September 28, 2010

Change Is The Only Constant

The most difficult task for any columnist is to project, due to publishing deadlines, what the major industry-related issues will be and what readers will be interested in three months down the road. But one would literally have their head in the sand not to recognize that the upcoming elections in November will be one of the issues causing the buzz when this issue hits the streets. Everyone already knows the 2010 elections are significant and competitive. Let’s add record-setting to that description. Why? – 2010 features the most U.S. Senate seats on the November ballot (37) since 1962. – 2010 also has the most elections for governor ever on the same ballot (also 37). – 2010 has produced one of the highest percentages of Democratic-versus-Republican House lineups in modern history. Fully 405 of 435 House races have both a Democrat and a Republican running for the seat. Democrats have […]

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September 28, 2010

Trucking Concerns

If you think your distribution costs are high now, just wait until new government regulations become effective later this year! What? You didn’t hear? I love the free market. I love it when barriers to enter a market are low, and the most cost-savvy companies offer the most competitive rates. Competition in the marketplace goes a long way toward keeping the prices of goods and services contained. When the free enterprise system is allowed to operate with minimal interference, consumers benefit. Unfortunately, government regulations will soon be imposed that may constrain the free market that most of us hold dear. The regulations may eliminate much of the competition that keeps trucking healthy. The issue at hand is the government’s desire to place new standards on truck drivers and trucking companies. While safety is important to all of us in the industry, the regulations may have some unintended economic effects on […]

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September 23, 2010

Finding Passion In Portland

If you ever go to the Farwest Show in Portland, Ore., be sure to take some side trips in the area before and after the show. In the three days I was out there, I visited three growers, two retailers, two breeders and took in some fun and funky tourist attractions. Here are the highlights of places that really stood out with distinct niches that set themselves apart from all competitors: Voodoo Doughnuts – Doughnuts have been around forever, make us fat and have been commoditized by chains, but this place dares to be different as the edgy mad scientist laboratory for doughnuts. Toppings include Captain Crunch and Fruit Loops Cereal, bacon strips on maple icing, M&M’s, bubble gum, even lemonade, Tang and iced tea granules. The signature Voodoo Doll doughnut is a screaming, chocolate iced monster/person with a tiny pretzel stake in its heart. Saturday night, there was a […]

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September 21, 2010

Matterhorn Reorganizes, Will Stay Open

The owners of Matterhorn Nursery in Spring Valley, N.Y., filed for Chapter 11 Bankruptcy Sept. 10 in Southern District of New York U.S. Bankruptcy Court. The 38-acre garden center, landscape and grower operation will remain open and work through the reorganization, says Ronnie Horn, who co-owns the business with her husband, Matt Horn. The Horns filed for the reorganization after a nearby town, Ramapo, pulled out of purchasing 15 acres of unused land from the nursery owners in early September. Ronnie Horn said Monday the collapse of the deal was a shock to them, because it had been in the works for more than two years. They had a letter of intent on the deal as late as July of this year. The Horns had been proactive about planning a renovation project to become a more sustainable business, which included green roofs, solar panels, a bio-mass boiler and other environmentally […]

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September 7, 2010 Partners On Mobile App

Online retailer has joined forces with mobile commerce solutions provider Firethorn Holdings on its soon-to-be-released SWAGG mobile application. SWAGG, which will launch just before the holiday season, gives consumers the ability to purchase, personalize and exchange gift cards directly from a mobile device. "SWAGG will make consumers more resourceful and efficient by allowing them to give and get gift cards, receive personalized offers that they want, and keep them up-to-date with their loyalty programs – all from their mobile device," said Chip Fishburne, vice president of financial and merchant services at Firethorn Holdings. "Our collaboration with will bring consumers who live and transact in the mobile world the convenience of ordering right from their mobile device. The SWAGG mobile application will provide customers with a rewarding experience as they will be able to shop and purchase anytime, anywhere with the latest offers." SWAGG will also provide customers […]

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September 2, 2010

HortiMax CropView Keeps An Eye On Crops 24/7

HortiMaX CropView integrates high-resolution digital photography with HortiMaX climate computer technology to help growers keep a closer eye on their crops. The CropView camera takes both overall and detailed photographic images of a crop and stores these, enabling growers to view current and past images of crop responses in detail. HortiMaX CropView uses Nikon cameras that continuously send high resolution photographs to the computer’s memory, which growers can then play forward or back (zoomed in or out) in rapid succession, creating a film of crop responses. Macro and wide angle lenses are optional. By playing the images like a film, CropView users are able to watch 24 hours of crop development in 30 seconds, noting condensation (promoting fungi growth), pollen or minute differences in flowering or stem size (important in rose production) are captured in perfect detail and can be analysed and corrected using synchronous graphs that are constantly updated. […]

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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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