April 14, 2011

Akro-Mils Creating A ‘Greener’ Workplace

Akro-Mils, a Myers Industries company, has invested in several energy-saving initiatives for its main plant in Wadsworth, Ohio. New overhead lighting fixtures and electric injection-molding machinery are helping Akro-Mils not only promote an eco-friendly workplace, but also lower costs and improve safety and quality. Based in Akron, Ohio, Akro-Mils is a North American leader in plastic storage bins and organization containers, shelving systems and mobile material handling products. “This is a major undertaking for our Wadsworth plant. We’re excited knowing the outcome will have a positive impact on the environment, as well as increasing the level of efficiency in which our products are created,” says Jeff Gervais, general manager of Akro-Mils. “Akro-Mils is known for providing state-of-the-art plastic products to our customers, so updating our facility and machinery further enhances our pledge to be the best provider of storage and organization container solutions in the industry.” For many years, the […]

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March 17, 2011

Minimizing Freight Claim Headaches

As a grower, you know it can take months or even years to produce a finished product. You put tireless hours, hard-earned money and personal pride into growing products that please your clients. And how unpleasant it is when you get that phone call from one of them reporting a claim on those products. You want nothing more than to make sure your client is happy, yet you know you must minimize your out-of-pocket costs, especially when it comes to claims. The question is then: How do you mitigate most of these claims up front and handle them professionally when they do occur? The answer is to have a claims process in place before you ever load your product on a truck. The two basic components of that process are communication and documentation. If you use your own drivers and local delivery trucks, you have much more control over the […]

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March 6, 2011

2D Bar Code Webinar Set For March 15

Register now for our webinar: Smart Marketing: 2D Bar Codes For Garden Retail, sponsored by SATO and GrowTech Solutions. Everyone is talking about QR Codes and MS Tags–and with good reason. 2D tags for smart phones are one of the hottest new technologies you’ll be seeing in garden retail–and everywhere else–this spring. How can you use this tool to help you make money for your greenhouse operation or garden center business? In this webinar, you’ll learn: – Why 2D tags matter to retailers and growers. – How to integrate the codes into traditional marketing campaigns from direct mail to in-store signage to advertisements. – Real-world experiences with 2D tags and ideas you can use in your own operation. The speakers for this webinar are Kyle Lacy, social media consultant & principal at MindFrame; and John R. Morgan Technologist, Bob’s Market & Greenhouses, Inc. Register now for our webinar: Smart Marketing: 2D […]

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February 15, 2011

Home Depot To Hire 60,000 For Spring Black Friday

Home Depot announced Tuesday it would hire more than 60,000 additional seasonal workers in time for its Spring Black Friday events. Those events are based on the start of the spring season in each market and will roll out during four different weekends in spring. The hirings will occur during February and March. Also, Home Depot will be adding new full-time and part-time positions for the second year in a row. “As we have stated in the past, spring is our Christmas and traffic is at its highest during this season,” says Craig Menear, executive vice president for merchandising, in a statement released Tuesday. “Hiring seasonal associates and offering door-busting deals will ensure our customers have all of the service, know-how and value they need as they look to take on outdoor projects to improve the appearance of their home.” During Spring Black Friday, Home Depot will “significantly” reduce prices […]

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February 2, 2011

Svensson Energy Screen Designed For More Energy, Savings

A new energy screen from Svensson gives growers the power to enhance crop quality by reducing condensation formation and increasing light transmission. The new XLS 10 Ultra Revolux with H2no technology reduces the formation of condensation droplets, which act as mirrors that reflect light and reduce light transmission in the greenhouse. With H2no, water on the screen instead forms a thin, transparent film that is wicked away into the screen’s yarn structure. The result is a considerable increase in light transmission – up to 10 according to Svensson – compared to an untreated screen. More light promotes photosynthesis during dull periods and more energy savings, as screening hours can be increased. “The XLS 10 Ultra Revolux with new H2no technology is ideal for saving energy, night and day,” says Kurt Parbst, president of Svensson’s North and South American subsidiary. “It allows higher light transmission under typical or real greenhouse conditions […]

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February 2, 2011

Midwest Groundcovers Purchases Native Plant Nursery

Midwest Groundcovers, a wholesale nursery headquartered in St. Charles, Ill., has purchased neighboring specialty native plant nursery, The Natural Garden, Inc. The acquisition will increase Midwest’s native plant inventory and will give Midwest customers access to a diverse array of local eco-type native plants. Midwest and The Natural Garden are working together to ensure a seamless transition for customers and a smooth changeover for employees. Midwest will continue native plant nursery production at The Natural Garden nursery site in St. Charles but will transition to sell primarily Natural Garden Natives through Midwest Groundcovers. Natural Garden Natives will be the regional eco-type specific native plants originating from The Natural Garden stock plants and seed beds; these plants were originally collected in the 1970s and 1980s, primarily in Kane County, but no further than 90 miles from the St. Charles nursery site. Together with these new specialty native plant offerings, customers will […]

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January 25, 2011

Iwasaki Brothers Is Energized & Dollar Wise

Oregon growers are lucky they have a state government that makes it attractive to invest in alternative energy systems, essentially cutting the time to recoup the investment in half. An energy project that pays for itself in less than three years is a no-brainer. Iwasaki Brothers in Hillsboro used Energy Trust Oregon (ETO) incentives to reimburse the costs of energy curtains in its newest greenhouse a few years ago and to install a 665-panel solar electric system in 2009. Leaving no stone unturned, the company also explores options with utility companies. Just switching from a firm natural gas rate to an interruptible rate saved enough to pay for a machine that converts propane to behave like natural gas in a backup situation. The fourth-generation family business owned by Jim Iwasaki is one of the leading bedding plant growers in the Northwest. He and Operations Manager Steve Ussery are always looking […]

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January 24, 2011

Inviting Buyers Into Your Greenhouse

Clearwater Nursery serves major grocery store chains, including Kroger, Supervalu and Stater Bros., and get-togethers between Clearwater and its retail customers are no different than most grower-retailer meetings. “Normally, we meet at trade shows,” says Steven Medeiros, Clearwater’s marketing executive. “From there, we have meetings at their corporate locations with presentation material that’s basically just paper and sample product.” Last year, though, Clearwater’s Peter Hesse and Guy Miel developed the idea of inviting its existing buyers–and potential buyers–to a special event at their greenhouses in Nipomo, Calif. Using a traditional mum and poinsettia trial as the core draw, Hesse and Miel invited vendors like Aris Horticulture, Ball Horticultural Co., and Temkin International to exhibit their products on site, where interested retail buyers could make appointments to meet with them between Nov. 30 and Dec. 3. Four poinsettia breeders–Dömmen, Ecke Ranch, Selecta First Class and Syngenta Flowers–were invited to showcase their […]

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January 19, 2011

In Poinsettias, It’s How You Sell, Not What You Sell

Poinsettias looked as good at retail as I have seen in recent years, demonstrating great plant quality and some real consumer value. Take, for example, the 8-inch poinsettia produced by Mid-American Growers retailing at a Chicago Walmart for an amazing $10 value. Poinsettias at other retailers were, for the most part, above average in quality and even a good consumer value. With so many reds on the market, it is difficult to discern which varieties stand out. Fortunately, while I was at Tagawa Garden Center, a Denver retailer that sells poinsettias by variety, I noticed ‘Premium Red’ stood out as very bright and as one of the most attractive reds. I also spotted a number of ‘Premium Red’ at Lowe’s in Northern Wisconsin, which looked good in natural light and under in-store lighting. Colors & Varieties Now that it is clear product quality is improving, what about selection? Although red […]

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January 19, 2011

Get Your Fair Share

The solar energy systems Blooming Nursery and Iwasaki Brothers put in are inspiring and the returns are really attractive. While they’re located in Portland, a progressive metro area, you don’t have to live in Oregon to take advantage of a wealth of state and federal grants and incentives to dramatically improve your energy efficiency or switch to renewable fuels. Now is the time to explore funding programs. The most common energy efficiency projects for growers are lighting upgrades, energy curtain systems and new heating systems. Many utility companies offer incentives and assistance because 30 of 50 states have renewable portfolio standards that require energy providers to draw a percentage of their energy from renewable sources. A number of states also set aside federal American Recovery and Reinvestment Act money for programs that help businesses invest in energy systems, too. One easy-to-use, comprehensive source of information on state, local, utility and […]

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December 22, 2010

State Of The Industry: 2011 Economic Outlook

The recovery remained lackluster in the third and fourth quarters of 2010, with GDP (gross domestic product) growth coming in at around 2.0 percent. We should, however, start to see the economy begin to reaccelerate in 2011. Consumer spending is expected to regain momentum as long as the increases in employment that are expected actually come into fruition. Housing should start to respond to record-low rates and exports and equipment spending are expected to remain strong. On net, real GDP is forecast to rise 2.5 percent in the first quarter and move back into the 3 percent range in the second quarter. Again, as I have said before, this will be a slow recovery but hopefully a smarter recovery this time around. Two Lifestyles During Recession One very interesting outcome of the Great Recession is that it has divided America into two groups that are roughly the same size yet […]

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December 22, 2010

Perspective: Barry Sturdivant, Bank Of The West

What’s the best way to describe the financial health of the commercial greenhouse industry these days? According to Bank of the West’s Barry Sturdivant, our industry’s financial health as a whole is “very good.” At Bank of the West, the country’s third-largest bank for agricultural production, Sturdivant has seen just about every agricultural commodity encounter stress over the last two years. But the commercial greenhouse industry, perhaps to your surprise, has been a bright spot–at least for the bank. In fact, Bank of the West has identified greenhouse operations as a key area for expected growth this year. Recently, we caught up with Sturdivant to get his perspective on how greenhouse growers are faring compared to nursery producers, what he expects for our industry in 2011 and more. GG: How does the greenhouse industry’s financial health compare to the state of the nursery industry’s? BS: For the past few years, […]

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