Building Success At Tagawa Greenhouses

wp tagawa
From left to right, Carlos Castillo, production manager; Erik Edwards and Dominic Vercelote, both ranger growers; Kara Crist, research and development manager; Randy Tagawa, CEO; Ryan Jaebker; Mallory Westlund and Stuart Shoemaker, all range growers.

In an effort to stay ahead of the curve, Tagawa Greenhouses is trying a new approach to how it runs its operation, starting with the production staff.

CEO Randy Tagawa says that throughout the greenhouse industry, customer expectations have increased, and the company wants to be accurate and provide customers with a quality product.

“On the young plant side, there’s definitely an expectation to have quality products delivered on time, and with the complexity of the number of varieties and product lines that we have, it’s definitely been challenging to provide and meet our customer’s expectations,” Tagawa says. “From a company standpoint, we’ve been trying to reinvent Tagawa’s. Just like any company and any product, you have to reinvent yourself to be relevant going into the future.”

Making Changes To Keep Tagawa Current

Tagawa Greenhouses is a family owned company that has been in business for 47 years. The company produces young plants and liners sold exclusively to Ball Horticulture, as well as finished products for the mass market.

The company has locations in Brighton and Golden, Colo., and New Mexico, and each facility has around 16 to 20 acres of production greenhouses. Tagawa also has a partner company in California called Ball Tagawa Growers that produces all young plants that are sold to Ball.

To help meet customer expectation levels, the company has made an effort to build a great production staff. In the process of adding to the staff, many young individuals in their 20s and 30s were hired to fill those production spots.

Tagawa has found that younger individuals come to the table not only with an education, but with a lot of energy and a positive attitude. With more employees coming to the company with fewer years of experience, Tagawa says he is personally spending more time in production trying to educate growers.

“For the past six months, I’ve been directly working with all of our new production staff to help train them in making good production decisions,” he says. “I am very impressed with all of them and how fast they pick up on things.”

Building A Strong Team

Randy Tagawa
Randy Tagawa, CEO of Tagawa Greenhouses.

Hiring young people is one philosophy that is working for Tagawa Greenhouses. The production staff has improved in meeting its goals, and Tagawa says there is a lot more communication among staff members, and that the group is energetic, social and skilled at working as a team.

“I’ve seen a huge improvement over the past season and we will be very successful in meeting our customers’ expectations into the future,” Tagawa says.

There have been three new positions added to the production staff, for a total of 20 key production staff members. Eight of them are under 30 years old, which includes two of the three production managers.

“All of these young people were some of the best graduates in the industry,” Tagawa says.

Along with those employees, there are many others under 30 who are playing key roles in the company, as well as many individuals over age 65 who offer the needed experience to make the company successful.

Blending experienced staff with talent from the younger generation has yielded positive results.

“This combination has started to come together and see success. I would say that this team is becoming the best in the industry,” Tagawa says.

“We hire just the best individuals. We’re not just concentrating our efforts on young people — it just happened on the production side that there was an opportunity to hire a lot of young people, so maybe we fell into it. It wasn’t a conscious effort; however, we do see the advantages in production.”

One of the biggest challenges of hiring young employees is providing them with enough experience — not just in production techniques — but also in communications and working with people. Tagawa says that when hiring individuals who are just out of college, you must be willing to give them more responsibilities, despite their lack of experience.

On the other hand, Tagawa’s younger staff members are eager to learn and have a desire to do a good job.

“We have a couple of people under 30 in production manager roles, and we see them as up-and-coming individuals who can go really far within our industry,” he says.

Preparing New Growers For The Job

Company co-founder and now adviser Ken Tagawa always believed in training and having a great internship program for graduates who wanted experience, says Tagawa.

“I think that there are a lot of young people coming out of school who really don’t know what they want to do,” says Tagawa. “And as we look at it, we’re willing to do a lot of the training in order for them to be successful. It’s hard to try to find good people in any place. It doesn’t matter what age. Finding the talent to do production is difficult in itself, but as individuals are coming out of college, that’s an opportunity we’re tapping into.”

Whether a new employee is right out of school or not, Tagawa recommends putting them through a mini-internship program. New employees at Tagawa Greenhouses spend a few weeks learning about each of the company’s departments before they actually start working.

“It’s definitely advantageous to let people see your entire business, versus just putting them into their position and that’s all they do,” says Tagawa. “They should know something about your organization as far as marketing, merchandising, etc.”

That has been the company’s approach for its internship program, which has been in place for about eight years. Interns spend a semester working at Tagawa, during which they are exposed to all aspects of the organization.

“We go from one end of the business to the next. They spend some time in each to get a good understanding of what we’re doing,” Tagawa says.

Interns spend about a month and a half in production learning about decision making, watering, growing, spraying and all of the functions relative to growing. Then, they spend one to two weeks in each of the other departments in order to get a well-rounded view of what the company does. Interns are exposed to everything from maintenance to merchandising to finance to marketing.

One of the benefits of having the internship program is that it serves as a source for future employees. Some interns come from out of the country, or already have plans to work for their family’s businesses, but some are looking for jobs.

“That gives us an opportunity to look at them, and for them to look at us,” says Tagawa. “We might offer them a position if it works out for both parties.”

Topics:

Leave a Reply

More From Business Management...

March 4, 2015

Nexus Corporation’s Cheryl Longtin Encourages Women To Seek Volunteer Leadership Opportunities

When Cheryl Longtin came to the horticulture business in 1994, she applied her experience in the automotive industry to promote the adoption of more technology in greenhouse production. Longtin says horticulture, with its rich family tradition, has long promoted women in the industry compared to other industries, but women in horticulture must continue to seek out opportunities to provide volunteer leadership in organizations that shape the future of the business.

Read More

March 4, 2015

Second Annual GreenhouseConnect Will Bring Growers and Suppliers Together in San Diego This October

Following a successful inaugural event in Tampa last fall, Greenhouse Grower has announced the dates of its second annual GreenhouseConnect: October 26-29, 2015. Representatives of an expected two dozen leading greenhouse operations from across the U.S. will join senior-level suppliers at Rancho Bernardo Inn in San Diego for several days of one-on-one strategic meetings, a growers-only roundtable, informational sessions and a variety of networking events.

Read More
cultivate'15 logo

March 4, 2015

Cultivate’15: AmericanHort Announces What’s New

In an industry that has seen major changes occurring at a fast pace, many industry professionals leave Cultivate with their heads spinning and no clear idea of how to regroup and strategize. Cultivate’15 is “Changing the Game.” As this year’s focus, Changing the Game will call your attention to the ways in which our industry has changed and your opportunities to compete successfully.

Read More
Latest Stories

March 4, 2015

Nexus Corporation’s Cheryl Longtin Encourages Wom…

When Cheryl Longtin came to the horticulture business in 1994, she applied her experience in the automotive industry to promote the adoption of more technology in greenhouse production. Longtin says horticulture, with its rich family tradition, has long promoted women in the industry compared to other industries, but women in horticulture must continue to seek out opportunities to provide volunteer leadership in organizations that shape the future of the business.

Read More

March 4, 2015

Second Annual GreenhouseConnect Will Bring Growers and …

Following a successful inaugural event in Tampa last fall, Greenhouse Grower has announced the dates of its second annual GreenhouseConnect: October 26-29, 2015. Representatives of an expected two dozen leading greenhouse operations from across the U.S. will join senior-level suppliers at Rancho Bernardo Inn in San Diego for several days of one-on-one strategic meetings, a growers-only roundtable, informational sessions and a variety of networking events.

Read More
cultivate'15 logo

March 4, 2015

Cultivate’15: AmericanHort Announces What’s…

In an industry that has seen major changes occurring at a fast pace, many industry professionals leave Cultivate with their heads spinning and no clear idea of how to regroup and strategize. Cultivate’15 is “Changing the Game.” As this year’s focus, Changing the Game will call your attention to the ways in which our industry has changed and your opportunities to compete successfully.

Read More

March 4, 2015

Maryland Green Industry Associations Unite

The Maryland Nursery and Landscape Association recently announced that it is expanding its reach to include the greenhouse industry, meaning it has become The Maryland Nursery, Landscape and Greenhouse Association (MNLGA). The change comes as a result of the planned dissolution of the former Maryland Greenhouse Growers Association and the invitation for those members to join the existing and renamed association.

Read More
american-hort-logo

March 4, 2015

H-2B Cap Hit, Adding to Visa Program Woes

The H-2B visa cap for the first half of fiscal 2015 was hit late in January. As a result, some growers may not have access to the H-2B workers they need during the months ahead. The visa cap and resulting labor shortages will have impacts throughout the horticulture industry.

Read More

March 2, 2015

Avoid Surprises On The Delivery Dock

A call in advance about problems with a plant shipment to a retailer you supply goes a long way toward customer satisfaction.

Read More
Smart Herb Garden

March 2, 2015

Smartpot Uses Sensors And Cartridges To Ensure Success …

Click & Grow helps make it simple for consumers to grow their own herbs and spices at home, even if they have little experience with plants.

Read More

March 2, 2015

Student Flash Mob At TPIE Has Roots In Floriculture

The local FFA students who entertained TPIE attendees in 2014 and 2015 received industry donations of plants and a greenhouse structure to help expand their horticultural program.

Read More
IPPS Sharing Plant Production Knowledge Globally Logo

February 25, 2015

International Plant Propagators Western Region Sets Ann…

The annual meet for the International Plant Propagators' Society (IPPS) Western Region has been set for this September. It will take place September 23 to 26 in Modesto, Calif., and will include learning sessions, tours to local nurseries, a research poster display and poster presentations, various networking opportunities and an awards banquet to close the event.

Read More
myers industries Lawn and Garden Logo

February 24, 2015

Myers Industries, Inc. Lawn And Garden Business Sold, N…

The management of Myers Lawn and Garden Group, along with Wingate Partners V, L.P. have recently acquired the Myers Industries, Inc. Lawn and Garden business. The new company is named The HC Companies, and will continue as a North American leading provider of horticulture containers supplying the greenhouse, nursery and retail markets.

Read More

February 18, 2015

Range Of Nursery Inspections To Protect Patented Plants…

Plant patents are under protection, and breeders are fighting for their rights to keep growers from illegally propagating protected varieties. It's something you don't want to take a chance on, because the risk is far higher than the reward. More than 300 inspections were carried out last year from New York to British Columbia and from Ontario to Florida to protect plant patents, Plant Breeders’ Rights (PBR) and branded programs.

Read More
american-hort-logo

February 17, 2015

AmericanHort Announces New Board Members

AmericanHort recently announced the election of new officers and members to the board of directors. Each will assume their positions on the board during Cultivate’15, July 11 to 14 in Columbus, Ohio.

Read More
All American Selections

February 17, 2015

All-America Selections Elects New Officers, Names New J…

While meeting during the Flower and Vegetable Seed Conference in Tampa, Fla., hosted by the American Seed Trade Association, All-America Selections elected new officers for a two-year term. Read on to learn about the new officers, as well as all of the new judges that were added in 2014.

Read More

February 11, 2015

Benchmarks: Find Your Game-Changer

Refuse to accept the status quo in your organization. Explore possibilities until you find what works best for your company.

Read More
Greenhouse Grower.com on your desktop, on your phone, on your tablet

February 11, 2015

GreenhouseGrower.com Relaunches With Responsive Design …

Greenhouse Grower magazine, the nation’s leader in profits, production and education for greenhouse growers, announces the launch of its completely redesigned website, GreenhouseGrower.com. The new design is the product of direct user feedback and GreenhouseGrower.com analytics, and includes responsive design for ease of mobile use.

Read More

February 4, 2015

TPIE 2015: An Electrified Industry Vibe Boosts Cool New…

The general feeling at the Florida Nursery Growers and Landscape Association's 2015 Tropical Industry Exhibition (TPIE) was upbeat and positive. Attendees were inspired by exciting new products and varieties, as well as creative new displays and innovative ideas and left energized for the season ahead.

Read More
Noble Foundation

February 3, 2015

Lloyd Noble Scholars Program Application Period Now Ope…

The Samuel Roberts Noble Foundation is offering college students an opportunity to work side-by-side with the Noble Foundation’s renowned agricultural consultants and researchers through the Lloyd Noble Scholars in Agriculture program, a summer internship that provides students the opportunity to enhance their in-class education with real-world application and experiences.

Read More
Andy Higgins

February 3, 2015

MasterTag Names Andy Higgins As Its New President

Former CEO and president of Ecke Ranch, Andy Higgins, joins MasterTag as its new president. He brings more than two decades of industry experience to the position.

Read More