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The Hairy Woodpecker

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Everything Old is New Again

Every so often we hear comments that the way business was conducted before the digital age is no longer valid. This line of thinking seems to suggest that to move forward business managers need to abandon the past. But innovation isn’t immaculate conception. Innovation typically takes an established form and reinvents it – infusing time-tested functions and objectives with new ideas empowered by technology, not destroyed by it. Ken Olling, an interactive iPad developer based in Norway, says we need to pay attention to the traditions of printed communication because “it’s very effective and readers like it.” He takes that approach and applies it to digital, and in so doing he is recognizing the need to cut through the noise with clear, well-devised and designed content, using tools both old and new.  In essence: to communicate.

These days business-to-consumer communication is heavily internet-based, and mobile consumers are using tablets rather than computers to keep up with news and information. That means your print content should be optimized for the medium. Content designed for tablets is more valuable to users, hence more likely to draw paying customers in the long run. In other words use yesterday’s best methods, and adapt them to work with today’s technology. 

If there is a lesson to be drawn from the stories of such Innovators it’s that reinvention matters. More than ever, we must be willing to experiment with many different models over the long-term and see what sticks, while maintaining focus on those activities that actually bring in the cash flow in the short-term. Focus cuts through the noise.

Armstrong Milling Acquires Scotts’ Canadian Bird Food Business

Armstrong Milling Company Limited, a leading Canadian manufacturer of premium wild bird and caged pet food announced their acquisition of Scotts' Canadian wild bird food business from subsidiaries of The Scotts Miracle-Gro Company. 

The acquisition of brands Morning Melodies™ and Nutri Thrive™ add strength to Armstrong’s product selection, and will expand the company’s ability to communicate and educate the benefits of wild bird feeding to consumers.  "Armstrong has been packaging the Scotts brands in Canada for over seven years and is excited to take on the added role of marketing a great Canadian brand" says Ken Zantingh, Co-founder and principle of Armstrong Milling.  "We expect to supply the customer base 100% complete and on time over the transition period and for many years to come."

With more than 60 employees and 50,000 square feet of state-of-the-art production and distribution facilities the company’s flow-through racking ensures the seed being shipped is always fresh. And as one of the first wild bird food packers to achieve a Safe Quality Foods (SQF) level 3 certificate from NSF International, Armstrong is an industry leader in both manufacturing and product quality.

Plant Milkweed, Save the Monarch

An information piece put out by the University of Florida in concert with the Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation and the Butterfly Conservation Initiative (www.butterflyrecovery.com) says you can ask for native milkweeds at your local garden center to provide a food source for larvae of the monarch butterfly.   In addition to a somewhat showy flower, milkweeds offer abundant high quality nectar to pollinators including bees, butterflies and hummingbirds, and can help restore breeding habitat for monarchs.

There are dozens of varieties of milkweeds – named for the milky latex sap which contains alkaloids and cardenolides, complex chemicals that make the plants unpalatable to most animals.  Some scientists, however, are concerned that one or more may have negative impacts on monarchs, so to avoid potential risks associated with introduced varieties, only native milkweeds should be grown.  Inventories of milkweeds are expected to increase steadily as growers gear up to meet demand for home gardens and habitat restoration projects.

Trick and Treat

You’ve heard of crows and other North American birds using sticks as tools to reach food, but the Forked-tailed drongo, a particularly intelligent African bird goes one better… they mimic other species’ alarm calls to cause the other bird to abandon its food which the drongo then steals.  Knowing their ploy would soon be detected the drongo can fool the target species awhile longer by flexibly varying the type of call they use.

Wild Bird Expo™ to Host "Heart of America Gift Show"

The 2014 Wild Bird Expo™, in conjunction with the first ever Heart of America Gift Show will be held in Mexico, MO on October 7th, 8th and 9th.  Key Note Speaker is Stan Tekiela, author of many state specific field guides on birds, wildflowers, butterflies, trees, mammals, and more.  Brenda Wright, Show Coordinator, said "We are happy to announce the return of Stan Tekiela as a keynote speaker at our 2014 Expo.  Stan was also a speaker last year and feedback from participants was really complimentary."  Wright adds, "Stan's session will be part of Wednesday's seminar line-up that retailers rate as one of their main reasons for attending the Expo."  Gold Crest owner Mel Toellner will also lead a session on "Keys to success in building volume and net returns in a retail Backyard Nature Business or Department."

To accommodate buyer requests for more shopping time, this year's Tuesday night opening event, Beer, Brat & BBQ Welcome, will be held at the Gold Crest warehouse on the trade show floor.  This will be a full-blown Oktoberfest with a German Band and additional German-themed refreshments and gifts for all. Vendor booths and the GCD show floor will be open throughout the evening. 

Morning Bird Walks on Wednesday and Thursday are also part of the schedule, as well as visits to Songbird Station (our retail concept test store) in Columbia, MO.  The retailer Idea Share Night and retailer led training seminars are another feature consistently ranked by buyers as the #1 reason to attend.

With 40,000 Sq. Ft. of space added to the building and a vendor list of over 100 exhibitors, there will be lots more room for new products. Part of this expansion includes more gift-related products and this year will mark the first official co-hosting of the Heart of America Gift Show.

The popular warehouse aisle shopping, discounts on everything, and the garage sale will all return.  Also, Free Goodie Bags ($200 value) help cover air fare / transportation costs.  The Expo still covers nearly all costs for attendees including hotel rooms, meals, and shuttles from the St Louis airport and around the Expo sites, through the support of Gold Crest Distributing and the 100+ exhibiting vendors. Visit www.wildbirdexpo.com or call Brenda Wright, Show Coordinator at (888) 985-2473; or email: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .