August 17, 2013

Group Purchasing Saves Heating Dollars

Depending on your location and the crops you grow, heating fuel may be one of our most significant input costs. Some greenhouse operations in Colorado and California are mitigating that expense through a program that provides group purchases of natural gas. Greenhouse Services Foundation, Inc. (GSF) is a non-profit 501 © (5) corporation that provides group wholesale purchasing of natural gas supply for greenhouses and agriculture-related business. Combining natural gas volume requirements from multiple facilities improves purchasing power and those savings are passed on to the program participants. GSF maximizes savings by handling as much of the administration as possible. “Having an active and involved board, as well as natural gas industry managers, has allowed the program to evolve and respond effectively to changing natural gas dynamics,” says Tagawa Enterprises’ Dave Tagawa, an early GSF board member and past president. “This unique program has proven to be beneficial for the […]

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July 29, 2013

Energy Conservation: Helpful Hints From NGMA

Why save energy? There are many reasons. Purchased energy is a significant and ongoing expense for most greenhouse operations. There is high probability that energy prices will continue to rise and most greenhouse operations have the ability to economize on fuel use. Energy is consumed all the time, year after year. Once it is consumed, you can never get it back. Anytime you can save energy costs, you are moving money directly to your bottom line, increasing your margins and competitiveness. Energy-efficient systems are usually engineered for optimum conversion, distribution and retention of heat. They can often produce better, more uniform crops, as well as being good for the environment. Even if it takes additional capital to achieve the highest level of energy saving, the long life of many energy-saving greenhouse system components make them sound investments. Where Can I Save Energy? • Make the most of free energy from sunlight […]

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June 11, 2013

Inbound Logistics Selects InMotion Global As A Top 100 Logistics IT Provider For Fifth Year

For a fifth consecutive year, Inbound Logistics Magazine has ranked InMotion Global TMS, a division of Interstate Logistics Group, on its list of top IT providers in recognition of its leadership in the logistics technology market.  InMotion Global’s innovative suite of free software solutions now includes the service, which finds free, instant truckload quotes, as well as the free InMotion Global TMS system. The company’s Transportation Management System (TMS) has won numerous awards over the years, including Food Logistics Magazine’s Top 100 Software and Technology Providers Award. InMotion Global TMS is a free, web-based, fully-hosted and patent-pending Transportation Management System. Its patent-pending technology allows shippers to manage every aspect of their logistics, transportation and enterprise distribution functions while providing complete freight movement visibility. The cloud-based Enterprise version offers a complete lane bid management module, multi-node data replication, cross browser compatibility, mobile device compatibility and order management, as well as a […]

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June 4, 2013

Oasis Presents Short Course Sessions With OFA Chief Economist Charlie Hall

At this year’s OFA Short Course, in Columbus, Ohio, Oasis Grower Solutions has taken its message “Shrink The Shrink” to new heights by enlisting the respected voice of OFA Chief Economist, Dr. Charlie Hall, to answer questions from OGS booth visitors. Set up as three, informal Q&A sessions, Dr. Hall will provide his unique and experienced perspective on such topics as greenhouse production costs, the impact of today’s economic conditions on growers and ultimately, how growers can shrink their shrink. “Our goal is to provide an exclusive opportunity for growers to not only learn more about our shrink-reducing products, but to better understand that what we’ve been telling them is firmly rooted in what Dr. Hall has been preaching for years,” says Oasis’ Marketing Manager Nathan Keil. “Charlie was such a natural fit for our message and our brand that we wanted to bring our two worlds together for the […]

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May 13, 2013

Preparation Is Key To Preventing Greenhouse Disasters

If this past winter’s severe storms and yo-yoing temperatures are an indicator of the new normal, growers need to be prepared to deal with increasing weather extremes. National Weather Service Director Louis Uccellini told USA Today in March that the recent wild weather, including more frequent destructive tornados, severe winter storms and drought and flood extremes, appear to part of a “new normal” for U.S. weather patterns. Uccellini says climate change could be contributing to the increased intensity of the storms and heavier amounts of precipitation. The extreme weather events that have occurred recently are likely to continue. At a May 2011 press conference held by the Union of Concerned Scientists, participants indicated that states, municipalities and businesses, especially the insurance industry, are well aware of the trend toward more frequent extreme weather events. During the conference, Katharine Hayhoe, a Texas Tech University climate scientist, called it global “weirding.” She […]

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May 7, 2013

Planning For Greenhouse Production

by DENNIS CRUM EACH year, growers devote more time and focus toward planning the next spring’s production. Businesses are under pressure to reduce shrink, increase sales and margins and satisfy market demands more than ever before.Because production planning is so critical to an operation’s profitability, growers should consider these factors for success. 1. Sell-ThroughDetailed records of the amount started versus the sold history for each line item should be kept and analyzed. Sales history by container size and type is helpful, but detailed records for each individual item is best. These records will better show the under- and over-performing items. 2. Timing Of SalesTracking the sales of specific items is important, but it is equally important is to analyze the timing of these sales. Knowing which items sold out very quickly in relationship to their scheduled finish date is very helpful information. This data should be compared to other items […]

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April 1, 2013

Your Most Profitable Plants Can Depend On Sales Volume, Plant Size

I have a favorite axiom about the digital products we offer you, our readers — give them more of the content they like and less of what they don’t. The same axiom could be applied to the crops you grow with a slight twist — give your customers more of the plants they want that generate the most profit. You grow a lot of plants, but which ones make the most profit? I talked to a few growers to find out which are most profitable for them and how they determine which are hits and which are misses. The Bedding Plant Grower: Volume Counts For Casa Verde Growers, Columbia Station, Ohio, the wholesale operation for Petitti Garden Centers in northern Ohio, the most profitable plants are born from a formula: marketing, pricing and promoting. Casa Verde’s Wayne Cousins says for the 20 years he’s been with the company, hanging baskets […]

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March 29, 2013

Deadline for Rural Energy For America Program (REAP) Grants Is April 30, 2013

The Fiscal Year 2013 Rural Energy for America Program (REAP) was announced March 28. This grant and guaranteed loan program helps agricultural producers and rural small businesses reduce energy costs and consumption and helps meet America’s critical energy needs.   Agricultural producers and rural small businesses are eligible to apply. Grants are available to reimburse 25 percent of the costs to purchase and install renewable energy or energy efficiency improvements. The guaranteed loans can cover 75 percent of the costs up to $25 million. Grants are also available to reimburse the 25 percent of the costs of a feasibility study for renewable energy projects up to $50,000.   Please note that there is approximately $20.8 million available nationwide, which is substantially less than in previous years. The program is expected to be highly competitive this year. In order to be considered for Fiscal Year 2013 funds, complete applications must be […]

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Richard Jones

February 7, 2013

Make Your Vendor A Partner

I spent a few hours this week reading through the responses to Greenhouse Grower’s 2013 State of the Industry report for a project I’m working on. As always, our survey had a series of in-depth questions specifically for growers. But this year, we also polled your vendors to get a better perspective on where their segments of the market stand. Some of the most interesting responses came when we questioned growers and suppliers about each other. We asked the suppliers, “What would you like growers to do that would improve profitability for both them and your company?” And we asked growers, “Besides lowering prices, what could vendors/suppliers/distributors be doing to improve your profitability?” The responses to both questions were (mostly) calm, well-reasoned and thoughtful, and taken together, reveal some opportunities for both sides to work together better. Suppliers, for example, offered growers sound business advice on product levels, mix and […]

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February 5, 2013

Grants Make Greenhouse Projects Possible

With energy costs ranking as one of the top concerns for greenhouse growers, it makes sense to take advantage of energy-efficient equipment and technology. But the cost of retrofitting or adding new equipment can be cost-prohibitive, and it’s often difficult to come up with the capital, even though the savings will be greater in the long-term. This is where government utility-based incentives can play a role. These programs are designed to provide and incentive and make it more feasible for businesses to make investments in energy-saving technology, thus helping to reduce energy consumption overall. Incentives come in several forms. In order to take advantage of incentives, growers need to become educated about how to apply and what types of projects are usually funded. Types Of Incentives “There are three types of incentives,” says Dan Kuipers, solar sales manager and grant specialist with TrueLeaf Technologies, a supplier of heating, irrigation and […]

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January 9, 2013

Commerce Corp. Sues Its Former President Malcomb Cork

As Baltimore-based Commerce Corp. undergoes either a dramatic downsizing or the final steps before closing its doors (read our article covering the conflicting reports here), it is also filing a lawsuit against its former president, Malcomb Cork. The lawsuit, filed in Maryland District Court in Baltimore, focuses on a $450,000 shareholder loan agreement made to Cork in July 2010, which Commerce alleges he did not repay, according to court papers. With accrued interest, Commerce is suing for $486,243.65, plus attorney and court fees. In response, Cork is countersuing Commerce for breach of employment agreement. In his suit, Cork says Commerce let him go without cause, which according to the employment agreement was the only reason he could be let go without 120-day notice. In the court filings, Cork gives his side of events from June and July 2012. Cork says he and his family were on a planned vacation to […]

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January 8, 2013

How The Fiscal Cliff Affects Small Businesses

The congressional bill concerning the fiscal cliff deal received final approval on Jan. 1, 2013, with a 257 to 157 bipartisan vote in the House of Representatives, the American Nursery and Landscape Association (ANLA) reports. A nine-month extension on the 2008 Farm Bill was also inclouded in the deal. The compromise between Democrats and Republicans includes $46 billion in business tax breaks, and the president is expected to sign the bill soon. According to, part of the bill includes many temporary tax provisions that will continue through the end of the year, including a research and development tax credit. Through an additional provision, businesses may now also receive 50 percent bonus depreciation, which is essentially a tax credit for half the value of new investments. In the green industry, greenhouses and garden centers benefit from tax breaks for retail store and restaurant improvements and wind power and other alternative […]

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