October 19, 2009
Now Is The Time For National Promotion
Time to kick the hornet’s nest: Now is the time for a national marketing program for our products. We just survived the scariest spring in recent memory. Many of us did it by growing and selling less material. Many of us lost sales, especially those who grow bigger-ticket items like shrubs. We survived, but not without cost. Remember our great growth spurt of the past decades? The experts say that spurt is well over, and many of our markets are flattening or shrinking. Plus, the environmental movement has its costs. We may have to retool what and how we grow, and many of us really don’t understand younger consumers. Taking Action So, I think it is time to say we need help to grow the market–and to help direct messages to consumers about how great plants really are. Growing the market will help all of us–all products, all […]
May 5, 2009
Scullin: How Did Spring Play Out?
Sitting here mid-spring at the end of April, there are bits of good and bad news to report. First, spring has arrived, despite the naysayers. Birds are singing, lawns are greening and folks are in the garden centers. Despite the gloom and doom, the world did not end. Second, from many reports, people are shopping in both big box and independent garden centers. From a bedding plant perspective, items are moving at a good pace. Some regions of the United States are worse than others, but from all early indications, bedding plants are selling at or near last year’s pace in many markets. To quote from this past year’s Pack Trials: “Flat is the new up.” Depending on weather and region, I’m hearing slightly up or down 5 percent compared to last year. Third, on the expensive stuff, read “expensive” as shrubs, trees or anything with a retail price of […]
November 18, 2008
Survivability 101 by Laurie Scullin
I know we’re looking ahead 25 years, but let’s start with a few words and one chart (see below) on why you should market. First, the chart. From 2002 to 2007, wholesale sales of floriculture crops ranged from $3.95 billion in 2002 to a high of $4.15 billion in 2005 to a slight decline to $4.10 billion in 2007. Looks pretty good. But look what happens when we factor in inflation. Our industry sales in total dollars shrank every year from 2002 to 2007! Much of the growth we did see in the 1990s was due to big box chains building more stores rather than building new customers who love planting flowers. So, when the big box stores slow their expansion, we slow down or shrink! Worded another way, our notoriously under-marketed industry is now paying the piper for not developing new customers to replace old customers. Even with the […]
September 18, 2008
McCain, Obama & A Kilt
InstaKilt is driving its marketing message home–literally. So why shouldn’t growers do the same to promote plants? The trade shows seemed a tad quiet to me this year. I’m not sure about attendance, but higher gas prices and poor spring weather have dampened the mood as we get ready for 2009. So, let me put you in a worse mood, and then offer a goofy solution connecting the presidential campaign and an item as simple as a beach towel. Let’s start with the election. How many of you have factored your production grow plan down because of the election? And I mean way down. We are going to see shrinking demand, and it will all be because of John McCain and Barack Obama. Why, you ask? For starters, we are going to have two straight months of TV commercials telling us how poor we are, how the economy is terrible, […]
July 9, 2008
Are Packs The New Black?
OK, so we have had a lot of family stuff these past few weeks – plus I’ve been in the home office working with my head down, so clearly I’m not spending enough time out in real world, because I just drove past the local gas station and a gallon of gas cost $3.79. It had been about $3.25 last I remembered, so first I said a really bad word, because I was surprised and shocked. Then I had to laugh at myself for being an idiot. Of course we will see $4-and-up gas this summer. I’ve clearly spent too much time sleeping in my cave in Florida — old Rip van Winkle would be chuckling at me. I knew that oil passed $120 a barrel. I knew all about sub-prime and the bursting of the residential housing bubble. I could tell ya’ about it in great detail — what the Fed has […]
June 24, 2008
Listening To Cassandra
I’m writing just after OFA – the Big Kahuna of greenhouse trade shows. There were trends to talk about, but first I want to share my story of Cassandra. Before horticulture, I majored in archaeology in college. Both fields involved being outside digging holes and ancient history has always held a level of fascination. I really believe that in a large sense what we are today is so often what we were in the past. And if you go back far enough in history you will run into Cassandra, a prophetess of Greek mythology fame who had an amazing curse. Cassandra could see the future, but her curse was no one believed her. Perhaps her most famous moment was in the city of Troy, where she said something like, "Do not let the big wooden horsey into Troy. It’s full of bad guys," or words to that effect. What does […]
June 20, 2008
R U Ready?
So the other day I was attending the Canadian Greenhouse Conference and had a chance to sit in on the keynote address. Anna Ball gave a fantastic presentation, talking about the industry and trends, sharing how she sees our future. Anna has been very consistent the past few years talking about sustainability and she talked about that again. In case you have been doing space travel the past few years, with the good help from former VP Al Gore and a rapidly warming planet, many/most consumers/voters are now aware of environmental issues. The green movement has moved from the fringes to center stage. If you cannot be fully "Certified Organic" you should at least be making your business and home "better" by shifting to products and practices that use less energy inputs. This is the drive to using products that are sustainable. A company that was focused on these issues would […]
June 18, 2008
Letter To Linda
Hello Laurie, I just wanted to write and let you know what a super article you wrote for the May issue of Greenhouse Grower. As a greenhouse grower, garden center owner and a retail florist (FTD and Teleflora), I can appreciate what you have to say about selling design elements. While I consider myself to stay current with the trends, I cannot say that for my grower … however, at least I have a grower who "thinks" like a retailer. Thanks again, Linda Zoerb President La Crosse Floral Co. Inc. La Crosse, WI Hi Linda, First, thanks for the kind words. It feels good to know that people agree or disagree with me. Also, congratulations for having a grower with a good feel for what the retailer wants. That is huge. Second, I do not have any real good solutions for this. All my ideas are way too radical. But if […]
June 17, 2008
Dot’s Pot — I Don’t Get It
I have been working on a project where I get to assist with some design work. That is the fun part of marketing. This is the part of marketing that you see on TV – the snappily dressed and witty ad agency folks all sitting around, drinking lattes, brainstorming ideas for the client, when one will jump up and shout "Eureka!" or some such. Now in my case, I sit around not so nattily dressed (Florida flip-flops do not the GQ list make), the latte is Folgers, but every so often I jump up and shout "Eureka!" if for no other reason than to wake the sleeping dogs. We are working with really, really good designers. The team is exceptional. Not a better agency team in the industry. Period – end of statement. We are also working with a breeding company’s design team. They are making sure we take care of […]
June 17, 2008
Starbucks (aka Fivebucks) & Vera Wang
Question – What do Vera Wang, Starbucks and bedding plants all have in common? Answer–They are all used in decorating decisions by our customers. Some of you faithful readers of this column will likely be able to connect Vera Wang to a geranium, but the coffee giant Starbucks may be a leap. Let me attempt to connect the dots. Any of you who know me know what a snappy dresser I am–baggy jeans, old denim shirt and clogs. There’s a random chance my belt and shoe color will match. Dressing up is to iron the above mentioned denim shirt. If it doesn’t come from Land’s End or Target, I do not own it. I think I am pretty typical of most of my fellow Y-chromosome brethren with my very badly developed (or cared about) fashion sense. For you fellow fashion plates out there in reader land, Vera Wang is […]
June 17, 2008
Curtains And The Y Chromosome
For years, I have been blaming our industry woes on gender issues, and this morning it really hit home. I think I had an epiphany. Simply put, fire all your male employees. We have failed. We do not "get it" and we never will. We are but dinosaurs. It is time we all lumber out to the dinosaur plains and munch on tree limbs, waiting around until the meteor hits. We are toast and it’s all because of curtains. Some of you have met my wife. She is an amazing person. Robin has been the major part of my life for 15 years. Rob has been a greenhouse grower, a flower seed person, a dog trainer, a dot-com guru — more importantly she has been my confidant, business partner, mother to our six dogs, has an MBA and is an all-around good egg. A few minutes ago, she let me know […]
June 16, 2008
Stepping Up From Generic
These furniture dudes had a few ideas about how to buck the low-margin trend. Rather than just watch low-price imports from Asia mess up the market, they felt there is a large and profitable place in the U.S. furniture market for such wacky ideas as brands, value-added design, products that tell a story, etc., all the same blarney that us crazy plant marketing zealots keep spouting. I kept looking around to see if Marshall from PW or J. or Linda from Novalis were in the room. I cannot say the furniture guys are much ahead of us with their up-market programs. Brands such as Todd Oldham at Target and the National Geographic Home Collection are only a few years old. But it sounds like many retailers and consumers are very ready for a step up from generic product. Their retail price points are very different, but the upscale area rug […]
June 16, 2008
It’s Not The Product, Stupid
To anyone who has been in Texas during November, you may have had the fortune to visit Brenham, a cute, small city/big town sort of between Houston and Austin. And if you were really lucky, you had a chance to visit the amazing celebration held every fall at Ellison’s Greenhouses. The staff at Ellison’s turns themselves inside-out to open the greenhouse to consumers, who walk through a poinsettia production house–a literal sea of red. Ah, you say. What is so special about that? We all grow those %^&%#& poinsettias. (Sorry, Paul.) We hate them. Too much work, too little money, just summer/fall stress, poinsettias, humbug! And that, gentle reader, is the theme of this rant. All we see is product. It is what we produce. It is our widget. To us, it is no different than a row of corn or an assembly line at Ford. Let me share some […]
June 12, 2008
Donkeys & Elephants
What? Can’t hear you. Let me turn the radio down. Oh, you want me to write a column? Can’t – too busy listening to the radio, watching CNN, reading three or four newspapers a day. Can’t stop now to write. Okay, I will turn down the radio. Well, I would love to stop and visit with you, but you know that the most important marketing event of our generation is going on and I really can’t miss a minute of it. What marketing event? You jest! Surely you have heard about the race to be the next U.S. president? Which is typically pretty interesting if you are a student of marketing, but this year – the saints be praised – what a year! What, can you speak up? Sorry – my ears are numb from 24/7 radio and TV coverage. Did you know that on satellite radio, there is one […]
June 27, 2017
Steve Garvey is a Finalist for the 2017 Head Grower of …
Winner of the Excellence in Quality Award, Steve Garvey has become relentless in looking for the next new thing to improve quality in every aspect of production, from growing to shipping to marketing.
June 27, 2017
New Pilot Project for Offshore Unrooted Plant Cutting C…
Four breeders — Ball Horticultural Co., Dümmen Orange, Proven Winners, and Syngenta Flowers — will participate in the initial pilot, which will include greenhouse growing operations in six Latin American countries.
June 25, 2017
Consumers Revel in Gardening at Metrolina Greenhouses’ …
Metrolina wanted to promote plants, gardening, and creating a sense of community, so it decided to host Dig & Swig events at a local brewery.
June 24, 2017
Green Fuse Botanicals New Vice President is Focused on …
Jim Devereux, who will oversee production, sales, and marketing for Green Fuse, says he hopes to bring genetics to the market that break from traditional production methods for finished growers.
June 23, 2017
Greenbelt Microgreens is a Finalist for the 2017 Operat…
Winner of the Excellence in Innovation Award, Greenbelt Microgreens is constantly staying on top of the latest trends in technology,
June 22, 2017
Japanese Breeder Ushio Sakazaki Wins Medal of Excellenc…
From Supertunias to Superbells, this innovative Japanese breeder has used wild genetics to create game-changing plants that help consumers reconnect with the beauty of nature.
June 21, 2017
New Tool from Koppert Provides More Effective Thrips Ma…
A newly patented sachet for the predatory mite Amblyseius swirskii is resistant to both low and high levels of humidity, helping growers combat thrips infestations.
June 20, 2017
Dümmen Orange Enters Calla Market With Acquisition of G…
Golden State will continue to supply the market through September 2018, at which time Dümmen Orange will assume supply and delivery of much of Golden State’s product line.
June 20, 2017
Sign Up For The Luxflora Flower Run At Cultivate’17
The5k walk/run race, sponsored by Luxflora, is an opportunity for industry members to network, build relationships, have some healthy fun, and start off Cultivate’17 with a flourish.
June 19, 2017
IGC Show Features Talks on How to Cash in on the Buy Lo…
This year’s event, which takes place Aug. 15-17 in Chicago, also includes a free workshop on what you might do when starting your business over from scratch.
June 18, 2017
Protect Your Employees from Heat-Related Illnesses with…
The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration have released an updated app for smart phones that can help workers stay safe when working outdoors in hot weather.
June 17, 2017
Visser, Ball Partner on New Sticking Technology for Cut…
The new AutoStix system is designed to provide better consistency and uniformity with shipped cuttings, easier and more reliable counting, automatic transplanting, and optional buffering in the peak season.
June 16, 2017
Five Guidelines to Investing in Software for Your Green…
Any software improvement you make should make sense for your team and be worth the investment.
June 15, 2017
Greenhouse Grower’s 2017 Evening Of Excellence Will Rec…
Registration is now open for the 2017 Greenhouse Grower Evening Of Excellence, which takes place Monday, July 17, during Cultivate’17.
June 14, 2017
Plantpeddler Hosting Variety Day on Aug. 4 in Cresco, I…
The free event will allow attendees to tour Plantpeddler’s trial gardens, which include more than 1,200 varieties of vegetative annuals displayed in large containers, baskets, window boxes, and beds.
June 13, 2017
Are Your Geraniums Showing Signs of Iron or Manganese T…
Zonal geraniums with low pH can exhibit iron and manganese toxicity symptoms, including marginal chlorosis, leaf speckling, and upward-cupping of the leaves, according to Michigan State University experts.