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 […]

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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. […]

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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 […]

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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 […]

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April 5, 2010

San Diego Event Focuses On Strategies

The HortSmart Trade Fair, held June 2-3 at the South Coast Winery Resort & Spa, is a new educational summit and product showcase geared for horticultural business owners. The educational program features nationally acclaimed speakers, industry professionals and educators. Among them are Greenhouse Grower’s Delilah Onofrey, national marketing consultant Gary Hudson, Armstrong Garden Center’s Gary Jones and Takao Nursery’s Lisa Takao. For more information about the event, visit FlowerAndPlant.org/HortSmart.

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March 30, 2010

Walmart’s Supplier Sustainability Assessment

Walmart plans to develop a Sustainability Index that measures the sustainability of every product it sells. One of the first steps Walmart took toward in the index was aking all vendors 15 questions about their sustainability. The questions, divided into four categories, are as follows: Energy & Climate: Reducing Energy Costs and Greenhouse Gas Emissions 1. Have you measured your corporate greenhouse gas emissions? 2. Have you opted to report your greenhouse gas emissions to the Carbon Disclosure Project (CDP)?  3. What is your total annual greenhouse gas emissions reported in the most recent year measured? 4. Have you set publicly available greenhouse gas reduction targets? If yes, what are those targets? Material Efficiency: Reducing Waste & Enhancing Quality 5. If measured, please report the total amount of solid waste generated from the facilities that produce your product(s) for Walmart for the most recent year measured. 6. Have you set publicly available solid waste […]

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March 29, 2010

The Perennial Farm: Walking In Their Shoes

Realizing quality plants are only the entry point, The Perennial Farm in Glen Arm, Md., delights in raising the bar by out-servicing and out-marketing the competition. In fact, owner Rick Watson takes pride in being what he calls the price-value leader and explains what that means. “We’re not always the cheapest in town but we are the price-value leader,” he says. “For what you pay and what you get, we consider ourselves the best. Selling plants cheaply is easy. Getting value for your product takes talent. Value is not always the cheapest price.” Watson knows his customers’ needs, because he used to be on the receiving end buying plants from growers. He grew up in his family’s retail business, Watson’s Garden Center, still located in Towson, Md. After graduating from the University of Maryland with a horticulture degree and focus on garden center management, he and a partner started Exterior […]

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March 24, 2010

Benchmarking: Employee And Management Assessment

Slides go here.  To download this presentation, click on the Menu button. 

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March 23, 2010

Reasons For Optimism

Unbelieveable. That’s the best way to describe some of the events that have occurred since my last column. The Massachusetts special election has rocked the political world and profoundly affected the prospects for health reform just when it looked like passage was a lock. Efforts are under way to put health reform legislation together again on Capitol Hill, but it will look dramatically different than the version proposed by either the House or Senate. All of this goes to show the one thing that is certain in politics is uncertainty. Unfortunately, that uncertainty carries over into the marketplace and affects the confidence of businesses and industries, sometimes to the point that the level of business investment is hindered – which is precisely the situation we have found ourselves in recent months. However, heading into spring, several of the leading business confidence indicators reflect a more optimistic mindset on the part […]

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March 2, 2010

Walmart: The New Green Giant?

Walmart announced last week it plans to eliminate 20 million metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions from its global supply chain by the end of 2015. The 20 million metric tons represent 1.5 times the company’s estimated global carbon footprint growth over the next five years, and it’s the equivalent of taking more than 3.8 million cars off the road for a year. The initiative is one of several environmental initiatives Walmart has launched in recent years. Considering all the initiatives, USA Today recently explored whether Walmart is the “new green giant” in the United States. USA Today mainly reacted to reports other news sources produced in its own report. For example, in response to the greenhouse gas emissions initiative, Miguel Bustillo of The Wall Street Journal, writes: “Walmart will make its suppliers do the dirty work of reducing the carbon footprints of their supply chains.” If Walmart plans to […]

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February 19, 2010

Boosting Your Bottom Line: Benchmark Analysis

The Great Recession, as Charlie Hall refers to our economy the last two years, led to great structural changes in our industry. Fewer growers are operating businesses today than they were two years ago, and the ones still standing–particularly the ones thriving financially–have one thing in common: They benchmark their performance. “There are a number of folks who were in business a couple years ago who aren’t here with us today,” says Hall, holder of the Ellison Chair in International Floriculture at Texas A&M University. “There are many reasons for that, but by and large, many of those growers did not go through benchmarking efforts.” Benchmarking is one way the highest performers in our industry have survived the Great Recession. But in addition to benchmarking, successful growers are analyzing their resources and capabilities to determine competitive advantages while also tearing apart the value chain and reengineering it to reduce costs […]

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February 16, 2010

Walmart’s Strict Delivery Deadlines

Walmart suppliers will now face stiffer penalties if they repeatedly miss the retailer’s newly designated four-day delivery window. As of February 1, Walmart suppliers will face stiff penalties if their merchandise does not reach Walmart warehouses Normal 0 false false false MicrosoftInternetExplorer4 – its U.S. distribution centers Normal 0 false false false MicrosoftInternetExplorer4 – within the newly designated four-day delivery window, Reuters reports. “Those suppliers which have an ongoing record of missing this designated four-day delivery window, they’ll have 3 percent of the cost of goods deducted from the invoices for each delivery that doesn’t arrive on time Normal 0 false false false MicrosoftInternetExplorer4 – whether it’s too early or late,” says Walmart’s Dan Fogelman. “This helps ensure the steady flow of freight through the system so that stores are stocked appropriately. At the same time you’re not warehousing a lot of things and handling them at multiple times.” Walmart […]

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