July 11, 2013
New Rules Of The Road
As if we didn’t need more stress and strain, another challenge is headed our way that will further impact our day-to-day efficiency and profitability. The trucking market is in rapid decline and we will see even further rate increases over the next year or two. This time, the culprit is not a short-term spike in fuel prices, which often decline as quickly as they rise. Rather, the issue now is more structural in nature and will be with us for the long term. The good news is that when something is structural, we know it will be with us for awhile and we can plan for it. But the bad news is that it will be with us for a long time and that we need to plan for it. New Rules Now In EffectAs of July 1, new Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) rules went into effect. Within […]
October 24, 2012
Choosing Shipping And Distribution Software
It often surprises me to hear how many growers don’t use adequate software for shipping and distribution. Sometimes they don’t use any software for shipping and distribution — just spreadsheets, paper and a whiteboard. Why? For most growers, the cost of shipping and distribution is among the highest for line items. The return on investment of logistics software and automation, however, is one of the shortest you will find. In some cases, the investment is returned in a matter of days — or during your next shipment run.If I were to give you the following offer, would you take it? You give someone $1 on Monday, and by Friday, you will have reduced your costs by $2? Of course you would. In the same way you use automation for your greenhouse or shade house operations, like watering, heating, air flow control, potting, etc., you should also look at every area […]
August 2, 2012
The Great Truck Driver Shortage
You probably got into trucking by complete accident. You started growing or brokering plants and all of a sudden, you were in the trucking business too! How did that happen? Don’t worry, you are not alone; I ask myself the same question every day. As with all of the challenges we face each day, except for the drain on cash part, the actual physical trucks aren’t really the problem. No, the real problem is the drivers, or rather, the lack of good ones. There is good reason for this shortage — and it is getting worse. Demographics People are getting older. This seems obvious, but what I mean is that the general population is getting older, and a lot of the good old drivers of the past are retiring or close to retirement. Typically these empty seats would be filled by new drivers entering the market. The problem is, nobody […]
January 19, 2012
Overcoming Spring Freight Challenges
Here we are again, with spring upon us as well as the worst freight market in modern history. What do I mean by “worst in modern history?” In the trucking and logistics world that I live in, we are experiencing the toughest capacity crunch in more than 50 years. It is a perfect storm of driver demographics, government regulations, lack of financing and shippers willing to pay top dollar to move their freight. Let me explain. Driver DemographicsDrivers are leaving the workforce faster than ever before. Many trucking companies are paying sign-on bonuses of up to $10,000 for drivers to change companies rather than allowing the truck and trailer to sit idle. Unused vehicles cost the trucking company money. As a whole, our workforce is getting older, and the drivers aren’t necessarily the youngest (nor the fittest) bunch. Moreover, strict immigration laws and government regulations have virtually stopped foreign drivers […]
August 10, 2011
Is Dedicated Contract Carriage The Trucking Solution For You?
Dedicated Contract Carriage is one of the fastest growing segments of the trucking and distribution industry. Companies like Walmart, Target, Kroger and a host of name brand distributors use Dedicated Contract Carriage as a way to reduce costs, increase truck capacity and transfer liability and headaches. In fact, many major corporations that need a truck fleet are moving away from ownership (including leasing) and toward Dedicated Contract Carriage for some or all of their trucking operations. Generally, you have four options when moving your material to your customer locations. The first three of these options are relatively common–and 99 percent of growers fall into one of these three categories. First, you can buy your own trucks (and I include leasing or renting trucks in this category). Second, you can outsource the entire job to a third party (a third party logistics provider, 3PL or a broker). Third, you can try […]
June 24, 2011
Higham: One Transportation Solution
Dedicated Contract Carriage is one of the fastest growing segments of the trucking and distribution industry. Companies like Walmart, Target, Kroger and a host of name brand distributors use Dedicated Contract Carriage as a way to reduce costs, increase truck capacity and transfer liability and headaches. In fact, many major corporations that need a truck fleet are moving away from ownership (including leasing) and toward Dedicated Contract Carriage for some or all of their trucking operations. Generally, you have four options when moving your material to your customer locations. The first three of these options are relatively common–and 99 percent of growers fall into one of these three categories. First, you can buy your own trucks (and I include leasing or renting trucks in this category). Second, you can outsource the entire job to a third party (a third party logistics provider, 3PL or a broker). Third, you can try to […]
April 20, 2011
Higham: Freight Rates Soaring, Capacity Tightening
A perfect storm of issues are affecting available truck capacity, causing freight rates to soar and growers to scramble for capacity. Interstate Transport’s Tim Higham explores the challenges many growers are facing. For those growers reaching into the common carrier pool this year, in order to move material to customers they are finding trucks impossible to find–at any price in some regions. A perfect storm of issues are just beginning to show their effect on available truck capacity, causing freight rates to soar and growers to scramble for capacity. This week, I have been inundated with calls from growers nationwide looking for help. One grower, who did not want to be named, stated: “I have loads sitting on the dock for days while we look for trucks. I am at the point where I will pay anything to service the customer or I will lose them. The problem is that […]
March 17, 2011
Minimizing Freight Claim Headaches
As a grower, you know it can take months or even years to produce a finished product. You put tireless hours, hard-earned money and personal pride into growing products that please your clients. And how unpleasant it is when you get that phone call from one of them reporting a claim on those products. You want nothing more than to make sure your client is happy, yet you know you must minimize your out-of-pocket costs, especially when it comes to claims. The question is then: How do you mitigate most of these claims up front and handle them professionally when they do occur? The answer is to have a claims process in place before you ever load your product on a truck. The two basic components of that process are communication and documentation. If you use your own drivers and local delivery trucks, you have much more control over the […]
September 28, 2010
If you think your distribution costs are high now, just wait until new government regulations become effective later this year! What? You didn’t hear? I love the free market. I love it when barriers to enter a market are low, and the most cost-savvy companies offer the most competitive rates. Competition in the marketplace goes a long way toward keeping the prices of goods and services contained. When the free enterprise system is allowed to operate with minimal interference, consumers benefit. Unfortunately, government regulations will soon be imposed that may constrain the free market that most of us hold dear. The regulations may eliminate much of the competition that keeps trucking healthy. The issue at hand is the government’s desire to place new standards on truck drivers and trucking companies. While safety is important to all of us in the industry, the regulations may have some unintended economic effects on […]
November 30, 2009
Cutting Transportation Costs To The Bone
As I have written here many times over the years, transportation and distribution are among your greatest costs. Any cost decrease has an immediate effect on your bottom line, so cutting costs is a compelling proposition that translates to more money – right away! I have heard from many growers over the years who have followed the advice in my columns, and they have had great success. What I don’t understand is why more growers don’t implement these cost-cutting measures. If growers would merely simplify the fundamental elements of their businesses, they would not only stop wasting money but could focus their time on growing. So, here is your chance to cut your transportation costs to the bone. These four things will immediately slice at least 20 percent off your entire distribution costs. Bid Your Freight Today The available truck capacity in the market is greater than ever. Freight volumes […]
February 22, 2017
Emerging Industry Leaders Earn Business Management Cert…
Dr. Charlie Hall, Ellison Chair for International Floriculture at Texas A&M University, recently announced the graduation of the fourth cohort of the elite Executive Academy for Growth & Leadership (EAGL) program for nursery and greenhouse growers.
February 21, 2017
Learn How Drones Could Eventually Replace Bees in Polli…
Researchers in Japan are using the principle of cross-pollination in bees to make a drone that could potentially transport pollen between flowers.
February 21, 2017
Ian Baldwin: 2017 is Off to a Strong Start For Plant Re…
Many garden retailers are telling garden retail consultant Ian Baldwin that sales and the consumer’s attitude toward spending have been very strong the last two months.
February 20, 2017
5 New Varieties Shaking Up the Poinsettia Tradition
With poinsettias trending toward non-traditional colors, growers may find new opportunities to spread sales beyond the winter holidays. Here are five of the newest euphorbia varieties to hit the market that may play a role in redefining the future of the poinsettia market.
February 17, 2017
How to Keep Customers Coming Back With Top-Notch Servic…
A recent article on Forbes.com outlines seven ways organizations can take their customer service from good to great and beyond.
February 17, 2017
Proven Winners Makes Improvements to Its Retailer Certi…
Understanding the challenges of training new and seasonal staff at independent garden centers, Proven Winners says it is working to equip managers with tools to prepare their employees to better handle customers’ questions and boost their confidence in selling plants this season.
February 17, 2017
Industry Veteran Tom Foley Discusses His New Role as Vi…
Foley, a greenhouse industry veteran who was most recently with EuroAmerican Propagators, will be responsible for North American sales of WaterPulse’s patent-pending capillary mats and associated irrigation systems to nurseries and growers.
February 17, 2017
Dan and Jerry’s Greenhouse Buys Iowa-Based DeJong Green…
The acquisition will allow Dan and Jerry’s, a bedding plant grower headquartered in Minnesota, to extend its seasonal product offerings and service a new customer base with local distribution.
February 16, 2017
Pleasant View Launches Updated Website for its Savor Ed…
The site is designed to offer a friendly and informative vehicle that delivers product information in an easy-to-navigate format.
February 15, 2017
Syngenta Introduces Two New Flower Series for 2017
‘Sunfinity’ Sunflower produces multiple branches with numerous flowers that bloom all season long, while ‘Obsession Cascade’ Verbena quickly fills containers with vibrant flower patterns.
February 15, 2017
New Greenhouse Cooling System in Development for Hot-Cl…
Researchers at McGill University in Quebec have developed an alternative evaporative cooling solution for greenhouses in warm climates, and are now seeking commercial partners.
February 14, 2017
Suppliers Comment on Plant Genetics’ Fate After EuroAme…
Since the operation’s bankruptcy filing on January 23, 2017, suppliers associated with EuroAmerican Propagators have updated Greenhouse Grower on what the operation’s bankruptcy means for them – and how it will impact grower customers.