January 4, 2017
Green Industry Poised for Continued Economic Growth in 2017
Positive economic indicators point to 2017 being a year of modest growth for the green industry, according to economist Charlie Hall.
January 21, 2016
Green Industry Is Set For Continued Growth In 2016
Economist Charlie Hall says the outlook for the green industry is promising despite the havoc wreaked on plant sales by the downturn in housing.
November 6, 2015
Economic Growth Will Fuel Garden Demand [2015 State Of The Industry]
The aphorism “a rising tide lifts all boats” is associated with the idea that improvements in the general economy will benefit all participants in that economy. The lawn and garden sector is no exception. However, we also know that garden center trends are dependent on a number of influences including seasonality, weather, competition from mass merchandisers and home centers, consumer spending patterns and region. The demand in the U.S. for lawn and garden plants and supplies is also regional and highly dependent on climate and growing conditions, as evidenced when snowy conditions in the northern half of the U.S. this year (and last year) delayed the spring gardening and landscaping season. But conversations with several retailers all across the country this year indicate that many have had strong monthly sales since spring started. Another bit of good news is that this trend is anticipated to continue, with personal consumption expenditures of bedding […]
January 19, 2015
2015 State Of The Industry: Current Green Industry Trends
Demand for green industry products and services is forecasted to increase in coming years as the housing market rebounds.
January 20, 2014
America In Bloom Spreads The Word About The Benefits Of Plants [Opinion]
Beautification efforts through America In Bloom benefit communities through environmental services, economic paybacks and health and well-being enhancements -- and they also benefit our industry.
June 10, 2013
How To Set Your Business Apart From The Competition
In one of my recent speaking engagements, I challenged participants in the audience to think about the real value that their firms provide to the marketplace. Afterwards I received quite a few Emails from folks asking how to create a compelling value proposition that would accentuate a growers’ competitive strategy in the face of this less-than-stellar economic recovery. To answer that, let me preface my remarks with an observation: Too many companies enter the marketplace today without having fully defined their customer value proposition. Instead, growers tend to market a nice list of “powerful” benefits (which, ironically, their competitors most likely state they have, too). Value Proposition Is More Than A Buy-LineLet me start by saying that the underlying purpose of a value proposition is to identify and satisfy an unmet need that your target market possesses. An effective value proposition describes what you do in terms of tangible business […]
March 27, 2013
Building Numbers Look Positive For Greenhouse Growers
Economic recoveries usually get their biggest kick from a rebound in the most cyclical parts of the economy. Consumer spending on big-ticket items tends to increase as worries about job security subside, hiring increases and income and household wealth rise. Once consumers are back on their feet, homebuilding (and associated landscaping) and business fixed investment typically ramp back up and inventories rise in line with the higher level of economic activity. Spending And Investment Are Increasing We now see the key cyclical drivers of economic activity kicking into a slightly higher gear. Spending for big ticket items appears to have caught a tailwind from the gradual improvement in the job market, the rise in home prices, and the booming stock market. Business fixed investment also appears to be on a sturdier foundation, led by strong private sector demand, a booming energy sector and somewhat-stabilizing global economy. Finally, homebuilding appears to […]
January 31, 2013
2013 Could Be The Turnaround Year
The Great Recession began more than five years ago now (December 2007). It also ended more than three and a half years ago (June 2009). Yet some 12 million Americans are still looking for a job, and millions more would say it hasn’t felt like much of a recovery at all, including folks who have seen their incomes stall or have been drowning in mortgage debt for years. Since the start of 2010, economic growth has averaged 2.2 percent, which would be just fine in normal times but is less than stellar considering the starting point was a time of mass unemployment and general economic despair. The nation is poised to approach the fourth anniversary of economic recovery this coming June with an output gap — the difference between what the economy is capable of producing and what it is actually producing — approaching $1 trillion. It will take […]
December 3, 2012
The Economy In 2013
Why does the economy feel so fragile even though it continues to be in the midst of a slow but steady expansion? It’s because we did not get the same bounce in growth that has typically followed previous recessions. After the downturn of the mid-1970s and early-1980s, the economy grew at close to 6 percent for two years — erasing all of the economic losses that had occurred. That surge never happened this time; we simply moved into a snail-paced, private sector expansion that has left us wanting more. Despite Trouble Abroad, U.S. Reaches Tipping Point Economic weakness in the euro zone is also not helping the U.S. economy. Problems in Europe have caused the value of the dollar to rise slightly, and weak European demand for imports is having a negative effect on the global economy. The fundamentals of our economy, however, have been trending more favorably in recent […]
October 24, 2012
And The Winner Is…
For the last few days, I was in Fayetteville, Ark., at the 2012 America in Bloom annual symposium. Besides experiencing some spectacular weather and one of the best downtown farmers’ markets I’ve seen in a while, there were some pretty enthusiastic cities that congregated for the annual awards program. For those of you who may have been out of the country for the past 11 years, America in Bloom (AIB) is a non-profit 501©(3) organization whose mission is to promote nationwide beautification through education and community involvement by encouraging the use of flowers, plants, trees and other environmental and lifestyle enhancements. Cities and communities that participate in AIB have the opportunity to participate in its friendly competition. In doing so, trained judges come to their town and evaluate it on six criteria: ➊ Floral Displays➋ Landscaped Areas➌ Urban Forestry ➍ Environmental Efforts ➎ Heritage Preservation ➏ Overall Impression Once the […]
September 5, 2012
Use Production Inputs Wisely
During the Great Recession, I witnessed a cost-centricity like I had never seen before in my nearly four decades of being affiliated with the green industry. By cost-centricity, I am referring to the tendency on the part of growers to reduce costs. After all, there are only two ways to increase profit margins — either increase sales or reduce costs. It’s easier (or at least perceived to be easier) to do the latter. Having grown up in the family nursery business, I know all too well the mentality of shaving every single cent from the value chain that is possible, but this last economic downturn forced us to tighten our belts even further than we had thought possible. Belt-tightening in depressed economic conditions involves reexamining both the demand and supply side of profitability. On the demand side, growers ask what products and how many of each they should be growing […]
August 17, 2012
Low Prices Do Not Sell More Plants
We worked with Meister Media Worldwide to learn more about customer behavior when faced with plants that are priced differently from comparable plants nearby. This is a joint effort involving The 10% Project and a study we will be analyzing extensively in a peer-review format later in the year. Before we talk about the results of our study, it’s important to explain a few economic and marketing concepts. Today’s Economic Conditions The Great Recession of 2008 had a major impact on the national floriculture industry due to job losses, home foreclosures, declining consumer confidence, lower business spending and inflationary pressures on some key production inputs. Due to the cumulative impacts of these stressful economic conditions, we find that several of our peers are no longer working in the industry, with some estimates of one in four firms lost as fallout. Of those that have survived, several we have interacted with indicated […]
July 9, 2012
Business Transitions And Growing Pains
This is a season of transitions. Being a university professor, the end of the semester brings some degree of reflection regarding the future of these bright minds as they progress onward in their life’s journey to their first career job, summer internship, part-time summer job, etc. It’s a transition period for school kids as well, as moms and dads look to the summers with both dread and excitement. I am reminded of this, having just returned from my oldest grandson’s eighth grade graduation ceremony. Seriously? A ceremony for graduating from the eighth grade? When I finished the eighth grade, the teachers just said get the heck out of here and on to high school! All of these circumstances, of course, are examples of evolving from the big fish in a little pond to the little fish in a bigger pond. Businesses experience this phenomenon too, as they grow from small […]
March 23, 2012
Politics, Presidents And The Economy
Campaign season. These two words conjure up images of stump speeches, issues debates, super PACS and truth stretching. Okay, maybe stretching is too harsh; perhaps manipulation of facts is more accurate? Nonetheless, the phrase “lies, darn lies” seems to come to mind more often these days. Because of this, in the coming months, you will hear much rhetoric about the economy because it is considered to be the pivotal topic for candidates on all sides of the fence. The irony is that you will hear some folks say we are doing as well as can be expected and others pronouncing economic Armageddon is just around the bend. The Economic Reality Personally, when I look at the fundamentals in the market, it seems clear (at least to me) that things really are on the upswing. No, the economy has not yet fully recovered from the downturn (and may not ever completely […]
January 6, 2012
Will 2012 Be A Repeat Of 2011?
Conjure up the image of enthusiastic Americans getting up in darkness on Black Friday and racing to shopping malls to spend hard-earned money. Now, contrast that with the heads of the major European countries acknowledging in the same week that the end of the euro is a distinct possibility. On one side of the Atlantic, cautious yet stubbornly optimistic Americans began to open their wallets and spend. On the other side, the line in the sand is being drawn and the cost of short-term borrowing nearly doubled in the last quarter of 2011. Whether Europe is able to identify a modern-day white knight country willing to lend multiple distressed European countries massive amounts of money at below-market interest rates, or whether the European Central Bank concludes it has no choice other than to print money, the end game in Europe may play out in the early part of 2012. If […]
September 20, 2011
Can We Survive Another Recession?
If the Great Recession can be likened to a massive coronary for the United States and world economies, then I guess we can say we are still in intensive care and in the process of undergoing extensive rehab. Recent indicators do indeed point to an economy that isn’t responding as quickly as we’d hoped to the medication and rehab we’re in the process of administering. On top of our economic recovery, our national debt and Congress’s reluctance to make tough decisions has put us in a non-enviable position heading into 2012. I guess that is what Standard & Poor was hinting at in its downgrade of U.S. treasuries earlier in the year, given that a big part of its rating model is a reflection of the current political environment. However, S&P’s unprecedented action hit the markets hard with its conclusion that our government is incapable of making any rational decisions […]
June 15, 2011
Oil, Onions & Other Tidbits
This spring season was a mixed bag. Depending on which part of the country you’re in, Mother Nature was either very kind or very temperamental. For the most part, growers reported sales were especially good during the good weather and surprisingly strong otherwise. The same could be said about the country economically, as well. Some areas of the country continue to recover from the economic downturn nicely and others are progressing slowly, if at all. Some improvements in the labor and housing markets have been experienced this year, but not as quickly as some had hoped. Much attention has been placed on oil prices and their supposed influence on consumer purchases. However, a recent study debunked this notion, finding that consumer purchases of other discretionary items are less influenced by gasoline prices than originally thought. Instead, they tend to substitute regular gasoline for premium when prices rise above their tipping […]
April 25, 2011
Consumer Interest In ‘Green’ Plants
The ornamental plant industry consists of a few large- and many medium- and small-scale growers. In recent years, the intense competition from large domestic and international growers has forced medium- and small-scale farmers to identify and explore new niche markets for their products through value-added marketing. Discovering a profitable niche market is a complicated task because consumer demand is highly diversified. Organically grown and locally grown food products have become increasingly popular in recent years. There is a belief that the demand for organic and sustainable floral products is increasing in the United States due to an emerging consumer segment focused on health and fitness, the environment, personal development, sustainable living and social justice. Our research focused on two questions: 1) Are some consumers more interested in ornamentals, vegetable transplants and herbs produced in sustainable ways than conventionally grown plants? and 2) Do some consumers have different levels of interest […]
March 31, 2011
The Value Of Biodegradable Containers
What drives a consumer to purchase one plant over another? Logical factors include plant type, need and price. But as more consumers begin to take note of environmental impacts associated with their households and the products they buy, the need to personify your product as meeting this “green” standard is essential. There are several ways firms can capitalize on this transition consumers are making to being “green,” including implementing new production techniques, lowering carbon footprint within your operation or offering plants in a more environmentally sustainable potting container. Unlike new production techniques and lowering carbon footprint, introducing biodegradable containers has the potential to offer a relatively easy and cost-effective means to target the “environmental consumer.” The potential for new biodegradable potting containers is good. In a recent study by Hall et al. (2010), approximately 84 percent of consumers valued a biodegradable potting container to the traditional plastic pot. Furthermore, four […]
August 16, 2017
Looking to Host an Intern This Year? Consider AFE’s Sch…
The American Floral Endowment is accepting applications for its Vic and Margaret Ball Intern Scholarship Program and Mosmiller Intern Scholarship Program until Oct 1. Interested companies can apply anytime to become a host employer.
August 15, 2017
Greenhouse Environmental Sensor is Truly “Out of This W…
Delta-T’s multi-parameter WET Sensor has been used by Chinese astronauts aboard the Tiangong-2 Space Lab to cultivate lettuce plants within the weightless atmosphere.
August 15, 2017
Griffin Becomes Newest Distributor for Master Nursery G…
The agreement allows Griffin to join Master Nursery’s network of more than 150 supplier partners, while giving Master Nursery access to new product and service options for member businesses in the Midwest, Rocky Mountain, and Pacific Northwest regions.
August 15, 2017
AmericanHort Has a New Director of Government Affairs
Tal Coley, a U.S. Air Force veteran who has an extensive background in issues advocacy, will play an active role in AmericanHort’s upcoming Impact Washington event in September.
August 15, 2017
How to Know Which Plastic Containers You Can Recycle
Michigan State University’s Garrett Owen offers tips to help you properly dispose of plastic containers, flats, and trays.
August 15, 2017
Ornamental Seed Scientist Francis Kwong Dies at Age 65
Kwong was most recently the Director of Seed Technology for PanAmerican Seed, and his research was instrumental in the development of calibrachoa, angelonia, and other plants.
August 15, 2017
Why Consumers May Be More Interested in Plants Than You…
A visit to a local lavender event is a reminder that when you tap into something consumers are excited about and want to experience, the reward can be long-lasting,
August 14, 2017
Canadian Greenhouse Conference Features Focus on Techno…
This year’s Canadian Greenhouse Conference kicks off on October 4, and there is no shortage of presentations devoted to how growers can implement new technology in their greenhouses.
August 14, 2017
How Young’s Plant Farm Invests in New Structures and Eq…
The Auburn, AL-based Top 100 Grower operation is improving its production infrastructure so it can continue to efficiently produce quality plants and keep up with demand.
August 11, 2017
Greenhouse Bench Systems Designed to Handle Any Space
HOVE bench systems from HOVE International can accommodate multiple levels while allowing for run-off water collection.
August 10, 2017
New Sensors Can Help You Manage Your Greenhouse Crop 24…
The wrong environmental conditions in your greenhouse can potentially lead to significant crop loss. Here’s how sensor technology manufacturers are helping you safeguard your greenhouse.
August 9, 2017
Lighting Technology Under the Microscope at Production …
Here’s a sneak preview of three lighting trends that will be discussed by Erik Runkle at the Production Technology Conference.