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 […]
May 22, 2018
Little Leaf Farms Expands Its Indoor Baby Greens Produc…
The Massachusetts-based company has increased the size of its greenhouses to 5 acres, more than doubling its annual production of baby greens.
May 22, 2018
Register Now for Award-Winning Online Greenhouse Growin…
Learn about production cost and profit, as well as the basic behind plant science, via two online classes being offered by the University of Florida.
May 21, 2018
Insights From Lawmaker’s Visit to a Top 100 Greenhouse …
When Rep. Julia Brownley of California visited Sun Valley Group, she got a firsthand look at a very busy time in the life of a flower grower.
May 20, 2018
Smithers-Oasis Now Offering Rootcubes Foam Media in Ret…
Designed with smaller or hobby growers in mind, the Rootcubes packs are also ideal for larger growers to use for trials.
May 19, 2018
Westerlay Orchids Shows Its Support for Local Schools
Proceeds from all sales the company made during the Carpinteria Greenhouse and Nursery Tour will be donated to fund STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Math) programs.
May 17, 2018
Ian Baldwin: Why the Rise of the Under 35s Will Help Yo…
In his latest blog, garden retail consultant Ian Baldwin says this new generation of plant buyers is seriously engaged in gardening, and is using social media to help become successful plant owners.
May 16, 2018
2018 Perennial Plant Symposium Offering Power to the Pe…
Perennial and gardening enthusiasts of all experience levels are invited to attend plant discussions on Monday, July 30 for a chance to hear from the best in the field on a range of topics.
May 15, 2018
Floriculture’s Future Hangs in the Balance Between Labo…
The nation’s largest growers are investing heavily in technology, new structures, human resources, and efficiency measures to stay competitive and profitable, despite significant labor shortages.
May 15, 2018
Gotham Greens Expanding Greenhouse Production Into Balt…
Scheduled to open in early 2019, Gotham Greens’ Baltimore facility will bring a reliable, year-round, local supply of fresh produce to serve retail, restaurant, and foodservice customers throughout the mid-Atlantic region.
May 14, 2018
Growing Innovations Geared to Connect Specialty Ag With…
Innovation abounds in agriculture, yet it can feel sometimes as if the gap between exciting new developments and what growers actually need in their operations can be awfully wide. We at Meister Media Worldwide intend to help narrow this gap. Which is why we’re pleased to introduce Growing Innovations – an altogether new type of event that will debut Nov. 7-8 at the Las Vegas Convention Center in Las Vegas, NV. Unlike most agricultural events and trade shows, Growing Innovations is not about technology per se, nor is it about everyday issues that growers face. Instead, this new conference and tradeshow is very acutely solutions oriented. It takes as its starting point specialty crop growers’ most pressing real-world challenges – production efficiency, labor and water shortages, logistics, and data management to name just a few – and showcases advances, both current and up-and-coming, that have the greatest potential to bring […]
May 12, 2018
Fungicide Resistance in Botrytis is an International Ch…
Clemson University’s research team is exploring Botrytis in cut roses to find out how to help you maintain postharvest crop quality by avoiding fungicide resistance.
May 11, 2018
New Sterile Ornamental Grasses One Solution to Grass In…
Aggressive grass species can turn gardeners off to using ornamental grasses. Less fertile alternatives offer options for keeping grasses from taking over the garden.
May 10, 2018
Beekenkamp Plants Acquires Sunny Osteospermum Breeding …
Beekenkamp took over all Sunny Holland sales activities in 2017, and now has ownership of the company’s entire breeding program.
May 9, 2018
How Greenhouse Sanitation Helps You Start Clean and Sta…
If you keep your greenhouse clean from the start, you’ll save yourself money in the end.
May 8, 2018
Greenhouse Production Costs Keep Going Up, So Why Are P…
There is a general sentiment within the industry that pricing needs to be reevaluated to better account for the trend toward rising input costs.
May 7, 2018
Lighting Innovator Fluence Bioengineering Acquired by O…
Fluence specializes in LED-based horticultural systems, using Osram LED chips, for a wide variety of applications, including vertical farming and greenhouses.
May 7, 2018
2018 Greenhouse Grower Top 100 Growers: The Complete Li…
Strong growth among the nation's largest growers shows no signs of slowing down, as nearly a third of the Top 100 growers have significantly expanded production, and many have ongoing projects underway.