Count Your Blessings

As we approach the end of the year that marks the 25th anniversary of the founding of Greenhouse Grower magazine, it is time to stop and reflect on what has happened in the last 25 years and to be thankful for all of those people who have made it possible.

I have a friend who sends cards for Thanksgiving rather than Christmas. She thanks those who have helped her during the past year and indicates how grateful she is to have them as friends. She considers each of her friends a blessing, and she makes it known to them how special they are. While I don’t send cards to everyone, I do count my friends as blessings. I spent this month thinking about all the people who have helped build Greenhouse Grower magazine. I believe that I have had 10 editors who have helped turn my scribbles into meaningful articles. I had an editor who spent six months helping develop my book, “One To Grow On.” Then, there are all those who make up the staff and management who have been supportive of my efforts to communicate with you. They certainly have been a blessing to me.

You might want to take a little time this month to stop for a while and count all the positive things you do and realize what your product means to our society and the world.

Adapting In Tough Times

In his September 2008 editorial, Fast Company magazine Editor Robert Safian wrote, “There may not ultimately be enough resources on the planet to meet everyone’s needs unless drastic actions and drastic innovations are embraced.” If you reflect on his sentiment, you can see the potential for our industry is tremendous. We have come through a hard year. Severe weather problems, uneasiness in energy prices, increases in the cost of goods and reluctance to increase prices have all had an adverse effect on the health of our industry.

Many businesses will soon grow products only in the spring and then close their operations down for the rest of the year.

As operations get bigger, growers try to produce year-round to reduce overhead costs. One grower told me that when he started growing year-round and produced poinsettias, his costs were $10,000 more than what he got when he sold the crop. He stopped producing the winter crop and used the $10,000 he saved to take his wife to Hawaii for a vacation.

When times get tough, there is usually an increase in innovation. If you can identify the problem and set your mind to finding a solution, a solution will be found. For example, when Thomas Edison invented the electric light bulb, people asked him how he did it. He replied that he had discovered 2,000 ways that it couldn’t be done before he found one way that it could. Edison certainly proved that if you don’t get it right the first time, try, try again.

Real Growth

There is no doubt there have been many positive changes in our production, marketing and business practices. We took the bedding plant industry from the smallest segment of floriculture to the largest part of the industry. In Michigan, floriculture went from a $10 million business to almost $400 million in the past 25 years. Nationally, the total floriculture industry is worth more than $4 billion.

However, the basics of our industry remain the same. You can count your blessings if you have these five basic factors down – whether you’re thinking 1983 or 2008.

1. Your employees are your most important assets. A business without good employees is like a desert without an oasis. The employees of the future will have to be well trained and possess skills that can maintain a state-of-the-art facility – knowledge about computers, plant physiology, pathology and entomology and cost benefit analysis will be essential. While manual labor will still be needed, automation will be increasingly used. Smaller greenhouses will still exist but will be primarily retail or niche market growers.

2. Knowledge of the business environment will be essential. There will be fewer businesses that grow plants unless the plants are sold before they are produced. Growing plants on speculation will be a risky business. Excellent internal business practices will be absolutely essential. Knowing all the financial information about the cost of production and, if changes are made, how they will affect the company’s financial picture will be vital.

3. Marketing knowledge will need to improve. It takes as much time and effort to sell our products as it does to produce them. If you have the right people who can differentiate fads from trends, if you can react quickly to changes in the market and if you can produce the right product at the right time, you will have a successful business.

4. Like all other businesses, our industry is not static. New technology will continue to provide new systems that will need to be implemented in order for our industry to remain competitive. It is important to seek new knowledge, analyze everything that becomes available and adapt what can be useful and profitable to your business.

5. You are the most important person. If you are the owner, the grower, the section foreperson, the daily worker, the greenhouse night watchperson; or if you are the sales manager, the salesperson, the store representative; or if you represent a seed company or a supply company or one of the hundreds of different jobs and services needed to make a greenhouse business successful, you are the most important person!

I’ve always considered myself to be someone who works with other people, not for them. Whomever I worked with, I felt like I was part of the business. If you have the attitude “if it weren’t for me, it wouldn’t be,” then you will be of great value and help to your company.

Live Life To Its Fullest

Remember life is short; eternity is forever. We all need to enjoy our short lives and realize what a blessing it is to be here. Robert Fulghum wrote a great book, titled “All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten.” One thing he learned was to live a balanced life – learn some and think some and work some every day. Fulghum also learned when you go out into the world, watch for traffic, hold hands and stick together. I hope you have a very happy Thanksgiving and that you know what a blessing you are to Greenhouse Grower magazine and to me.
I want to dedicate this article to three of my friends who have gone to eternal life this year: Jack McConkey, Todd Bachman and Larry Boven. What blessings they have been to me and to our industry!

Leave a Reply

More From Finance/Operations...
University of Florida Online Greenhouse Training Courses

April 25, 2016

University of Florida Offering Online Training Courses For Greenhouse Growers

There will be five courses offered, with the first starting on May 30. Courses are available in both English and Spanish and range from beginner level to advanced education.

Read More
Sanitation programs are essential to preventing and removing food safety concerns.

April 7, 2016

USDA Launches GroupGAP Program For Fruit And Vegetable Growers

The new certification program is designed to help small and mid-size growers, including greenhouse vegetable producers, comply with new food safety regulations.

Read More
Young Plants Farm North Carolina

March 15, 2016

Young’s Plant Farm Obtains MPS-A Qualification

MPS, an organization that develops and manages certification for companies in the horticulture industry, has awarded MPS-A certification to Young’s Plant Farm in North Carolina and Alabama.

Read More
Latest Stories
University of Florida Online Greenhouse Training Courses

April 25, 2016

University of Florida Offering Online Training Courses …

There will be five courses offered, with the first starting on May 30. Courses are available in both English and Spanish and range from beginner level to advanced education.

Read More
Sanitation programs are essential to preventing and removing food safety concerns.

April 7, 2016

USDA Launches GroupGAP Program For Fruit And Vegetable …

The new certification program is designed to help small and mid-size growers, including greenhouse vegetable producers, comply with new food safety regulations.

Read More
Young Plants Farm North Carolina

March 15, 2016

Young’s Plant Farm Obtains MPS-A Qualification

MPS, an organization that develops and manages certification for companies in the horticulture industry, has awarded MPS-A certification to Young’s Plant Farm in North Carolina and Alabama.

Read More
Charlie Hall Feature Image

March 14, 2016

Dr. Charlie Hall Will Offer Keynote Address At Farwest …

The Texas A&M economist will discuss factors affecting short- and long-term demand driving the future of the green industry.

Read More
Seed Your Future Logo

March 8, 2016

Longwood Gardens And American Society For Horticultural…

Under the direction of co-chairs Paul B. Redman of Longwood Gardens and Anna Ball of Ball Horticultural Company, the “Seed Your Future” initiative is designed to combat declining awareness of horticulture while promoting it as a viable career choice.

Read More
Florida Green Industry

March 4, 2016

University Of Florida Study Shows Green Industry Genera…

According to the study, the rise of large retail chain stores with garden departments has made plants and other horticultural products more readily available to consumers than ever before.

Read More
Great Lakes Growers Expansion

February 22, 2016

Great Lakes Growers Expands Its Production Capacity For…

The Burton, OH-based grower has added 25,000 square feet to its operation, helping it to keep up with rising consumer demand.

Read More
National Garden Bureau Logo feature image

February 16, 2016

New Officers And Directors At National Garden Bureau an…

During the ASTA Flower & Vegetable Seed Conference, National Garden Bureau and All-America Selections elected new officers and directors.

Read More
Katherine Wolper

January 24, 2016

Ludvig Svensson Hires Katherine Wolper As West Coast Sa…

Wolper says she looks forward to listening to growers and understanding the concerns, obstacles, and opportunities they face.

Read More

January 20, 2016

Tips For Overcoming Challenges In Family Business From …

Our industry is run by a collection of family businesses, and every one, no matter how big or small, has its share of management issues. But there are several differences between one that is run successfully as a business and one that allows family politics to distract from the organization’s goals. In this year’s State Of The Industry Survey, we noted that labor recruitment and succession are two areas where growers struggle. In talking with the owners of Costa Farms for this month’s cover story, I thought some of the values they have incorporated into the operation’s management structure really stood out as practices that other family businesses could use. The participatory management approach to business and team building is one that Tony Costa, the second-generation owner of Costa Farms, instilled in his children, Maria Costa-Smith and Jose Costa, and son-in-law, Joche Smith, the current owners of Costa Farms. In […]

Read More
I-9 Form

January 13, 2016

Proposed Changes To I-9 Form Important For Greenhouse G…

AmericanHort’s Government Relations and Grassroots Representative Davi Bowen says growers need to become familiar with the new form and should be prepared to make comments if necessary.

Read More

January 13, 2016

Wenke Greenhouses Buys Zylstra Greenhouses

Two Kalamazoo, MI-based greenhouses have merged after Wenke Greenhouses closed on Zylstra Greenhouses at the end of November. The additional property and facilities will allow Wenke Greenhouses to expand its young plant business, among other areas.

Read More

January 13, 2016

Costa Farms Wins With Its Emphasis On Team, Solutions, …

Based in Miami, FL, Costa Farms has gone global by focusing on strategy, systems, and vertical integration. See how the operation continues to expand through its emphasis on team, solutions, and growth.

Read More

January 11, 2016

New Transportation Funding Bill Is Good News For Floric…

According to AmericanHort, perhaps the biggest benefit of the new bill is what it doesn’t include: a proposed amendment that would have prohibited the use of federal funds for vegetative enhancements.

Read More

December 29, 2015

The Home Depot Says No To Neonics

The Home Depot plans to phase out neonicotinoids by 2018, according to a recent statement on the company’s website. The large home improvement retailer stated that its live goods suppliers have reduced the number of plants that they treat with neonicotinoids, and now more than 80% of all flowering plants sold at The Home Depot are not treated with neonicotinoids. The retailer said it will continue this decrease unless: Treatment is required by state or federal regulation, or Undisputed science proves that the use of neonicotinoids on live goods does not have a lethal or sub-lethal effect on pollinators Aside from these exceptions, the retailer has implemented a complete phase-out of neonicotinoid use on live goods by the end of 2018. Meanwhile, The Home Depot has required all of its live goods suppliers to label plants that have been treated with neonicotinoids. “The Home Depot is deeply engaged in understanding the […]

Read More
Gardeners of all ages enjoyed the annual plant sale at McCorkle Nurseries

December 22, 2015

Allan Armitage Explains Why People Will Always Want To …

We may believe that an appreciation for gardening and plants is rapidly draining away, but there is reason to hope.

Read More
Canadian Greenhouse Conference 2015

December 21, 2015

Presentations From Canadian Greenhouse Conference Avail…

Many of the talks that took place at this year’s Canadian Greenhouse Conference in Ontario focused on improving production efficiencies in the greenhouse.

Read More
Sanitation programs are essential to preventing and removing food safety concerns.

December 7, 2015

How The Finalized Produce Safety Rule Will Affect Green…

While the new rule from FDA has many exemptions that will likely apply to greenhouse growers, the reality is that buyers may still require strict adherence to food safety standards.

Read More
[gravityform id="35" title="false" description="false"]