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...
protecting bees and pollinators video

March 31, 2015

New Video On Protecting Bees And Pollinators Educates Horticulture Industry Professionals

A new educational video that provides information on the horticultural industry’s essential role in bee and pollinator stewardship is one result of industry collaboration by the Horticultural Research Institute, AmericanHort, Society of American Florists and the American Floral Endowment. “Protecting Bees & Pollinators: What Horticulture Needs to Know,” narrates the current state of bee and pollinator health, provides information on factors that impact pollinators and the environment and underscores the beneficial role horticulture plays in providing healthy pollinator ecosystems.

Read More

March 31, 2015

California Summer Vegetable Trials To Be Hosted By National Garden Bureau Members

Vegetable breeding companies will come together this August to host the Summer Vegetable Trials in California. Like the long-standing California Spring Trials that are held annually in California, attendees will have the opportunity to visit breeding companies' trial sites in seven locations throughout the state, from August 20-21, 2015. National Garden Bureau (NGB), the non-profit organization promoting gardening on behalf of the horticulture industry, is organizing and publicizing this event on behalf of its members.

Read More

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
Latest Stories

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

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 on your desktop, on your phone, on your tablet

February 11, 2015 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, The new design is the product of direct user feedback and analytics, and includes responsive design for ease of mobile use.

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
Syngenta Bioline Hires Ronald Valentin For Technical Lead Role

January 28, 2015

Syngenta Bioline Hires Ronald Valentin For Technical Le…

Ronald Valentin has been appointed technical lead for Syngenta Bioline, effective January 2015. He will be responsible for technical support of Bioline biological control agents and will be instrumental in helping growers develop integrated pest management (IPM) solutions.

Read More

January 27, 2015

Give Equal Time To The Number Crunchers

Before investing in a new business opportunity, check in with the financial gurus of your organization to make certain you have the cash flow to back up your efforts.

Read More
Plant Introductions, Inc. partners Mark Griffith, Dr. Michael Dirr and Jeff Beasley and Bailey Nurseries President Terri McEnaney.

January 20, 2015

Bailey Nurseries’ Purchase Of Plant Introductions Inc. …

When Bailey Nurseries purchased its long-time breeding partner, Plant Introductions, Inc. (PII), in early January 2015, it freed the PII team to concentrate on what they do best: develop new plants. Bailey Nurseries will take on the business management side of the partnership, but otherwise the relationship it has enjoyed with PII for years will be largely unchanged.

Read More
Plant Introductions, Inc. partners Mark Griffith, Dr. Michael Dirr and Jeff Beasley and Bailey Nurseries President Terri McEnaney.

January 13, 2015

Bailey Nurseries Acquires Plant Introductions

Bailey Nurseries has acquired Plant Introductions, Inc. (PII), effective January 1, 2015. PII has developed numerous innovative new varieties that have been marketed worldwide, many introduced by Bailey Nurseries.

Read More

January 7, 2015

How Inflation Affects Your Business And Why You Can’t I…

Awareness of the true increase in costs after inflation is a necessary part of good financial management for greenhouse operations.

Read More