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 […]
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 […]
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? […]
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 […]
May 24, 2010
Webinar: What Does The New Health Care Law Mean For Your Business?
Now that the health care reform bill has been passed, you need to know how your business is affected. Does the new health care law require you to offer insurance to your employees? Do you get a tax credit if you do? Will you be penalized if you don’t? How do the rules differ for companies with more or less than 50 employees? How does the insurance exchange system work? Those are just a few of the key questions attorney John Satagaj will answer during the SAF Health Care Webinar scheduled for Wednesday, May 26. The hour-long event begins at 7 p.m. Register here to reserve your place.
May 13, 2010
Benches Or Floors?
From rolling benches to Dutch tray systems to moveable containers, benching technology has improved significantly in recent years. More and more, though, it seems growers are looking to the floor as their first option for production. “It’s absolutely a trend I’m seeing,” says Bill Vietas, vice president of sales for Rough Bros. “You go to most places and you’ll see people growing on the ground again.” For Rough Bros., which sells both greenhouse structures and benches, that shift has been very apparent. “We do flood benches, rolling benches and Dutch tray benches, and we have seen a decrease in all three of those areas,” Vietas says. “Our bench sales are maybe a third of what they used to be. It’s very interesting but you just don’t see them as much anymore.” But why? “I don’t think they’re doing it because it necessarily produces a better quality product. I think the […]
May 3, 2010
Monrovia Putting Transportation Safety First
The California Trucking Association (CTA) recently honored Monrovia for its outstanding safety record on the road with the Fleet Safety Award, marking the third year in a row Monrovia has been recognized as such. According to Lee Zwahlen, head of shipping, Monrovia has one of the largest privately operated fleets of any nursery in the United States, with 17 trucks and 50 trailers. “From our 1,100-acre Visalia and Venice Hills nurseries, we delivered 2,400 trailer loads of Monrovia plants with an estimated 12,000 deliveries last year,” Zwahlen says. Safety professionals from the CTA safety staff review accident statistics of the top contenders and audit their safety programs each year. The awards program judges companies on issues such as accident frequency, personnel and hiring systems, documented safety policies and procedures, driver-safety training, internal accident handling procedures and participation in the association’s safety activities. “While Monrovia is often recognized for its high […]
April 27, 2010
How Will The Health Care Bill Affect Your Business?
Health care reform legislation signed into law by President Obama has generated lots of questions from business owners about what the new law will mean to them. “Even those people most involved in the debate have questions about how the bill will affect their businesses,” said Drew Gruenburg, chief operating officer of the Society of American Florists (SAF). “They wonder if premiums will go up or down. Who’s covered and who’s not? When does it all take effect? How will this affect their employees…family…customers? There are just so many unknowns at this point as the final regulations are being written.” To answer some of these questions and help make sense of the law’s impact on employers, SAF details the provisions most likely to affect small businesses and when those changes will start to occur. Employer Requirements Effective: Jan. 1, 2014: In the strictest sense, the law does not force employers […]
April 27, 2010
Pursuing An Energy-Efficiency Project?
The Rural Energy for America Program (REAP) unveiled its financial grant and loan guidelines earlier this week. The program is intended to promote energy efficiency and renewable energy development for rural small for-profit businesses and agricultural producers. REAP grants of up to 25 percent of the total eligible project costs are available this year, and REAP loan guarantees can help finance an additional 50 percent of eligible project costs. The maximum grant available is $500,000 for renewable energy projects and $250,000 for energy efficiency improvement projects. Projects requesting less than $20,000 will receive priority consideration this year. The deadline to apply for a REAP grant or loan this year is Wednesday, June 30 at 4:30 p.m. Applications must be in our office by that date and time to receive consideration. Applications received before June 30 may, however, be processed and funded on a competitive basis. Learn more about your’s operation’s […]
April 21, 2010
South Carolina Rescinds Strict Nursery Regulations
The California Association of Nurseries and Garden Centers (CANGC) and the Oregon Association of Nurseries (OAN) successfully resolved a federal lawsuit against South Carolina on Monday. The two associations filed a lawsuit March 10 challenging a regulation that disrupted shipments of plant material from California and Oregon growers. South Carolina chose to rescind the contested regulation rather than fight in court. Shipments of nursery products are expected to resume immediately. The suit stemmed from actions South Carolina took last year. In 2009, the South Carolina Assembly enacted a regulation that prevented California and Oregon growers from shipping plants that could be host to Phytophthora ramorum (Sudden Oak Death). The regulation required nurseries in California, Oregon and Washington to perform special inspections, provide extra documentation, and give advance notice for all shipments. Such requirements are illegal under the federal Plant Protection Act and unconstitutional under the Supremacy Clause of the U.S. […]
April 15, 2010
10 Retailer Likes And Dislikes
– It’s nice to be able to call someone’s cell phone,” says Stephen Barlow of Barlow’s Flowers in Sea Girt, N.J. Using Lloyd Traven of Peace Tree Farm as an example, “It can be 6 o’clock in the morning or 8 o’clock at night and he’ll pick up his phone.” – “Sounds funny, but we don’t have a huge place and smaller growers usually have smaller trucks – and I like that,” says Barlow. – For growers looking to earn Barlow’s or Seuberth’s business, wait until after the busy season. “They should know spring is not a good time,” says Amy Seuberth of The Farm at Green Village. Barlow says, “Stopping in on a busy, sunny day will leave a bad taste in my mouth. It shows they don’t understand my business and my situation.” – For those same growers, be sure to stop in with a sample. And remember […]
April 15, 2010
Communicating With Retailers
From video updates, off-hours contact and exclusivity, today’s retailers are expecting to work with a more proactive grower in exchange for their loyalty. Virtually Improved It’s not unusual for growers of smaller operations to wear many hats. From marketing and customer service to deliveries and growing, today’s growers are faced with days that leave little time for a coffee break or even to catch one’s breath. Lloyd Traven of Peace Tree Farm knows he is a busy guy. And rather than have his busy schedule detract from the relationships he has with retail customers, Traven chose to be proactive and hire Stephanie Whitehouse, Peace Tree Farm’s new sales and marketing manager. “I’m pretty much the go-to contact now for all our customers,” Whitehouse says. “This has helped free up time for Lloyd so he can focus on his creativity and look for new and interesting plants. I’m constantly on e-mail […]