September 4, 2009

Walmart Launches Massive Online Marketplace

With the launch of the Walmart Marketplace, Walmart.com adds one million new items to its online product selection, significantly expanding its online product selection. The Walmart Marketplace gives a select group of retailers the opportunity to offer their products on Walmart.com, according to a recently released Walmart press release. The addition of these retailers and their product lines will be found in categories ranging from Home (which includes Gardening and Outdoor Furniture), Baby Apparel, Toys and Sporting Goods. Current Walmart Marketplace retailers include: CSN Stores, eBags and Pro Team. “Working with select retailers, known for their strong customer service and large online assortments of new merchandise, gives our customer more reasons to choose Walmart.com when shopping online,” says Kerry Cooper, Walmart.com chief marketing officer. To read more about Walmart’s expanding online efforts, read the entire press release.

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September 2, 2009

Interstate Transport Ranked On Inc. Magazine List

Interstate is the fastest growing private company in the Logistics and Transportation category in Florida by Inc. Magazine. The magazine has ranks America’s fastest growing private companies with its Inc. 500/5000 annual list for 2009. Interstate is ranked the 17th fastest growing among all Logistics and Transportation companies nationwide. This year, Interstate and its software division, InMotion Global, were privileged to make Inbound Logistics Magazine’s list of Top 100 Logistics IT Providers. Interstate’s co-founder and Executive Vice-President, Gloria Higham said, “It is truly exciting to rank so highly and win growth awards in this difficult economic environment. As the more leveraged competitors in the logistics and transportation industry have suffered, Interstate has been able to grow and expand due to our debt-free business model. Furthermore, our strong cash position allows us to capitalize on the continuing growth in consumer spending and the resulting increase in the shipments of consumer goods.” […]

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September 1, 2009

What Goes Around Comes Around

My wife’s mother often used the statement in the headline to indicate what you did in the past will come around to haunt you in the future. She was one of the kindest and most considerate people I have ever met. She worked hard, took care of her home, was a great cook and would never say a bad word about anyone. Some people were less than kind to her, but she would always say, “What goes around will come around.” I’ve thought about her and her saying, and in the last couple of months, I’ve come to the conclusion: “Here we go again.” In the last two to three weeks, I have read 20 to 30 business and management magazines, listened to television news and even checked the Internet to determine what the feeling is regarding our business position. Most now acknowledge we are in a recession. With 10 […]

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August 5, 2009

Oregon Governor Backs Growers On Tax Proposal

According to a Hillsboro Argus story, the Oregon Association of Nurseries and its members are grateful Gov. Ted Kulongoski signed a bill protecting nurseries against the threat of an unfair new property tax. “Many of our growers are relieved they won’t be subjected to an additional property tax assessment against hoop houses, which are temporary structures used to protect plants and extend the growing season,” says Jeff Stone, government relations director for the Oregon Association of Nurseries. “When the state Department of Revenue proposed taxing hoop houses as if they were permanent structures, our members said it was unacceptable.” Oregon’s Department of Revenue proposed new rulemaking earlier this year that would have assessed nurseries for the value of hoop houses. To read the full Hillsboro Argus story, click here.

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August 1, 2009

Mutual Marketing

Putting together a cooperative marketing message for the floriculture industry as a whole has proven to be a challenge over the years. But taken in smaller bites, growers and retailers have seen some real gains by working together on local, regional, and even statewide projects. Here’s a quick look at three new group projects that have been successful so far in 2009. Local: Passport 2 Plants Gilson Gardens, Martin’s Nursery, Middle Ridge Gardens and Sabo’s Woodside Nursery & Garden Center are friendly competitors. When a customer shows up looking for a special plant that one of the businesses doesn’t offer, the staff is quick to send them to one of the others that can help. “I don’t look at them as competitors,” says Sabo’s owner Brian Sabo. “I think of them as colleagues.” In fact, these four Northeast Ohio businesses took that cooperative relationship to the next level this spring, […]

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July 22, 2009

MPS Certifies First U.S. Grower

An MPS-ABC sustainability certificate was awarded to a North American grower for the first time last week, when D.S. Cole Growers in Loudon, N.H., earned the distinction. MPS is active in more than 50 countries. U.S. greenhouse growers began expressing interest in MPS certification last summer, when a group of companies started with registration for MPS-ABC certification. MPS-ABC works like a rating scale, indicating the level of sustainability of your operation’s management. The rating scale goes from 0 to 100 points, and a company’s score is determined four times a year based on its use of fertilizers, energy and pesticides, and its management of waste. In some countries, water use is also taken into account. The total usage of a company is compared to requirements and standards. Companies with lowest usage are rated highest. “The MPS-ABC certificate is a very valuable management tool,” says Doug Cole, president. “MPS-ABC works like […]

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July 21, 2009

Walmart Introduces Eco-Ratings

Walmart is embarking on a three-phase plan called the sustainable product index that will impact all Walmart stores and suppliers. With the world’s population increasing and natural resources decreasing, Walmart recognizes its customers demand better, responsibly produced products. Walmart’s index will highlight product efficiency, which includes product longevity, performance and how it was produced. Phase one begins with a 15-question survey created by Walmart and sent out to more than 100,000 of its suppliers. It will be used to determine just how sustainable the mass merchandiser’s suppliers already are. Phase two will involve the cooperation of universities, retailers, suppliers and other third-party committees. These groups will work together to create a single database. The database will eventually cover the lifecycle of every product sold at Walmart. Lastly, phase three will use the index formed in phase two and create a rating system. The ratings will be added to the products […]

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July 21, 2009

Singing Over Spring?

Was spring a success or a failure for your greenhouse operation this year? Your answer, of course, depends on your definition of “success” and the goals you set for your operation months ago. Did you have your sights set on sales increases of 10 percent over 2008? Five percent? Perhaps your goal simply was to survive the season and ride out the recession so you’d be in position to give spring yet another shot in 2010. However you define success, the growers who took our Industry Pulse Follow-Up survey in June tend to agree Spring 2009 was a good one. Eighty-six percent of survey respondents called spring a success for their business this year. Only 14 defined it as a failure. So what made spring a success for so many? Many respondents attribute their success to the boom in herbs and vegetables. Among those who grew them this spring, 34 […]

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July 20, 2009

In His Words: Jason Parks On Spring At Retail

Every year when spring is over, I like to pick a market and visit our customers there to see how their spring went and to get a feel for what they expect next year to be like. For growers it is critical that we spend time talking to our customers to determine what is really important to them. Recently, I made a trip up north and visited nine garden centers. Some of the garden centers were already customers of ours; some say they will be next year, and some are not and probably will never be. The market I visited has a combined metropolitan area population of 782,000 people, and a median household income of $47,193 (2004) for the main population county. All the garden centers I visited reported having a good, bordering on great, spring. As usual we were able to talk more with the ones we already had […]

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July 20, 2009

Just Ask To Sell More

I met a new friend who works in the rubber industry as a sales manager. He is a great guy who is deeply involved in that industry, as well as with his church and the Michigan State University (MSU) community. His wife is also involved with MSU activities as a Master Gardener and volunteers as a docent in the 4-H Children’s Garden. They are both active in the music department and athletic department at MSU. They attend all hockey, football, men’s and women’s basketball games, and so on. They are really true Spartans! The couple also is active in the community and their neighborhood where my friend’s wife serves as treasurer of the homeowners’ association. I enjoy observing all the activities they are involved in and seeing how happy they are! An Outsider’s View Recently, I asked my friend to take a look at our industry. From the information I […]

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July 14, 2009

7-Eleven Calls Credit Processing Fees ‘Excessive’

7-Eleven Inc. is trying to solicit 1 million signatures from customers for a petition calling for Congress to change credit card processing fees. Company officials call the transaction fees, charged each time a card is swiped, “unfair and excessive,” according to a story in the Dallas Morning News. “The card companies merely pick a rate and then they charge away–no notice, no discussion,” says Keith Jones, a 7-Eleven lobbyist, in the story. “In fact, we rarely know before we start paying higher fees that the card companies have new rates.” The rates hit operations like convenience stores the hardest because the rate at which consumers are using credit and debit cards is increasing, but sometimes the purchases are for small dollar amounts, resulting in a loss at times for retailers. 7-Eleven alone, with 6,300 stores in the U.S., paid $160 million to credit card companies last year. It’s working with […]

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