December 3, 2008

Oregon, Washington Nursery Associations Considering Merger

Representatives from the Oregon Association of Nurseries (OAN) and the Washington State Nursery and Landscape Association (WSNLA) are having more serious discussions about a possible merger of the two associations. The two groups had discussed the idea casually for eight or nine months. A merger makes sense for the two organizations because they share similar climates, geography and population profiles. Retailers, growers and landscapers in the states face some of the same marketing challenges, and they contend with many of the same legislative and regulatory issues. If a merger does happen, an Oregon-Washington combination could result in more than 1,800 individual members. Oregonians could draw on Washington’s strength in the retail sector, and Washingtonians could benefit from Oregon’s strength in wholesale. “A merged association would provide Oregon’s retailers and landscapers a larger community of interest with Washington retailers and landscapers,” says OAN President Tom McNabb. Tom Quigley, president of WSNLA, […]

Read More

November 24, 2008

Walmart Making Wind Energy A Priority

Walmart executives have made it known they’re serious about the company operating completely by renewable energy. Last week, it took another step toward achieving that long-term goal with its commitment to purchasing and using wind power that will supply up to 15 percent of Walmart’s total energy load in about 360 Texas stores. The purchase means Walmart will avoid producing more than 139,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions per year–the equivalent of taking 25,000 cars off the road. “Walmart’s action shows that low-carbon technology is increasingly competitive and long-term sustainability is a winning business strategy,” says Andrew Aulisi, director of the markets and enterprise program at the World Resources Institute. “Walmart’s smart and innovative approach should be used more widely.” The commitment to wind energy adds to Walmart’s sustainability portfolio. Last year, Walmart announced several locations in Hawaii and California would be equipped with solar panels that help reduce […]

Read More

November 12, 2008

Wal-Mart Envisions Going Green Globally

Wal-Mart is likely to be one of the last retailers that comes to mind when you think green, but the retail giant is now demanding its suppliers live up to environmentally friendly practices and product-safety guidelines to make that vision come true. To that end, The New York Times reports Wal-Mart recently brought together more than 1,000 of its leading suppliers in Beijing to tell them that big changes were in store. All of the suppliers in Wal-Mart’s universe are soon going to be held to higher manufacturing and operations standards to “build a more environmentally and socially responsible global supply chain” at Wal-Mart. “A company that cheats on overtime and on the age of its labor, that dumps its scraps and chemicals in our rivers, that does not pay its taxes or honor its contracts, will ultimately cheat on the quality of its products. And cheating on the quality […]

Read More

November 12, 2008

Van Wingerden On Schedule Despite Summer Fire

Van Wingerden International in Mills River, N.C., held its annual poinsettia open house last weekend despite an accidental greenhouse fire Aug. 10 that had the potential to slow business dramatically. Authorities initially believed the fire was not naturally occurring and later ruled it an accident. However it occurred, Van Wingerden has managed to remain on schedule as the holiday season approaches. The operation managed to obtain replacement plants for all poinsettias that burned, owner Bert Lemkes told The Times-News. Van Wingerden currently has 380,000 6-inch poinsettias. “They never found accelerant,” Lemkes says. The fire burned the last section of one of Van Wingerden’s greenhouses and the loss totaled $2.5 million, including structure damage and the cost of the poinsettias. To read the full Times-News story, click here.

Read More

November 11, 2008

Driving Home A Point by Tim Higham

Transportation and logistics are going to get worse–a lot worse. I don’t want to paint a bleak picture, but the outlook for traditional transportation and distribution will make grown men and women cry. Why? Two major reasons: First, trucks run on oil, and oil prices are going to rise for decades to come. That’s right–decades, given the growing demand for oil from China, India, South America, Central America, Europe–everywhere. This is a fact. It won’t change no matter how much we want it to. Second is the aging population in the United States. This quantifiable fact means fewer truck drivers–a lot less. So, that was the bad news. At least we got it out of the way. Now to the good news. These challenges create opportunity as we all look for different (and better) ways to accomplish things. For example, technology that can help you manage your distribution efforts can […]

Read More

November 4, 2008

Benchrunner Relay: What About The Little Guy?

A month or so has passed, but Hines Horticulture’s bankruptcy situation is still fresh on our minds. Brian Bartels, president of Bartels Plants in West Olive, Mich., is still thinking about it as well. He expressed his concern for those companies affected by the recent development in a letter to us. I just received my October issue of Greenhouse Grower and I am a bit disappointed with the wording of the Hines bankruptcy story (page 12). After mentioning debt of as much as $500 million and assets of less than $50,000 Greenhouse Grower states “The news is certainly disappointing because Hines made strides over the last couple of years to set itself on the right course.” Excuse me did you just say a company that ran up a $499,950,000 debt over asset had made strides to set itself on the right course? You have a rather different idea of what […]

Read More

November 4, 2008

Benchrunner Relay: Don’t Blame Customers For Failures

Marketing consultant Jerry Montgomery wrote us and his network of growers and suppliers in response to the overwhelming response we received after Hines Horticulture filed for bankruptcy. Many readers commented on our website that big box stores should be to blame, but Montgomery argues the big boxes are breathing life into the industry. Here is what Montgomery wrote: In the October issue of Greenhouse Grower, Delilah Onofrey reported in her editorial “Reading Chapter 11″ (page 90) about all the comments received on www.greenhousegrower.com blaming the big boxes for the woes of a large grower whose customers are primarily big boxes. These comments also suggested these large organizations were putting the entire supply chain at risk, as well as lenders and brokers who offer extended terms. Hello! The big boxes are our customers, providing over 7,700 retail outlets and reaching over 150 million consumers per week. Why in the world would […]

Read More

October 28, 2008

View: Hall On Dealing With The Credit Crunch

Greenhouse Grower’s Online Editor Sara Tambascio recently talked to Texas A&M’s Charlie Hall about what role suppliers and distributors play in the credit situation in floriculture and how growers can weather these volatile times. “We’ve had credit problems before,” Hall says. “We’ve had high oil prices before. We’ve had housing markets that have turned down on us, but we’ve rarely, if ever, had all these things happen at the same time. We’re seeing unprecedented times and that’s why you’ve seen Congress take unprecedented action in terms of the bailout bill.” You can listen below to more of our conversation with Charlie Hall, including how developing a better relationship with your bank can help.

Read More

October 27, 2008

Dutch Ingenuity In South Africa

After visiting two greenhouses that produce finished plants from cuttings earlier in the week, we visited Fides’ 15-acre cuttings farm in South Africa called Safropa–blending South Africa with Europe. The facility was originally built to supply chrysanthemums but that production has moved to Uganda. Today, the facility is completely focused on kalanchoe cuttings. Frank Enthoven moved to South Africa from California to manage the operations. Safropa produces 1.8 million cuttings per week. While 65 percent of the production is the double-flowered Calandiva varieties, the remaining 35 percent are single-flowered kalanchoe. In just four years, the double-flowered varieties have dominated the European market. Adjacent to the property is a strawberry farm, also owned by a Dutch entrepreneur. Dutch ingenuity has come into play at Safropa, building canals to catch rainwater and securing a stable year-round supply of water, which isn’t found on most farms on South Africa. The primary heating source […]

Read More

October 22, 2008

View: Consolidation Can Be A Plus

Charlie Hall, professor and chairholder of the Ellison Chair in International Floriculture at Texas A&M University, says the consolidation that’s taken place in the industry to this point has been a positive thing. And Syngenta’s acquisition of Goldsmith is indeed a plus. “If you try to measure the efficency within an industry, I would contend the industry is much more efficient now that there are some very streamlined distribution systems,” Hall says. “I don’t see, in the long run, that this is a bad thing, until you get to a monopoly situation. There’s still enough competition in the industry to keep folks playing straight. They don’t mess with the price too much.” Goldsmith’s germplasm is a valuable asset for Syngenta, Hall says, and the acquisition does open up Syngenta’s portfolio. These types of mergers and acquisitions will continue in the future, but most growers won’t see too much difference in […]

Read More

October 22, 2008

Reaction To Syngenta’s Purchase Positive

Syngenta officially acquired Goldsmith Seeds late Monday, adding yet another reputable brand under the company umbrella that continues to expand. Leaders of both companies assure little will change in how each operates and, if anything, Syngenta’s acquisition should take Goldsmith to the next level. “This acquisition is a perfect strategic fit with Syngenta Flowers and it significantly increases our proprietary flower seed portfolio,” says Robert Berendes, head of business development at Syngenta. “The Goldsmith family has built up a world-class breeding company with an outstanding reputation that is known for its consistent quality. This acquisition further strengthens our leadership position in the global flowers industry.” Under the agreement, in which Syngenta paid $74 million on a cash and debt-free basis to acquire Goldsmith, names and faces are not expected to change. Joel Goldsmith will continue to act as president of Goldsmith Seeds, and the company will carry the same name […]

Read More

October 21, 2008

Seamless Software

“There’s an idea out in the industry that software’s not essential and I think that’s really hurting the industry’s move forward,” says Sharon Nuss, vice president of Starcom Computer Corp. “Because it is an essential core piece to running your business.” According to Nuss, you have to start integrating the various departments of your business into a “seamless operational flow.” Without production software, the individuals involved may have their own spreadsheet, and “then everyone has control of their own little universe.” John Stallmer, president of Innovative Software Solutions adds that above all else, production software creates a more efficient growing operation. It helps answer the questions, “How do we get as many hands out of the pot as we can? How do we make it simpler, faster, with less labor?” says Stallmer. So, if you haven’t already, it’s time to close out of those Excel spreadsheets and listen up. Conversion […]

Read More