January 23, 2010
Time To Refocus
Last month, I promised I would share a few ideas on how to avoid or repair the damage when the bottom drops out of your business. I am writing this as 2009 draws to a close. You are reading it in February, when you are in the midst of your spring season. All of us are wondering what the future of our industry will be. Unfortunately, none of us has a crystal ball so we can know for sure what will happen. In March 2000, I wrote: “To survive in this industry, you must find the stars, milk the cows, look carefully at the question marks, dump the dogs and keep squintin’.” That’s probably good advice today. (If you want to read the rest of what I had to say, get a copy of my book, “One To Grow On,” from Meister Media Worldwide and check out the column titled […]
December 28, 2009
Make It Happen Again
Every obstacle presents an opportunity. Our industry has taken advantage of opportunities before, and now we have to do it again. At Christmas, you could see big changes in approach occurring at the major retailers. The major Christmas toy sales started in mid-October, and the major toy stores and mega-chains started selling toys at year-end prices. Walmart had a Black Friday sale that lasted all day and all night. Brand name toys were selling at $10 apiece, with hundreds of different toys priced in this range. Kmart advertised layaway plans with little or no interest that attracted many early buyers and also helped them pay for purchases made in October over a three-month period. If you read any of the business magazines, you’ve realized the large retailers were going to get their product early and sell as much as they could at discount prices. Their goal was to make certain […]
November 13, 2009
Times Change Quickly
The entire United States financial system was on the verge of bankruptcy. If it had not been for the federal government’s intervention, the whole system would have collapsed. Some unscrupulous individuals stole hundreds of billions of dollars at the expense of all of the honest workers and citizens. In only days, the government printed the money to cover these criminal acts. The debt of our country almost doubled in one month. The recession got worse and unemployment hit new highs. As I write this, the unemployment rate is 10 percent nationally. In Michigan, it is 15.8 percent and in Detroit it is over 29 percent. In the September 2008 Produce Business magazine, Dave Dever indicated that, based on his most recent statistics of income for the 2006 tax year, approximately 55 percent of tax filers had adjusted gross income of less than $50,000 with an average discretionary income […]
October 19, 2009
Horticulture: A Reason For Thanksgiving
We all have heard the old saying, “You can’t see the forest for the trees.” Well, I think many of us can’t see our profession because we are only interested in one facet of this great industry. This notion was brought home to me a few months ago when I read a garden design magazine. It showed how to create a meditation garden, a pharmaceutical garden, a service garden and a beauty garden, as well as an art garden. There were many different plant species used that I had not seen before. I began to remember what I was taught at the university: There are so many plants on this earth that it would be impossible to learn all the genetics, physiology, pathology and uses of even a small percentage of them. For some of us, it has taken a lifetime to master all the information we need […]
September 16, 2009
Life Is A Challenge
Here we are in October, planning for the spring of 2010. If you’re like me, you read the business papers, check the stock market, find out how many people are unemployed and what our national debt is. You also look at interest rates and whether bank credit will be available in order to finance your 2010 plan. The government has initiated plans to stimulate the economy. These plans have involved everything from bailing out the financial institutions and banks to supporting the automobile industry by taking in “clunkers” and giving people $4,500 to help them buy new cars. The government is now focusing on universal health care and many other issues that will affect our businesses. I wish the government would give people a rebate for buying nourishing foods like fruits and vegetables to keep their families healthy and well. Most of these issues are beyond our control, and we […]
September 1, 2009
What Goes Around Comes Around
My wife’s mother often used the statement in the headline to indicate what you did in the past will come around to haunt you in the future. She was one of the kindest and most considerate people I have ever met. She worked hard, took care of her home, was a great cook and would never say a bad word about anyone. Some people were less than kind to her, but she would always say, “What goes around will come around.” I’ve thought about her and her saying, and in the last couple of months, I’ve come to the conclusion: “Here we go again.” In the last two to three weeks, I have read 20 to 30 business and management magazines, listened to television news and even checked the Internet to determine what the feeling is regarding our business position. Most now acknowledge we are in a recession. With 10 […]
July 20, 2009
Just Ask To Sell More
I met a new friend who works in the rubber industry as a sales manager. He is a great guy who is deeply involved in that industry, as well as with his church and the Michigan State University (MSU) community. His wife is also involved with MSU activities as a Master Gardener and volunteers as a docent in the 4-H Children’s Garden. They are both active in the music department and athletic department at MSU. They attend all hockey, football, men’s and women’s basketball games, and so on. They are really true Spartans! The couple also is active in the community and their neighborhood where my friend’s wife serves as treasurer of the homeowners’ association. I enjoy observing all the activities they are involved in and seeing how happy they are! An Outsider’s View Recently, I asked my friend to take a look at our industry. From the information I […]
June 18, 2009
Don’t Worry, Be Happy
Have you ever had the feeling you were sitting on a gold mine but no one wanted gold? Or that you had a $1 million home but no one could afford to buy it from you? Or that you owned a business but no one wanted to invest in it? Or that you stockpiled fuel at $4.00 a gallon and now it could be purchased for $2.50? If only we knew what was going to happen next year, our decisions would be simple, and we would always choose the right course of action. We must realize everything changes, and we must be prepared for change. Today, you can get a rate of 5-5.25 percent on a home mortgage. When I got my first home loan 40 years ago, the rate was 6.75 percent. However, there were times over the years when you couldn’t get a mortgage loan for less than […]
May 27, 2009
Be Prepared For Change
As I’ve told you before, I’m a Danish storyteller. Here is a story about my father: My father was born in Sweden in 1900. He moved with his family to Bornholm, Denmark in 1908 because his father was a stonemason, and there was a quarry on that island. In 1916, he immigrated to the United States and lived in Brooklyn, N.Y. with relatives. He worked on machines that made cigars. He became an engineer and took care of the machines in several production facilities. Things went well, and he was able to marry and have two children before the stock market crash hit in 1929. My parents had a third child in 1931, and then the family had to deal with the Great Depression. There were tough times, but he and my mother held our family together. I was born in 1941, just before the bombing of […]
April 24, 2009
Don’t Forget The People Who Made It Happen
My wife Barbara and I recently attended the funeral for my former secretary’s husband, Jim Allen. Sandy worked with me for more than 25 years. She was one of the most important assets I had during my time at Michigan State University (MSU). Barbara and Sandy managed the two businesses I had. They organized conferences for 2,000 people and followed through on the details of the many trips I took to speak all over the country and the world. It didn’t take me long to realize my most valuable asset was not money but the people I had who worked with me. During my tenure at MSU, I had 10 individuals who I held responsible for all the different areas I had to cover. The areas included teaching, research, Extension, the Horticultural Demonstration Gardens, all of the teaching and research greenhouses at MSU, Bedding Plants, Inc. (BPI), the Bedding Plant […]
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.