August 31, 2010

Long Rejoins Hortica

Hortica Insurance & Employee Benefits has announced the appointment of Ron Long as a senior account executive serving Connecticut, Rhode Island, New Hampshire and Western Massachusetts. He will work out of Hortica’s New England sales office, located in Charlton, Mass. Long has been in the insurance industry for 22 years. His professional insurance designations include Certified Insurance Counselor and Certified Risk Manager. Long previously worked for Hortica from 1992 to 2000. Most recently he worked for Massachusetts-based agency Corcoran and Havlin Insurance. He graduated from Westfield State College with a bachelor’s degree in Business. Long resides in Hopkinton, Mass., with his wife and two sons.

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August 25, 2010

Perspective: Vicki Stamback, Association Of Specialty Cut Flower Growers

From dahlias, freesias and snapdragons to dianthus, tuberoses and zinnias, Vicki Stamback grows about 150 items at Bear Creek Farms, the 12-acre operation of which she is president. Bear Creek primarily serves retail florists with cut flowers, and a number of items are produced in Stamback’s seven 30-by-96-foot greenhouses. In addition to being Bear Creek’s president, Stamback is president of the Association of Specialty Cut Flower Growers (ASCFG). As ASCFG president, Stamback has a unique perspective on the cut flower market, developing trends within it and potential opportunities for her association’s thousands of members. She recently discussed all things cut flowers with us. GG: What’s your impression of the cut flower market these days? VS: I think the cut flower market is still strong. It’s probably not as strong as it was just a couple years ago, but it’s strong. If you are approaching your customers with the right attitude […]

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August 23, 2010

Transportation: The Upside To Leasing

Back on New Year’s Day in 1954, families first turned on their TV sets to usher in a new era: color television. As viewers watched that first coast-to-coast color broadcast–telecasting the Tournament of Roses parade on NBC–it set the stage for modern TV. During that same year, Larson and Nuria Everett were seeing beautiful colors of their own, including the color green. In San Antonio, the couple founded Continental Floral Greens. It was a business designed to be a gateway for Latin American greenery to the U.S. floral market. Today, the company is still going strong, and like color TV, it has evolved into a high-tech business that had more than $45 million in revenue in 2009. The company has since expanded to include international operations. After 50-plus years, Continental Floral Greens remains a family affair. The 86-year-old founder is still active and serving as an advisor. Sons Jerome and […]

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August 3, 2010

Esbenshade’s Greenhouses: A Realistic Approach

Like other operations, Esbenshade’s had its share of growth over the years. Roger’s father, Lamar, founded the business more than 50 years ago as a small grower-retail business that successfully developed into a Southeast Pennsylvania midsized wholesale operation with three garden centers of its own today. Today’s industry, however, is vastly different than the one Lamar entered more than a half century ago. Yes, Esbenshade’s has strong customer relationships with independent retailers in its region, and its garden center stores are good sources for the operation’s decision makers. But the fact, Roger says, is there really aren’t new sales to be had. Instead, success is better measured by market share, and the growers regularly expanding their operations are simply taking market share from others. “I feel the industry has matured a lot,” says Roger, who serves as Esbenshade’s production manager. “We’ve refocused a little bit on trying to do a […]

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July 27, 2010

Don’t You Just Hate Those Big Boxes?

It is clear to me that consumers are willing to open their wallets only when they feel we bring them good value and continually introduce new and interesting products that increase their chances of success. Whether consumers are shopping at big box stores or a local nursery with just one location, our goal should be to keep them buying more and make them more successful while bringing a new generation into the world of outdoor living. Some members of the industry like to degrade the big boxes as less-than-legitimate purveyors of green goods. Some have not been able to see the evolution of the industry as a positive and would be happy if we returned to the days of limited distribution and little to no price competition. The big boxes admittedly have brought major changes to the industry that have changed the way we all do business. Let’s not forget […]

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July 22, 2010

Five Proven Ways To Grow Sales

Jon Goldman, president of Brand Launcher, will present on five proven ways to grows sales November 4 at the Northeast Greenhouse Conference and Expo in Worcester, Mass. According to Goldman, “me-too” marketing won’t cut it in for industry. To stand out and get noticed by the right kind of customers, Goldman suggests growers need powerful, proven marketing. In his November 4 session, Goldman will share five out-of-the-box marketing strategies for growers, garden center managers and landscapers to get the phones ringing and boost sales–without breaking the bank. Attendees can expect to learn:   – The costliest mistake most landscapers make in promoting their services. – How to target your message by pinpointing your “hungry fish.” – How to create powerful offers for your services using “irresistible bait.” – How to use easy tools to attract new customers–and keep your existing ones. – The single most powerful word you should use. – The “kiss of death” for […]

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July 14, 2010

Pricing And The Supply Chain

Stan Pohmer of the Pohmer Consulting Group, Texas A&M’s Charlie Hall and Ball’s Marvin Miller held three sessions at Short Course on Soul Searching & Marketing In Today’s Challenging Marketplace, getting into some of the big picture issues and industry philosophy going forward. Here are some of their thoughts:  Contract growing. The expansion boom of box stores and mass merchandisers of the late 1990s has slowed down considerably, says Pohmer. Sweet real estate spots are taken, so these stores are now focusing on organic growth—making existing stores more successful and profitable. They don’t need the number of suppliers they once did, but they need a robust product offering, leading to the rise of the contract grower. Competitive pricing and marketing. The differences between big box and independent garden centers has changed over the last few years, and it’s worth taking a look at the differences. Miller says that in the markets […]

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July 11, 2010

So Much For Wind Turbine Sound

One of the biggest knocks against wind turbines is they make too much noise. Another knock, mostly from environmentalists, is that turbines exterminate birds that fly into their path. But VQ Wind, a Santa Clara, Calif.-based company working with Private Garden, has found a possible solution. It is offering a turbine called the VQ WindJet that’s designed for industrial, agricultural, commercial, municipal and residential use. Only one or two VQ WindJets are being used in the United States right now–the turbine is actually a product that originated in South Korea–but the company, VQ Wind, is at the OFA trade show to introduce the product to greenhouse growers. The wind turbine achieves virtually no sound, Vice President of Business Development Malcolm Davies says, because it rotates at less than 10 percent of the speed most turbines turn. Learn more about the VQ WindJet at Learn more about Private Garden at […]

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June 29, 2010

Putting Plants First

A number of marketing programs have come and gone the last 10 years, but the ones that are still around are tied to specific plants that perform. The classic example is Wave petunias and the spinoff series–Tidal Wave, Shock Wave, Double Wave and Easy Wave. If the original ‘Purple Wave’ didn’t offer performance that was dramatically different from a traditional seed petunia, the entire marketing program would not be possible. It would not have caught on. Slapping a clever name on an ordinary plant won’t work if it doesn’t mean anything. You can fool the consumer once but not twice. Repeat purchases are what make brands successful and establish a following. The same is true with Knock Out roses. Superior performance and growing ease made them a hit with consumers and landscapers. As I drive around, I never cease to be amazed at how widely used they are. They have […]

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June 18, 2010

Breaking Down Our Economy

As I am writing this, Mother’s Day weekend has come to a close and we are in the midst of a strong lawn and gardening spring season. Indications across the country have pointed to robust sales, albeit some regions have experienced stronger sales than others. I would anticipate with the weather patterns evidenced this year, summer may even surprise us. Of course, fall is our next biggest time of the year and as long as weather cooperates, the other major influencing factor is the economy. The good news is the economy continues to show signs of recovery. Real GDP grew at a 3.2 percent annual rate in the first quarter this year, as strong growth in consumer spending and inventory rebuilding contributed to the bulk of the improvement during the quarter. Business investment was supported by equipment and software spending, but investment in structures continues to lag. Government outlays were […]

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June 18, 2010

Perspective: Steve Cissel On Technology

Steve Cissel has been on a journey to aggregate plant information to consumers since 1998, when he founded Green Industry Online. Green Industry Online became Green Industry Yellow Pages in 2001, and it expanded into 10-20 Media three years ago. Today, Cissel serves as CEO of 10-20 Media, and he’s a creator of GardenPilot, the research tool for iPhones and iPads that features illustrated plant information pages where consumers can access information. Cissel offers a unique perspective on Internet marketing and its potential for growers. GG: You recently told us the demand for mobile media exposes a weakness in the greenhouse floriculture industry–its fragmentation–and a simple example you used is the fact that plants have Latin names, nicknames, potentially more than one common name and different names in different regions. Although mobile media exposes a weakness, what opportunities does it offer growers, breeders and others to simplify gardening to consumers? […]

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May 25, 2010

Modeling Greenhouse Efficiency Virtually

When you’re comparing structures and coverings, wouldn’t it be great to know which styles and materials will perform best for you before you make a change or start to build? USDA’s free Virtual Grower software program allows you to do that by analyzing the efficiencies of your current structures and constructing models for new ones–all from the comfort of your office. The idea began in 2003, when plant physiologist Jonathan Frantz joined USDA’s Agriculture Research Service at the University of Toledo in Ohio. His background was in vegetable crops and he started asking local flower growers how they make decisions related to the greenhouse environment–light, temperature and air movement. With energy efficiency becoming a top concern, Frantz and programmers Bryon Hand and Lee Buckingham set out to develop computer-generated models that would help growers make informed decisions that directly impact energy consumption. The model allows growers to compare styles of […]

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