Bucking The Trend

Bucking The Trend

Moving was a major possibility, and Buckley got its best tip from a customer who suggested that the company consider a partnership with Waste Management in Taylorville, Ill. Ultimately, Buckley acted on that suggestion, and it now operates in a single facility that uses hot water produced as a byproduct from a neighboring methane-powered electricity generation plant to heat its own facility.

“We are the first greenhouse to take a byproduct of a methane gas energy plant and utilize it to heat,” says Doug Buckley, operations manager at Buckley. 

Unique Heat

The greenhouse heating process at Buckley actually starts at a landfill that creates methane gas, powers the generation plant and creates hot water as a byproduct. That hot water is then channeled to aerial pipes built along hanging basket lines and through floors of the greenhouse. So far, the system has padded the company’s pocketbooks considerably regarding money Buckley used to spend on natural gas. 

Founded: 1880s
Location: Taylorville, Illinois
Main Crops: Potted bedding plants, premium pot plants, chrysanthemums, poinsettias, unrooted cuttings and liners
Market: Select garden centers, florists, landscapers and interiorscape services
Web site: www.buckleygrowers.com

“They got the system up in February this year, and we’ve saved about 90 percent from last year,” says David Wagner, CFO at BGI. “We figured we would save somewhere around 85 percent.”

According to Al Zylstra, a TrueLeaf Technologies sales manager who designed and managed the BGI project along with Mike Muchow, other greenhouses have attempted to work with neighboring facilities in the past and buy methane gas directly from them to use in their generators or boilers.

But the problem he’s seen with that method of heating is that methane gas is dirty and high in sulfur or other impurities. The gas needs to be cleaned before it can be used appropriately, and that’s a fairly expensive process for any greenhouse operation to take on.

Buckley could have gone that route with Waste Management, Zylstra says. But using hot water as a byproduct for heating needs makes more sense financially for a four-acre greenhouse facility like Buckley Growers Illinois.

“Large corporations like Waste Management do things at what I call a municipal level,” Zylstra says. “That simply means that it deals with government dollars, which are a lot more than what a grower like Buckley Growers or almost anybody in the greenhouse industry has to spend. Their answer to everything might involve a $10,000 piece of equipment when a $1,000 piece of equipment might be able to do the same job just as well.”

To Zylstra, the biggest challenge he met on this job was integrating the needs of Buckley with the demands and needs of Waste Management. The technology integrated was nothing new to TrueLeaf, though.

At the neighboring Five Oaks Disposal Facility, which sits just a few hundred feet from Buckley, TrueLeaf identified the amount of heat energy produced by each of the four generators installed. TrueLeaf then designed a system to filter that heat energy to the greenhouse facility through valves, pipes and heat exchangers before radiators could cool it.

TrueLeaf supplied and installed all of that equipment at both facilities, and its design spans 163,296 square feet of greenhouse and 18,000 square feet of headhouse and office space.

“We put in-concrete floor heat in all of the offices, headhouse area and germination chambers,” Zylstra says. “Then, we put in-slab floor heat in approximately half of the houses. We put in-ground heat in the soil in the other half of the houses.” 

A Whole New World

The heating system isn’t the only new feature at Buckley, which focuses most of its production on young plants for growers, finished and seasonal plants for retail garden centers and landscapers, and holiday pot crops for garden centers, florists and interiorscapers. Buckley now has six Argus Controls computer-controlled environmental zones, 18 GTI automated watering booms and 36,288 square feet of blackout curtains, which span over 163,296 square feet.

The facility has open-roof and poly-arch glasshouses by Rough Brothers, a diesel-powered backup generator by Caterpillar and 5,300 linear feet of Tava Systems electric-powered conveyors.

Of all those added features, the conveyors excite Doug Buckley most. They should speed up production dramatically compared to Buckley’s previous facilities, where production was a rather in-depth process. It was too in-depth, Doug says, because the company had more than one facility sprawled across a half mile.

“We had a soil-filling machine area at one of our facilities,” Doug says. “We would fill the trays and pots. For the facility where the filling was not being done, we would have to palletize, shrink wrap, load onto a truck, haul down to the facility, unload off the truck, roll out into the greenhouse where the product would be laid out, take the shrink wrap off, hand carry all the products down, lay them out on benches and then have crews come back through and either set the cuttings or transplant products at the benches.”

That old way of doing things made managing Buckley employees difficult, as well. This new way is simpler. Buckley can generally group employees together on a transplant line, and it expects to reduce labor costs as a whole by at least 20 percent.

Watering booms have also reduced BGI’s labor costs. The company went from a staff of about 10 growers under about six roofs in Springfield to a staff of three under one roof in Taylorville.

“At the old facility, we were so inefficient that we were spending probably twice as much on labor as our competition,” Wagner says.

Fortunately for Buckley, the move to a new area has not affected its customer base, Doug says. The new greenhouse location is more rural, being about 30 miles southeast of Springfield, but Buckley is already feeling the effects of its added features–and it expects that trend to continue.

The new facility should also help Buckley’s brain trust practice sustainability through programs like EasyScape plastic reduction. Buckley was too disjointed in the old facility, Doug says, to sustain much recycling.

“We like the new facility a lot, and it’s completely different from what we’re used to,” he says. “We’re seeing ways to make our product better for our customers.”

Leave a Reply

More From Finance/Operations...
PP&L CAST 2015 intros

April 22, 2015

6 Breeding Companies Serve Up New Varieties At Pacific Plug & Liner

Pacific Plug & Liner’s theme this year, Labyrinth, a conservatory of the world’s most captivating plants, was perfectly topped off (pun intended) with fascinators for the women and newsboy caps for the men. The PP&L team dressed their part to act out the gothic “conservatory of the world’s most captivating plants.” Truly, the displays looked like they practically popped out of a catalog, and the costumes were a nice touch. Retailers take heed, the fully merchandised displays at Pacific Plug & Liner are worthy of emulating. We’ll let the pictures tell the story of all the fabulous variety introductions presented at  Pacific Plug & Liner’s 2015 California Spring Trials, where Cultivaris, Cohen Nurseries, Histil Nurseries, Jaldety Nurseries, Southern Living/Sunset Collection and Pacific Plug & Liner all highlighted their 2016 introductions.  

Read More
Speedling 2015 CAST intros

April 22, 2015

Speedling Inc. Presents New Varieties From ABZ Seeds, Hem Genetics, Thompson & Morgan, Vista Farms & PSI

You name it, we saw it at Speedling's California Spring Trials location in San Juan Bautista, where five companies showed off their new introductions for 2016.

Read More
PittMoss on Shark Tank

April 22, 2015

PittMoss Wins On Shark Tank

Mont Handley, president and CEO of PittMoss, appeared on ABC’s Shark Tank on April 17 to try to get the “sharks” to invest in his peat moss alternative. Three investors from the TV show contributed $600,000 to PittMoss for a 35 percent stake in the company. Check out this clip from ABC’s website in which Mark Cuban, Kevin O’Leary and Robert Herjavec discuss getting on board with the product. PittMoss is an alternative to sphagnum peat moss, made up of a mix of proprietary additives and recycled paper rescued from landfill space. Handley founded the Pittsburgh-based company in 1994. What started as a small experiment grew into a full-fledged business with the help of funding provided by an EPA SBIR grant and Pittsburgh’s Idea Foundry. Today, PittMoss is available to commercial greenhouses and nurseries from Michigan to Maine to North Carolina, with plans to grow. To learn more, visit PittMoss’ website, or check it […]

Read More
Latest Stories
PittMoss on Shark Tank

April 22, 2015

PittMoss Wins On Shark Tank

Mont Handley, president and CEO of PittMoss, appeared on ABC’s Shark Tank on April 17 to try to get the “sharks” to invest in his peat moss alternative. Three investors from the TV show contributed $600,000 to PittMoss for a 35 percent stake in the company. Check out this clip from ABC’s website in which Mark Cuban, Kevin O’Leary and Robert Herjavec discuss getting on board with the product. PittMoss is an alternative to sphagnum peat moss, made up of a mix of proprietary additives and recycled paper rescued from landfill space. Handley founded the Pittsburgh-based company in 1994. What started as a small experiment grew into a full-fledged business with the help of funding provided by an EPA SBIR grant and Pittsburgh’s Idea Foundry. Today, PittMoss is available to commercial greenhouses and nurseries from Michigan to Maine to North Carolina, with plans to grow. To learn more, visit PittMoss’ website, or check it […]

Read More
Syngenta logo

April 15, 2015

Syngenta Names Chris Freeman Senior Key Account Manager…

Chris Freeman is the new senior key account manager for Syngenta Flowers, Home & Garden's Commercial Sales business in the Americas, effective March 2015. Freeman, who joined Syngenta in 2006, carries more than 25 years of experience in the agriculture and floriculture business.

Read More
Lake Buchanan_LCRA

April 10, 2015

USDA Designates Areas Of West And Southwest As Drought …

The ongoing drought has resulted in disaster area designations in counties across nine Western and Southwestern states, including Texas, where some reservoirs are at or near historically low levels.

Read More

April 9, 2015

Altman Plants’ Online Cactus Shop Shows Strong Sa…

Altman Plants recently opened its new Cactus Shop, an online retail store that sells a variety of cactus and succulents. The store is a take-off of Altman’s original wholesale business, as the company started as a mail order catalog.

Read More
Dummen

April 8, 2015

Dümmen Group Welcomes Jim Devereux And Andrew Konicki T…

Dümmen group recently announced the addition of Jim Devereux and Andrew Konicki to its team. They are the newest members of the Key Account and Broker Support team for Dümmen, and will be responsible for building, developing and maintaining current broker and grower customer relationships.

Read More
Gov._Jerry_Brown_California

April 8, 2015

California Institutes First Ever Statewide Mandatory Wa…

California Gov. Jerry Brown announced April 1 that, for the first time in state history, action will be taken to implement mandatory water restrictions, with the ultimate goal of reducing water usage by 25 percent. As Californians are pushed to conserve more, growers will need to think about how demand for products will be affected.

Read More
DNA-logo

March 31, 2015

DNA Green Group Will Acquire Rijnplant

DNA Green Group and Riknplant have finalized DNA Green Group's acquisition of Rijnplant, meaning that the breeding and propagation activities in pot and cut anthurium, bougainvillea and heliconia will transfer to DNA Green Group.

Read More
AFE scholarship_Ryan Dickson

March 25, 2015

AFE Educational Grant And Scholarship Application Deadl…

Apply now for American Floral Endowment (AFE) scholarships or educational grants. Applications can be found online. For educational grants for 2015-2016, applications must be submitted no later than June 1. Scholarship applications are due May 1. AFE will award $40,000 in scholarships for 2015.

Read More

March 23, 2015

UF/IFAS Appoints Joseph Albano As Director Of Mid-Flori…

The University of Florida's Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (UF/IFAS) has a new directors for its Mid-Florida Research and Education Center (REC) on Apopka, Fla. The role has been filled by Joseph Albano, a research horticulturist from the U.S. Department of Agriculture with more than 25 years of experience.

Read More

March 17, 2015

Pike Nurseries Implements Employee Stock Ownership Plan

Independent garden retailer Pike Nurseries has announced it will become an employee-owned company. Pike Nurseries management has combined with its sister corporation in California, Armstrong Garden Centers, to operate under an established Employee Stock Ownership Plan (ESOP).

Read More
GrowIt! App Wins Gold At Design100 2014 US Mobile & App Design Awards

March 10, 2015

GrowIt! Mobile App Now Available For Android

The mobile app GrowIt! Garden Socially can now be used by gardeners with Android-based smartphones. Now available on the Google Play Market, GrowIt! helps users find plants to fit their lifestyle and connect them with other local gardeners.

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

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
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
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
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