December 17, 2008

Winning Consumer Dollars

This is not an article on horticulture joining forces for a “Got Milk?” campaign. Those activities look like they are taking shape … maybe? In the meantime, we decided to focus on showing how to make an impact at the local level where the shovel hits the dirt. First, the numbers: The average U.S. consumer spent $46,409 in 2005 after taxes, and most of this went to housing, transportation and food. About $12,000 was left for discretionary items, and that’s what we are competing for. Discretionary spending is pretty interesting. Consider the average U.S. consumer spends $2,634 on food away from home, $426 on alcohol, $1,886 on apparel, $2,388 on entertainment, $126 on reading materials, $319 on tobacco and $5,204 on personal insurance and pensions. Forty years ago, spending more on going out to dinner than clothing would have been shocking. Today’s Americans are dressed down and casual. Are they […]

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December 17, 2008

State Of The Industry: A Search For Quality

In ornamental floriculture, we have learned how to manipulate plant growth through scientific research and have the ability to produce great plants at reasonable costs. We use short days, long days, supplement lighting, soil testing, water testing, tissue culture, biotechnology and plant growth regulators (PGRs), just to mention a few of the tools available to produce superior plants. The purpose of all the available tools for plant production is to provide products that will ensure the consumer can purchase plants they can be successful with and the plant manufacturers can control their cost of production. It seems as though in some cases, these tools are only used for the benefit of the manufacturer with little concern for the results the consumer might achieve. As an avid gardener, I have purchased plants that looked good on the retail shelf, planted them and then found out they would not grow. They didn’t […]

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December 17, 2008

State Of The Industry: The Independent Garden Center In Unchartered Waters

Most years at about this time, if you were to ask a garden center owner about his or her expectations for the coming season, you could pretty much predict the response: “Well, as long as we have good weekend weather in the spring I think we’ll do all right.” But ask that same question as 2008 turns to 2009 and the answer isn’t quite so predictable. Because nothing in today’s economic conditions seems predictable. Some retailers are surprisingly optimistic about 2009. Others are holding their breath while keeping a close eye on Wall Street and a tight grip on their checkbooks. And everyone wants to know where their customers will be on that first warm, sunny Saturday afternoon in April. Prepare To Succeed–Or You Won’t For many garden centers, the script for spring may already be written. Success this season could have less to do with what’s going to happen, […]

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December 17, 2008

Plastics Feeling The Pinch At Myers

Myers Industries will be closing three manufacturing facilities and streamlining much of its production, the company announced today. Only one of the three facilities closing is located in the United States. The U.S. facility is located in Sparks, Nev., and it produces nursery containers and other horticultural products. It is expected to close by March. The other two facilities are located in Canada–one in Surrey, British Columbia; the other in Brantford, Ontario–and they’re also expected to close in 2009. The three closures combined are expected to result in a loss of about 200 jobs, and production will now be distributed among five remaining manufacturing locations. John C. Orr, president and CEO of Myers Industries offered these thoughts in a news release: “After a thorough review, it was determined that this realignment will strengthen the competitive position of our lawn and garden brands by consolidating to strategic locations where we can […]

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December 17, 2008

Proven Winners Taking Action Against Illegal Propagators

Occasionally, you’ll read about growers who’ve been caught propagating cuttings illegally. But in many cases, those growers may get away with a slap on the wrist. Proven Winners North America takes a different approach. In the most recent year alone, Proven Winners, through Royalty Administration International (RAI), caught 137 growers illegally propagating its plants. And it is taking even more aggressive steps in the coming year to protect its breeders and the integrity of the industry. Since 2000, Proven Winners has levied assessments of more than $1 million against illegal propagators. To discourage illegal propagation, Proven Winners recently increased its illegal propagation fine from $1 to $2 per cutting. And RAI, an organization providing patent and royalty enforcement support to Proven Winners North America, flower breeders and other plant marketers, will be increasing the number of grower visits it makes with better territorial management and the hiring of additional field […]

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December 17, 2008

Production Tips For Top Performers: Lavandula Stoechas

Figures 1a and b. The flowers of Spanish lavender or L. stoechas have showy, whimsical bracts on top of the inflorescence, reminiscent of bunny ears. Few plants can match the romantic appeal of lavender. The silvery foliage and drifts of flowers are lovely in their own right but are also evocative of old-world charm and idyllic sun-drenched Mediterranean settings. Lavender plants are surely one of the best choices to line a sunny garden path, where brushing against them as you pass will release that classic scent. In a container garden, people can enjoy the fragrance and spiked inflorescences up close. Lavender is produced commercially for its essential oil, valued in perfumes and also has some medicinal and culinary uses. In floriculture, lavender is a desirable and popular part of both the herb and ornamental segments of the market. Lavenders are also a very practical choice for modern gardeners since they […]

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December 16, 2008

State Of The Industry: Rising To Challenges

Kicking off the year, we’ve identified the top 10 challenges growers are facing and the opportunities and strategies that come with them. 1) Profitability–Financial standing and banking relationships will be critical this year as lines of credit tighten up. Growers who rely on lines of credit for cashflow in between seasons may be in a precarious position if they have deep debts. We anticipate brokers, distributors and vendors will be pressured to help keep grower customers afloat in between seasons with extended payment terms, which will also put the supply chain at risk financially. The growers who will be best prepared to weather rising input and overhead costs will have low debt and have made investments in technologies that will lower their labor and energy costs. Smaller growers who are highly specialized or seasonal with low overhead should be nimble enough to adjust, too. Precise, high-quality production will be key […]

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December 16, 2008

An Icon Is Gone

Dr. Henry Marcellus Cathey died on Oct. 8, 2008 after 79 years here on earth. His life is a great contribution not only to ornamental horticulture but to our whole society. In the past few years, there have been many articles, notes and blogs describing his many accomplishments to our industry and the general public. But all the information written about Dr. Cathey is well known and shows the great depth of knowledge and skill he had in the fields of science, communications, consumers and people. So rather than repeat his accomplishments, I would like to share several stories that show how Dr. Cathey was an icon in our industry. Marc Cathey–The Mentor When I was working on my Ph.D. thesis on plant nutrition of ‘Better Times’ roses, my adviser, Dr. Ernest Bergman, and I decided to research the effects of 16 essential plant elements on the yield of this […]

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December 16, 2008

Sifting Through Labor Issues

Mas Labor’s Libby Whitley As federal agencies, labor recruiters and employer agents gathered in Dallas at the end of October to discuss the H-2 visa programs, a renowned labor expert offered her thoughts on the demand for temporary non-immigrant labor and outlined the ways employers can hire reliable workers in a difficult economy. Libby Whitley, president of MasLabor, is actively involved in legislative and regulatory matters affecting both the H-2A agricultural and H-2B non-agricultural seasonal labor programs. She was the only employers’ agent invited by federal officials to speak at the second annual H-2 forum held Oct. 28-29, 2008. Most of Whitley’s career has been devoted to labor issues, from work in Congress and the White House, to handling legislative matters for the American Farm Bureau and running the national Council of Agricultural Employers. A no-nonsense businesswoman, Whitley sees overreaching government intrusion and confusing, often contradictory regulations, as the greatest […]

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December 16, 2008

State Of The Industry: Branding In Action

What does it take to be a king or queen of branding? Well, a great product for starters. Beyond that starting point, you’ll need a meaningful message and a forum to relay that message. A few plant brands are setting the bar high in our industry and designing the templates for getting messages across to consumers. Here’s a glance at what these brands have been up to lately, and what they’ve done to position themselves as leaders. Hort Couture The original idea for this brand was to create a program for independent retailers with high-fashion design and marketing, as well as high-quality plants. But Hort Couture has taken off in such a short time and is easily recognizable now because of a strategic marketing campaign that’s positioned the brand as the one that does plants with style. This year, Hort Couture hosted its first Dressed For Success display contest for […]

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