’s Greenhouse’…

"Lookin' back from time-to-time, mostly forward now. | The present is a gift and if we lift it up somehow I know we'll all heal | Let the music take your prayers toward the sky. | Let 'em fly towards somethin' real.”

Thinking about time has helped me understand how fleeting it is, and thus how important it is to spend it wisely. Shortly after our FNGLA Annual Convention, my time as President will come to an end. Bittersweet no doubt, I will miss the excitement of the experience - good and bad - which has made me a better person for having gone through it.

With that, I’d like to issue a call-to-action, and a reminder. As an association, our businesses, our customers, our industry and way of life, are all under attack. People who, at best, don’t understand we perpetuate the beauty of ‘La Florida,’ or, at worst, simply do not care about you or your business, are aligning to see that we fail.

As President, I implore you all to become more active in your local FNGLA Chapter - meet people, plan events, strengthen your communities, and help FNGLA promote and protect our horticultural industry.

We have the better story to tell, and we absolutely need to tell it. Listening to Jason Boland again, I finish with the reminder of…

“Be God-fearin' rebels conscious on levels this world tries to kill with the pain. | Be one of the few with the sense to go out in the rain. |

May you outlive your demons and never find reasons for sickness or need of a dime. | Save what you will, but remember to spend all your time.”


Eric Smith

Eric Smith (BioSafe Systems, Tampa)


P.S. - A very special 'THANK YOU' to FNGLA CEO Tal Coley and the FNGLA staff, Immediate Past President Sarah Spatola, President-Elect Phil Buck, Secretary/Treasurer Phillip Hisey, and Jim Spratt. It has been an honor and a privilege to work alongside you all during my term as President.

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