September 13, 2011

Two Qualities All Growers Should Exhibit

George Lucas can’t say enough good things about Bob’s Market and Greenhouses, the West Virginia-based plug supplier that also happens to compete with Lucas Greenhouses on certain items. Gary Mangum, whose greenhouse operation buys nearly all of its seedlings from Bob’s Market, raves just as much about the quality of the plugs Bell Nursery receives. I’ve heard growers compliment suppliers before. But I had never heard growers speak with such admiration about another until I spoke this summer with Lucas and Mangum about Bob’s Market, our 2011 Operation of the Year winner. These two past Grower of the Year winners have such tremendous respect for the Barnitz family of Bob’s Market and for numerous reasons, but the two qualities that make the operation such an outstanding plug supplier to its customers are regular communication and killer customer service. 1. Regular Communication The conversation you’ll have the first time you tell […]

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September 9, 2011

Dutch Grower Realizing Better Logistics With RFID

Container Centralen (CC) added RFID tags to all of its European CC carts earlier this year. Authentication was Container Centralen’s primary goal in adding RFID, but BAAS Plantenservice, a Dutch grower that participated in the RFID pilot project, realized improved logistics handling as well as fewer shipping errors as a result. The track-and-trace system starts with BAAS’s suppliers, who apply a barcode label with the BAAS order number to each Container Centralen cart. The barcode is linked to the CC RFID tag by scanning both with a ScanGreen RFID handheld. The information is sent to BAAS and its transport companies via the ScanGreen RFID platform, which uses it to optimize the inbound transport. When the cart is loaded, the driver also scans the tag, and that information is also sent to BAAS. BAAS then knows exactly when goods will arrive. Upon arrival, BAAS only needs to scan the RFID tags, […]

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August 10, 2011

Is Dedicated Contract Carriage The Trucking Solution For You?

Dedicated Contract Carriage is one of the fastest growing segments of the trucking and distribution industry. Companies like Walmart, Target, Kroger and a host of name brand distributors use Dedicated Contract Carriage as a way to reduce costs, increase truck capacity and transfer liability and headaches. In fact, many major corporations that need a truck fleet are moving away from ownership (including leasing) and toward Dedicated Contract Carriage for some or all of their trucking operations. Generally, you have four options when moving your material to your customer locations. The first three of these options are relatively common–and 99 percent of growers fall into one of these three categories. First, you can buy your own trucks (and I include leasing or renting trucks in this category). Second, you can outsource the entire job to a third party (a third party logistics provider, 3PL or a broker). Third, you can try […]

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July 27, 2011

Control Your Destiny

At the OFA Short Course last month, we tried something new and hosted a panel discussion called, “Boost Your Bottom Line.” This was an open conversation with the owners and top management from our four finalists for Operation of the Year – Bob’s Market & Greenhouses in West Virginia, Emerald Coast Growers in Florida, James Greenhouses in Georgia and Rocket Farms in California. We figured, if we are to look for ways to improve, start with growers who have a proven track record and aren’t standing still. Boosting your bottom line means addressing both sides of the equation – costs and revenue. The three big cost centers for wholesale growers are labor, transportation and energy. Prime strategies for tackling labor issues include investing in automation, cultivating labor pools and getting more productivity out of the employees you have with lean practices. Growers who are most active addressing energy costs are […]

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July 27, 2011

Lean Flow For The Green Industry Workshop In August

Flow Vision is hosting a Lean Flow In The Green Industry Workshop at Kraft Gardens, Fort Pierce, Fla., August 30-31. Lean manufacturing is a production method that looks at efficiency and eliminating waste. Some of the reasons FlowVision says Lean processes make sense in the greenhouses are:  • Products require direct-labor touches, and most touches add only cost, not value • Sell-through—when your products are at maximum cost and represent potential revenue—is low, and may comprise your most significant lost opportunity • Facilities are enormous and your product mix is broad, so non-value-adding workforce "travel time" is costly • Products and processes are highly seasonal and unpredictable, generating long hours, long days, air freight and product damage • Living products that don’t sell when expected require more touches, only to be sold at a discount or dumped at full cost For more information or to register, contact Gary Cortes at […]

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July 25, 2011

Fredriks Nursery: Nice Guys Finish First

David Fredriks takes the old recipe for success in business, find a need and fill it, to a new level. As the owner of Fredriks Nursery in Ripon, Calif., about a two-hour drive east of San Francisco, Fredriks tries to anticipate people’s needs and fill them before they feel, well, needy. Take his customers’ products, for example. Fredriks is a wholesale grower who supplies independent retail nurseries within a 100-mile radius of his operation, which consists of approximately 140,000 square feet of greenhouses and more than 12 acres of shade house area. “I have to keep them happy,” he says, “and to be happy they need to have things that are different than the chain stores.” Fredriks says he’s always sold to the independent stores, and they’ve been really good to him. So he made a commitment years ago not to sell to the big box stores. “I have nothing […]

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July 14, 2011

Young’s Plant Farm Wins Innovation Award

Young’s Plant Farm of Auburn, Ala., won first place in the Innovation category for the 2011 Sage Customer Awards. Young’s teamed with Practical Software Solutions to add Scan By Cart capabilities to Sage ERP MAS 500 Grower Vertical.   The Innovation Award recognizes the extraordinary achievement of a customer that adopted Sage applications as an enterprise-class solution for its industry. "We’re honored that Sage recognized the Grower Vertical module for a second time," says Vince Stamey, Chief Executive Officer of Practical Software Solutions. "Grower Vertical is a credit to how flexible Sage ERP MAS 500 is and how businesses can have it tailored to meet the needs of their customers. We congratulate Young’s Plant Farm for winning this highly coveted award." Scan By Cart was developed after one of Young’s Plant Farm’s big box retailers changed its UPC system to give unique codes for every plant variety and color. Instead […]

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July 13, 2011

QR Codes Are Everywhere At Short Course

Normal 0 false false false EN-US X-NONE X-NONE Of all the marketing trends we saw at this year’s OFA Short Course, probably the most pervasive was the use of 2D Codes. Although it’s still a relatively new technology – barcodes designed for smart phone readers have really only been around for a couple of years, and only a handful were evident at last year’s Short Course – the codes were popping up everywhere in the convention center in 2011. The technology clearly has resonated with the industry as a quick and easy way to deliver information to customers, whether they are growers, retailers or consumers. Check out this slideshow with just a few of the creative ways the ornamentals industry is getting into 2D Codes.

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July 10, 2011

Succeed By Setting Expectations For Your Staff

We’d like to think everyone on our staff has the same stake in the success of the business as we do. “We all want the people who work for us to act like owners,” says Eric Beck, with Total Integration LLC. That’s easier said than done of course. Whether it’s because an employee doesn’t understand what they’re expected to do, doesn’t have the training or skills to do it correctly, or there are other communication problems, issues invariably arise. An assignment isn’t completed or it’s done wrong and you or another staff member end up spending time correcting the problem. Many times, Beck says, the owner or manager reacts by getting angry and showing everybody who’s boss. But that can be counterproductive too. “Power works but it doesn’t solve everything. If you’re the general all the time, it won’t work for long. If your staff is scared of you, they […]

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July 9, 2011

Find Ways To Beat Stress

You can often get a good feel for the way things are going in the industry by the types of educational topics you see at events like Short Course. So it’s probably not surprising that a couple of the first sessions out of the gate on Saturday covered dealing with stress in the workplace. It probably seems like today we’re all busier and busier just trying to keep up and that’s true for many of us. Short Course speaker Joyce Weiss told a roomful of growers and retailers that doing more with less is the new normal for all of us these days, and while we’re all getting a lot done, we’re feeling the effects. “Finding a work/life balance is important,” she says. “We can’t have a productive work environment if employees are stretched to the max in their work or home life.” Companies need to find ways to help […]

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June 24, 2011

Higham: One Transportation Solution

Dedicated Contract Carriage is one of the fastest growing segments of the trucking and distribution industry. Companies like Walmart, Target, Kroger and a host of name brand distributors use Dedicated Contract Carriage as a way to reduce costs, increase truck capacity and transfer liability and headaches. In fact, many major corporations that need a truck fleet are moving away from ownership (including leasing) and toward Dedicated Contract Carriage for some or all of their trucking operations. Generally, you have four options when moving your material to your customer locations. The first three of these options are relatively common–and 99 percent of growers fall into one of these three categories. First, you can buy your own trucks (and I include leasing or renting trucks in this category). Second, you can outsource the entire job to a third party (a third party logistics provider, 3PL or a broker). Third, you can try to […]

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