Dishin’ On Distribution

Nearly two years ago, leading horticultural distributors BFG Supply Co., BWI Companies and Griffin Greenhouse and Nursery Supplies formed an independent organization called the Integrated Horticultural Alliance (IHA). The organization was formed to remove redundancies and inefficiencies that drive up input costs.
We recently caught up with Joe Farinacci, managing director of the Integrated Horticultural Alliance, who provided an update on IHA’s progress and how the organization is providing more value in the supply chain to growers.

Q: How has IHA improved the efficiency of the supply chain since its inception early last year?

A: Since coming to IHA, I have read and heard many comments regarding the lack of standardization within the horticultural industry. We all know, especially the grower, you need to develop standard procedures to be successful.

Last year was a volatile year in terms of prices for horticultural products, specifically for plastics and products that contained polymers. The dramatic increase in the cost of oil resulted in price increases almost weekly. Due to the breadth of SKUs IHA member distributors sell, the cost and time involved in updating their pricing was a tremendous burden.

IHA has developed a process where price and product updates from our key and strategic partners can be “uploaded” into IHA member distributors’ business software almost instantly. This not only saves time and money but allows personnel to focus on serving the customer rather than spending time on data entry.
The sharing of best practices is an inherent facet in reducing cost within the supply chain. While the IHA member distributors are alike in many ways, they each excel in specific areas. BFG has developed technology for managing purchase orders that provides transparency through real-time communication between the manufacturer, distributor and the customer. Griffin Greenhouse has created GGS Pro, which provides unmatched grower education. And BWI has taken logistics and supply-chain management to a new level with its robust warehouse management, bar coding and “scan-in/scan-out” initiative. We can standardize practices by sharing these examples with each other.

Q: We understand IHA hosted the Strategic Partner Summit and non-competing manufacturers were invited for a roundtable discussion. Can you tell us about the summit?

A: Our July 2009 summit was unique in that it was the first time we asked seven non-competing manufacturers to join IHA members. The open dialogue focused on the 2009 season, industry changes and trends, and what is being done to prepare for 2010.

A key discussion point was how IHA member distributors and the manufacturers can improve the way they communicate – specifically regarding on-hand inventory in IHA member warehouses and product sales history.
As a result of the discussion, IHA has created a sales history trend report. This is a standard format to communicate on-hand inventory and sales history to the seven manufacturers on a monthly basis. Together, the IHA members and the manufacturers can use this information to forecast future needs.

Before the summit, IHA completed a round of surveys of our key and strategic partners. These surveys were designed to evaluate the process of doing business between IHA member distributors and our key and strategic partners. We chose three departments in the distributors’ operations: accounts payable, purchasing and sales, as well as the three departments they work with at our partners. Each of these departments was sent a survey to complete. The goal of the surveys was to identify the areas that are causing issues or problems. Once identified, many of the issues or problems have been easy to resolve, some as simple as just asking to e-mail invoices rather than fax them.

While the above are not examples of IHA working directly with growers, the grower will ultimately benefit. Improving the way we process price and product change will provide the grower with up-to-date cost, product information and improved service. Sharing our best practices will create a standard format so the grower receives consistent updates on orders, valuable education and product when they need it most. Finally, by working closely with our manufacturers and providing inventory and sales data, we can fill the pipeline to prevent out of stocks and delayed shipments.

Q: IHA recently surveyed growers about their distribution wants and needs. What did the survey reveal?

A: One question the survey covered was: What do you look for in a horticultural distributor? Here are the results:

1. 89.64 percent of growers surveyed placed a “high value” on the accuracy of a shipment/delivery.

2. 87.65 percent of growers surveyed placed a “high value” on the timeliness of a shipment/delivery.

3. 83.27 percent of growers surveyed placed a “high value” on the availability of product.

4. 93.62 percent and 96.81 percent of growers surveyed respectively placed a “high value” or “moderate value” on product training and technical support.

The results of this survey tell IHA where we need to focus our efforts.

Q: IHA is no longer a part of the North American Horticultural Supply Association (NAHSA). Can you tell us about the decision to back out of NAHSA and if there are philosophical differences in approach?

A: In business today, everyone is aware extra time is a limited resource. Rather than split time between two organizations, IHA member distributors decided the manufacturers and growers would be better served by focusing on IHA.

Q: Is there anything else newsworthy going on with IHA?

A: IHA kicked off its education initiative before the 2009 MANTS show. The education initiative is an in-depth training program for the horticultural specialist and horticultural manager. Its mission is to strengthen the horticultural specialists’ and horticulture managers’ overall knowledge of the industry. Currently, 15 key personnel from each IHA member distributor are participating in the two-year program. When participants complete the program, they will be trained to work with growers in a variety of areas.

Leave a Reply

More From Finance/Operations...
Katherine Wolper

January 24, 2016

Ludvig Svensson Hires Katherine Wolper As West Coast Sales Manager

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 The Owners Of Costa Farms

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 Growers

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
Latest Stories
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
Smith Gardens Marysville outdoor field production

November 30, 2015

Why Smith Gardens’ Marysville, WA, Facility Is A Great …

Labor rates in Washington State are some of the highest in the nation, making competition for labor fierce. This is why Smith Gardens in Marysville, WA, wants to strengthen its reputation as a great place to work.

Read More
Great Lakes Expo

November 30, 2015

6 Reasons You Should Attend The Michigan Greenhouse Gro…

The Michigan Greenhouse Growers Expo, held Dec. 8-10 in conjunction with the Great Lakes Fruit, Vegetable and Farm Market Expo, will feature an expansive trade show and several educational sessions aimed at greenhouse growers.

Read More

November 25, 2015

Everything You Need To Know About the New England GROWS…

Held In Boston December 2-4, New England GROWS includes a comprehensive conference program, a trade show, and with six special programs that teach new skills and provide opportunities to network with colleagues.

Read More

November 20, 2015

Lessons Learned From The California Drought

For those of us who live in the areas of the country that experienced harsh winters and significant rain over the past three seasons, water has become a nuisance in some cases, rather than a blessing. I can’t count the number of times I have wished to be able to send the snow or the rain to the West Coast, tied up with a big red bow. But think about how we’d feel if we didn’t have the snow and the rain, and we were experiencing the same dry conditions that the residents of California, Oregon and Washington have. With fresh water supplies dwindling in regions of the world, and the resistance of residents in states like Michigan to share water from the Great Lakes, it’s likely that the next civil or world war could be fought over our most precious resource. California’s epic drought should cause everyone to look […]

Read More
Jill Calabro

November 3, 2015

AmericanHort Names New Research And Science Programs Di…

Jill Calabro will bring strategic direction and oversight to research funding by the Horticultural Research Institute, the research affiliate of AmericanHort.

Read More
SBI’s ANY Device Application allows growers to quickly determine availability-featuer

November 2, 2015

SBI Software’s Solutions Help Simplify Logistics For G…

The company focuses on helping growers improve their existing processes with solutions for site fulfillment, replenishment, inventory management and more.

Read More
Griffin Expo15 seminar

October 28, 2015

Griffin’s Hits Record Attendance With 2015 Expos,…

Griffin Greenhouse Supplies set new attendance records with its 2015 Expos. Its 2016 Expos are set for August 31 and September 1, 2016, in West Springfield, Mass., and September 21-22, 2016, in Lancaster, Penn.

Read More

October 28, 2015

Possum Run Greenhouses Taken Over By New Owners

Justin and Lynn Marotta have placed Possum Run Greenhouse and Gifts into the hands of new owners. John and Caroline Bletner, a newly married couple, took over the Bellville, Ohio, property October 2, according to an October 24 article in the Mansfield News Journal. The Marotta family has run Possum Run Greenhouse and Gifts for 41 years. When the Marottas announced in April the greenhouse operation was for sale, they said they were looking for an energetic couple to take the business to the next level, which is what they found in the Bletners, the article reports. The Bletners have hinted they’ll be “opening to a larger market” and that the retail side will “look different.” They’ll hold a grand re-opening the week of April 22, 2016. Staff are staying on board and the Bletners are maintaining many of the suppliers. The 200-plus varieties of fuchsias Justin brought to the greenhouse […]

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