Just Ask To Sell More

I met a new friend who works in the rubber industry as a sales manager. He is a great guy who is deeply involved in that industry, as well as with his church and the Michigan State University (MSU) community. His wife is also involved with MSU activities as a Master Gardener and volunteers as a docent in the 4-H Children’s Garden. They are both active in the music department and athletic department at MSU. They attend all hockey, football, men’s and women’s basketball games, and so on. They are really true Spartans!

The couple also is active in the community and their neighborhood where my friend’s wife serves as treasurer of the homeowners’ association. I enjoy observing all the activities they are involved in and seeing how happy they are!

An Outsider’s View

Recently, I asked my friend to take a look at our industry. From the information I gave him he said, “Selling in your industry isn’t much different from selling in any other industry. The main goal is to get your industry back to work again.”

I told him we have built the industry from a couple hundred million dollars to more than $4.5 billion in less than 30 years. We now have the technology to produce billions of plants in a short period of time. Our plants can be used for food, pharmaceuticals, ornamentals, bio-fuels and fiber. We are the plant factories of this country, creating products that can be used for all aspects of our economy.

While we know how to produce all these billions of plants, we need to learn more about how to sell them.

“It’s time to think out of the box,” he said. “You are the plant factories. You produce plants and do it well. You can use these factories 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.

You can grow what you want when you want. Your production is unquestionable. You can be the most productive plant factories in the world.”

He went on to explain: “For example, the U.S. government spends millions of dollars to help foreign countries feed their people. Why shouldn’t the government contract with growers to produce plugs or started plants for these countries to finish?

“If they don’t know how, set up a system to teach the basics of how to do the task. If they can’t learn how to do it, ship them the finished product.”

I know there are more than 1 billion people in this world who go to bed hungry every night. It is a shame because they can’t eat money, but they surely could use some food. We have the production system to solve the problem, but someone needs to put the information technology, logistics and marketing together to make it happen.

I said to my friend, “I have often said I would be more thankful to eat corn and have bio-fuel than to eat sand and have oil.” I asked him, “What do we need to do to utilize our greenhouse facilities to their maximum?”

He responded: “Just ask, like any good salesperson would do. Observe and ask what people want and need.”

Attitude, Skill, Knowledge

He then explained what the three letters in the word ASK meant.

A – You need a positive attitude.
Make a friend. Be a friend. Solve their problems. Find out what they need, when they need it and how you can help them make money or address a need they have.

S – You need skill.
This is something you acquire by learning the techniques necessary to grow a plant. Many people learn these skills with years of experience. The old saying is you can tell people what to do or you can show people what to do, but they will only learn the skill by doing it themselves.

As I’ve written before, my brother and I had a discussion on how to acquire the skills to effectively grow plants. We finally agreed that 16 years of practical experience is about equal to a four-year horticulture degree. However, the student with the horticulture degree must also have one year of on-the-job experience. People with either of these degrees of experience should have the skills to produce almost any plant product that grows on earth with the potential to do it faster and better than it grows in its natural surroundings.

However, our sales skills may be what’s missing in the equation. Even if we ask what people want and need and when they need it, we must still develop the ability to market what we produce.

K – You need knowledge.
Knowledge is always a limiting factor. Once we have identified the plant needed, we need to exploit it. We need learn everything about the plant in order to use it to our advantage. It may take time, money and scientific research to accomplish this. So a strong research and development program is always critical. More of this effort is being done by private industry, but there is still a great need for research from the USDA Agricultural Research Service and the Agriculture Experiment Stations at our land grant institutions, as well as from private foundations.

We need to improve our knowledge. We have to invest in logistical technology to enable us to move a perishable product, not only from state to state but from country to country. We need to focus not only on post-harvest physiology but on pre-harvest physiology

Hold On For The Ride

It will take time, effort and energy to do all the work to answer the questions we would like to have answered in our knowledge base, but we are in the best position to make it happen.

My friend reminded me again, “Don’t put yourself in a box, but look outside the box and see the tremendous potential you and your facility have. An idea can turn to dust or magic, depending on the talent that rubs against it.”

People who succeed usually consider their work as play they love. They know the truth they believe, and when spoken with a smile, can penetrate the mind and reach the hearts of others who can help make their vision happen.

So now we need to ask the question: How do we survive this recession/depression?

1. Be positive! Follow your goals!

2. You are 100 percent responsible for your career and where you are going.

3. Beware of conventional thinking!
You need to get your own facts and data and assess the state of your business.

4. Cover yourself.
Make sure your retirement savings, health care and other “perks” are under your control.

5. Be aware of people who promote “good financial deals.”
Most of them are now unemployed. Never deal with a person who has fewer assets than you who is trying to tell you what to do with your assets.

6. Justice will prevail, but it usually takes time and money to make it happen.
There are few of us who know plants and how to grow them − you are one of the chosen few. Use your talents wisely. You will be a great asset to our country and the world as a whole.

Leave a Reply

More From Finance/Operations...
Bee Vectoring Technology Bumblebee

December 1, 2015

New Crop Protection Solution Uses Bees To Deliver Biocontrols To Flowering Crops

The new system from Bee Vectoring Technology incorporated a powdered crop protection material into the lid of commercial bumblebee hives. Bees pick up the product when they leave the hive and deposit it on every plant they visit.

Read More
Smith Gardens Marysville outdoor field production

November 30, 2015

Why Smith Gardens’ Marysville, WA, Facility Is A Great Place To Work

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
Feature - Agave ‘Blue Waves’ (Rancho Tissue Technologies)

November 30, 2015

Spice Up The Garden With 12 New Succulent And Miniature Plant Varieties

New succulents and miniature plants for 2016 offer a variety of colors and foliage textures that add interest and visual appeal to any size garden — indoors or out.

Read More
Latest Stories
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

October 25, 2015

We Could Be Growing More Green Infrastructure Plants Th…

At her Cultivate’15 presentation in July, Shannon Currey of Hoffman Nursery challenged the horticulture industry to get involved while green infrastructure is still developing, saying that a good start is to offer more plants that fit the unique needs of this market.

Read More
Integration Key To Compliance For Specialized Crops

October 22, 2015

Integration Key To Regulation Compliance For Specializ…

Growers considering supplementing ornamental crops with cannabis will enter into a new world of governmental regulations where key business systems will be indispensable for successful crop management.

Read More
Kate Santos Operations Director Dummen Orange

October 21, 2015

Kate Santos Explains What The Sale Of Dümmen Orange To …

Over the weekend, Dümmen Orange announced that the Dümmen family has sold its majority stake in the Dutch flower breeding company Dümmen Orange to European private equity firm BC Partners. The deal is valued at more than $560 million, around 11 times its core earnings, according to a Reuters press release. The company, owned by the Dümmen family and investment firm H2 Equity partners, has locations all over the world, including farms in Central America and East Africa. This is BC Partners’ first foray into the flower business. We caught up with Kate Santos, operations director for Dümmen Orange, to find out how the company’s sale to BC Partners affects Dümmen Orange customers, if at all. Here’s what she told us: Why did the Dümmen family decide to sell their shares? Why to a private equity investment company? Similar to the reason that H2 sold its shares to BC Partners, all […]

Read More
The tradeshow at the Cannabis Business Summit & Expo — outside of the occasional 1960s vibe, perhaps — would feel familiar to most growers

October 19, 2015

Have Cannabis Growing Expertise, Seek ‘Golden Ticket’

Many horticultural growers might start cultivating cannabis tomorrow if they could secure a license, the equivalent of a “golden ticket.” But these are hard to come by, and the number and criteria vary greatly by state

Read More
Lurie Garden Millennium Park

October 16, 2015

Green Infrastructure An Opportunity To Redefine How We …

Green infrastructure is an emerging market that has important ramifications for the horticulture industry. That is, if growers, designers and other industry players take a proactive approach to grasp the opportunities that come their way.

Read More

October 5, 2015

Smart Business Sense At Tidal Creek Growers Yields Succ…

Tidal Creek Growers stays competitive by focusing on what really turns a profit. It helps the large operation successfully balance contract growing with growing for retail garden centers.

Read More

October 4, 2015

ePlantSource Adds 5 New Partner Companies

ePlantSource has announced an additional five companies that have been added to its partner distribution list. Not only do the additional partners offer more supplier options to ePlantSource customers, but the website now also provides a more diverse product list with the addition of bulbs, clematis and many new varieties. New partners added for the 2015 – 2016 season: A.D.R. Bulbs Lennon Farm Greenhouses Micandy Gardens Pacific Growers Roseville Farms “We make it a priority to respond to our customers, and we have had many requests for additional options and a more diverse product line, so we are continually evaluating suppliers that work well with our non-traditional approach to the sale of live goods,” says Gary Falkenstein, President and CEO of ePlantSource. “We feel that it is good for our company, our customers and the industry as a whole to keep looking forward and seeing how we can improve and expand how […]

Read More
Cannabis marijuana

September 8, 2015

Supplemental Lighting Benefits For Growing Cannabis In …

The cannabis industry has moved out of the basement and into the light, and with this shift in politics and regulation occurring worldwide there is a need for growers to change the way they think about lighting and energy consumption.

Read More

September 2, 2015

Delegation Is Key To A Successful Greenhouse Operation

In a packed room at Cultivate’15, speaker Bernie Erven presented key steps growers need to take to improve their delegation skills, the benefits of delegating and the dangers of not learning how to delegate. This is a skill, he says, that everyone needs to learn. “For all of you who are part of a family business, you are choosing not to do things the easy way,” Erven laughed, as he presented a list of ways to know whether or not you’re an effective delegator. The owner of Erven HR Services, LLC, Erven has been working with and observing family businesses for many years. In his presentation, he said, he didn’t share anything that he hasn’t seen first-hand. You might not be a good delegator if you: Tend to be a perfectionist Work more hours than anyone else Lack time to explain clearly and concisely Are often interrupted Enjoy what you used to […]

Read More
AmericanHort logo

August 20, 2015

David Savoia To Serve As AmericanHort’s Interim P…

Following Michael Geary’s announcement that he has resigned as president and CEO of AmericanHort, the association has announced that CFO and Senior Vice President for Operations David Savoia will serve as interim president and CEO while the board conducts a search for a new staff executive. Craig Regelbrugge, the senior vice president for advocacy and research, will support Savoia with the association’s external affairs. Geary announced August 12  that he will be leaving his position after September 30 to serve as CEO of the Society for Marketing Professional Services, an organization dedicated to creating business opportunities in the architecture, engineering and construction industries. “As some of you know, I grew up connected to the horticulture industry so this was not an easy decision for me,” Geary said in an eMail. “I have loved working with our organizations and our talented members, staff and partners. However, my choice to return full time to Washington, D.C. will allow me […]

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