March 24, 2010

Benchmarking: Employee And Management Assessment

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March 23, 2010

Reasons For Optimism

Unbelieveable. That’s the best way to describe some of the events that have occurred since my last column. The Massachusetts special election has rocked the political world and profoundly affected the prospects for health reform just when it looked like passage was a lock. Efforts are under way to put health reform legislation together again on Capitol Hill, but it will look dramatically different than the version proposed by either the House or Senate. All of this goes to show the one thing that is certain in politics is uncertainty. Unfortunately, that uncertainty carries over into the marketplace and affects the confidence of businesses and industries, sometimes to the point that the level of business investment is hindered – which is precisely the situation we have found ourselves in recent months. However, heading into spring, several of the leading business confidence indicators reflect a more optimistic mindset on the part […]

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March 2, 2010

Walmart: The New Green Giant?

Walmart announced last week it plans to eliminate 20 million metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions from its global supply chain by the end of 2015. The 20 million metric tons represent 1.5 times the company’s estimated global carbon footprint growth over the next five years, and it’s the equivalent of taking more than 3.8 million cars off the road for a year. The initiative is one of several environmental initiatives Walmart has launched in recent years. Considering all the initiatives, USA Today recently explored whether Walmart is the “new green giant” in the United States. USA Today mainly reacted to reports other news sources produced in its own report. For example, in response to the greenhouse gas emissions initiative, Miguel Bustillo of The Wall Street Journal, writes: “Walmart will make its suppliers do the dirty work of reducing the carbon footprints of their supply chains.” If Walmart plans to […]

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February 19, 2010

Boosting Your Bottom Line: Benchmark Analysis

The Great Recession, as Charlie Hall refers to our economy the last two years, led to great structural changes in our industry. Fewer growers are operating businesses today than they were two years ago, and the ones still standing–particularly the ones thriving financially–have one thing in common: They benchmark their performance. “There are a number of folks who were in business a couple years ago who aren’t here with us today,” says Hall, holder of the Ellison Chair in International Floriculture at Texas A&M University. “There are many reasons for that, but by and large, many of those growers did not go through benchmarking efforts.” Benchmarking is one way the highest performers in our industry have survived the Great Recession. But in addition to benchmarking, successful growers are analyzing their resources and capabilities to determine competitive advantages while also tearing apart the value chain and reengineering it to reduce costs […]

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February 16, 2010

Walmart’s Strict Delivery Deadlines

Walmart suppliers will now face stiffer penalties if they repeatedly miss the retailer’s newly designated four-day delivery window. As of February 1, Walmart suppliers will face stiff penalties if their merchandise does not reach Walmart warehouses Normal 0 false false false MicrosoftInternetExplorer4 - its U.S. distribution centers Normal 0 false false false MicrosoftInternetExplorer4 - within the newly designated four-day delivery window, Reuters reports. “Those suppliers which have an ongoing record of missing this designated four-day delivery window, they’ll have 3 percent of the cost of goods deducted from the invoices for each delivery that doesn’t arrive on time Normal 0 false false false MicrosoftInternetExplorer4 - whether it’s too early or late,” says Walmart’s Dan Fogelman. “This helps ensure the steady flow of freight through the system so that stores are stocked appropriately. At the same time you’re not warehousing a lot of things and handling them at multiple times.” Walmart […]

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February 11, 2010

Saluting Will Carlson

Shortly before he died, I had a talk with Will in which he said “My work is done.” What a “work” that was! Will was one of the foremost floriculturists of our time. He was a leader whose enquiring mind, energy and drive changed the face of floriculture and brought untold millions of dollars of wealth to the industry and to countless thousands of growers. He was the person with a new idea every day, and the nerve and audacity to change the status quo and the uncanny ability to sense trends before they happened. Will was tough. He ruffled the feathers of those in the path of change. He had no patience for bureaucracy and red tape and was impatient for results. He could be scathing, but his objectives were always to benefit floriculture and the grower in a very direct way. Will was a product of the Land-Grant […]

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February 11, 2010

Elevating An Industry

Will stayed in touch with his students. Shi-Ying Wang seeks Will’s autograph during a book signing at OFA’s Short Course in 2003. It’s no fluke that Michigan is the third-largest state for floriculture crops, right after California and Florida. While those two large sunny states have natural climatic advantages, why would cold, cloudy Michigan emerge as third? It all started in 1966, when an ambitious new floriculture Extension agent at Michigan State University (MSU) named Will Carlson urged vegetable growers, who were losing business to farmers in the South and West, to start producing bedding plants–flowering annuals from seed. While most university floriculture programs were focused on fresh cut flowers, blooming potted plants and potted foliage, Will believed bedding plants had the potential to be the next big wave in horticulture. Thanks to his drive and leadership, within 25 years, bedding plants went from being the smallest segment of floriculture […]

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January 25, 2010

USDA Funding Battle Against Plant Pests

USDA has allocated $45 million, provided by Section 10201 of the 2008 Farm Bill, for projects in support of critical plant health safeguarding initiatives across America. The funding was announced earlier this week by Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. Funding will be provided to more than 50 cooperators, including state departments of agriculture, universities, non-profit organizations and USDA agencies in support of over 200 projects. As Vilsack announced, these state, regional and national projects will support the Farm Bill goals of building strong systems to safeguard the health of U.S. agricultural industries using early plant pest detection and surveillance, threat identification and mitigation. Roughly $2 million of these funds are being targeted to projects specifically related to the goal of safeguarding nursery production. “A number of the target projects are relevant to the green industry,” says Craig Regelbrugge, ANLA vice president for government relations. “We are especially excited several projects will […]

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January 24, 2010

VMI: The Game Changer

Vendor managed inventories (VMI), or ” pay by scan” as we more commonly know it, has changed the way growers do business – both large and small – resulting in both success and failures. In trying to determine why some fared better than others, I spent a lot of time in retail gardens centers and talked to a number of growers who are heavily involved in VMI. The major elements that affect the management were discovered to be the following: • A positive mindset that looks at VMI as an opportunity • Analyzing the sell-through data to drive inventory decisions • Controlling discards • Product quality – just a “ticket to play” • Distribution • Merchandising • Innovation Positive Mindset When pay by scan was first introduced, many were fearful of their potential to be profitable under the system. Pay by scan caused a lot of dissent and negative conversations […]

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January 23, 2010

Time To Refocus

Last month, I promised I would share a few ideas on how to avoid or repair the damage when the bottom drops out of your business. I am writing this as 2009 draws to a close. You are reading it in February, when you are in the midst of your spring season. All of us are wondering what the future of our industry will be. Unfortunately, none of us has a crystal ball so we can know for sure what will happen. In March 2000, I wrote: “To survive in this industry, you must find the stars, milk the cows, look carefully at the question marks, dump the dogs and keep squintin’.” That’s probably good advice today. (If you want to read the rest of what I had to say, get a copy of my book, “One To Grow On,” from Meister Media Worldwide and check out the column titled […]

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January 21, 2010

In 2009, Poinsettias Persevered

Doubts about consumer spending during the holidays were understandable, but growers pulled through yet another poinsettia season in 2009 that can be described as good for many, great for some and better than most anticipated. As one Midwestern grower serving independent garden centers put it: “The 2009 poinsettia market was very busy. We saw excellent sell-through with wholesale clients and in our retail stores. Despite the economic worries, people were still purchasing poinsettias.” The majority of growers would agree with all or most of that sentiment. Of the 100-plus poinsettia growers we surveyed earlier this year, nearly half report sales increases over 2008. More than one-quarter report at least maintaining their 2008 sales in ’09, and less than one-quarter say they experienced sales decreases with poinsettias. What else did growers say about poinsettia season? We reveal highlights from our 2010 Poinsettia Survey and share production and sales data we gathered […]

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