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

Q&A With USDA’s Randy Monhemius

Randy Monhemius, business program specialist for the USDA Rural Development program, discusses grower interest in alternative energy grants and loans and shares his vision on where alternative energy is going. Can you gauge the level of interest growers are expressing in alternative energy grants and loans today compared to their level of interest one year ago? Two years ago? Five years ago? There is certainly a growing interest in the use of renewable energy to meet the heating needs of the greenhouses. Rural Development has available the Rural Energy for America Program that could be used to provide a grant and/or loan guarantee to help these growers offset the costs of installing these renewable energy systems. Fueling A Movement to learn about growers who’ve already implemented alternative energy systems into their greenhouse operations and explored USDA’s energy grants and loans. However, energy efficiency within the greenhouse could also be eligible […]

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January 21, 2010

Impressions Of Poinsettia Season

We asked growers what their impression of the 2009 poinsettia market was. Here’s how some of them responded: “It was surprisingly good considering the economic climate.” – Jill West, Al’s Garden Center and Greenhouses “Heating costs are making it harder and harder to grow poinsettias. Poinsettias are sluggish and getting harder to sell. We need to keep broadening our customer base.” – Mark Tepper, Orchard Hill Greenhouses “Retail customers are willing to pay for better quality and size, but mass merchandisers are loathed to stock a higher price point poinsettia.” – Ann Detweiler “Great except for those big companies that sold poinsettias for $1 as a loss leader. I can’t buy a cutting under a dollar much less grow it for three months!” – Lee Mizell, Schilling Greenhouses “Our impression is a lot of garden centers have made the exceptionally bad decision to stop selling poinsettias.” – Jason Parks, Parks […]

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January 21, 2010

Geremia Greenhouse Is Embracing Education

The greenhouses seemingly stretch for miles, producing millions of quality flowers and fresh vegetables destined for a country an ocean away. Which country is the destination? It’s ours, of course, and those never-ending greenhouse facilities are the ones Joe Geremia sees when he visits Canada, The Netherlands and other countries across the world. Geremia, co-owner and president of Geremia Greenhouse in Wallingford, Conn., is awestruck by greenhouse operations beyond our borders. But he also wonders about opportunities U.S. growers are missing– particularly with vegetables. Not just to combat imports, but to accelerate consumer growth, improve food safety and become food providers should a day come when the United States can no longer rely on vegetables by sea or sky. So rather than wonder about missed opportunities, Geremia is taking action to create them for his operation and others. He’s planning to build a commercial greenhouse on his property called the […]

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January 21, 2010

Three Poinsettia Questions With K&W Greenery

Phyliss Williams of K&W Greenery in Janesville, Wisc., shares how K&W made poinsettias special for its customers. Is the popularity of poinsettias waning at K&W Greenery? We haven’t seen it this year. In fact, we just had a staff meeting this morning and talked about how we were up in November from the last couple of years and in particular, the poinsettias were up. How do you make poinsettias special? We do a couple things a little different. We offer free local delivery on poinsettias, just to encourage the purchase. We also have something called "Guaranteed Gorgeous." And that means that if they buy it and then leave it in their trunk overnight, we don’t care. Come on back in and we’ll give you a new one. That seems to take a lot of the anxiety out of it, because everyone at some time has killed a poinsettia. K&W Greenery […]

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January 21, 2010

Poinsettia Survey: Complete Results

Late last year, we surveyed growers about their poinsettias. We asked them questions regarding production, sales, marketing and more. Now, we present the complete results from that survey. How many years has your operation been growing poinsettias? More than 30        37.1% 20 to 30               33.9% 10 to 20               14.5% 5 to 10                   9.7% Less than 5            4.8% Where are you located? Northeast         25.8% Southeast        13.7% Midwest           37.1% Southwest          2.4% West                12.9% Not In The U.S.    8.1% Who is your primary poinsettia customer? E-commerce sites                0.9% Farm markets                      0 Home improvement chains    4.3% Independent garden centers 26.5% Mass market retailers           8.5% Other growers                      1.7% Supermarket chains             7.7% Wholesale florists                9.4% Your own retail shop           39.3% From which of the four major poinsettia breeders do you buy cuttings? Check […]

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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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January 20, 2010

Remembering Will Carlson

Greenhouse Grower’s Will Carlson, a friend to hundreds of growers across the country, died after battling a serious illness. A viewing will be held Sunday at Gorsline Runciman Funeral Home at 1730 East Grand River in East Lansing, Mich. Viewing hours are from 1 to 4 p.m. A reception will follow at the Plant and Soil Sciences Greenhouse Conservatory at Michigan State University (MSU) from 5 to 7 p.m. The funeral service will be held at 10 a.m. Monday, January 25 at University Lutheran Church, which is located at 1020 South Harrison Road in East Lansing. A graveside burial will follow at Evergreen Cemetery on the corner of Mount Hope and Aurelius roads. Will retired from MSU in 2002 and has been active in his retirement writing his column for Greenhouse Grower, “One to Grow On,” and consulting for growers. He launched Greenhouse Grower more than 25 years ago with […]

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January 20, 2010

A Tribute To Will

Dick Meister, who launched Greenhouse Grower magazine with Will Carlson more than 25 years ago, remembers Will as a friend and colleague who inspired countless growers over the years: 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 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 […]

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January 19, 2010

McGuiness Receives Todd Bachman Award

Patrick McGuiness, founder of the Zlimen & McGuiness law firm serving the green industry, is the recipient of the Todd Bachman Award for Innovation in Horticultural Business. The award is presented jointly by the University of Minnesota, the Minnesota Nursery & Landscape Association (MNLA) and the MNLA Foundation. The award annually recognizes an individual whose innovation in private enterprise has positively influenced one or more green industry businesses in the region. McGuiness began his career in the green industry in 1995 as a laborer for a small St. Paul landscaping company. His love of the industry continued as he founded his first company, which he called McGuiness Landscaping. The profits from this company helped McGuiness put himself through college and law school. Following graduation from the William Mitchell College of Law, he and a friend founded One Call Property Care. While founding this business, McGuiness noticed an opportunity to help […]

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