December 29, 2009

Become A Business Driver

Finishing up 2009 and heading in to 2010, it feels like we’ve entered a new era in the greenhouse floriculture industry, like we’ve come out the other end of a long and somewhat painful transition. For the last 10 years, we’ve been collectively bracing ourselves for a lot of what has happened: more growing operations of all sizes leaving the industry and a mature market where overall sales are flat. As some businesses leave, others are gaining market share. While some of this is normal and generational with growers retiring without successors, for others it’s an inability to compete and turn a profit. This is especially true when owners don’t reinvest in their business over time and have dilapidated structures and use inefficient methods. If you’re running the business the same as you did 20 years ago, chances are, you have fallen behind. Those who made it through 2009 on […]

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December 28, 2009

Make It Happen Again

Every obstacle presents an opportunity. Our industry has taken advantage of opportunities before, and now we have to do it again. At Christmas, you could see big changes in approach occurring at the major retailers. The major Christmas toy sales started in mid-October, and the major toy stores and mega-chains started selling toys at year-end prices. Walmart had a Black Friday sale that lasted all day and all night. Brand name toys were selling at $10 apiece, with hundreds of different toys priced in this range. Kmart advertised layaway plans with little or no interest that attracted many early buyers and also helped them pay for purchases made in October over a three-month period. If you read any of the business magazines, you’ve realized the large retailers were going to get their product early and sell as much as they could at discount prices. Their goal was to make certain […]

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December 21, 2009

Wishing Will Well

A friend to hundreds of growers across the country, Will Carlson was hospitalized with a serious illness in late November. Will retired from Michigan State University in 2002 and has been active in his retirement writing his column for Greenhouse Grower, “One to Grow On,” and consulting for growers. This March will mark 36 years Will has been writing columns for Greenhouse Grower and before that American Vegetable Grower–a wonderful record of service to the horticulture industry. While Will recovers, we will be publishing a few of his best columns that continue to stand the test of time. These can also be found in the book we published in 2003, “One To Grow On.” Will’s friends and loved ones are pulling for his recovery. Cards may be sent to his home at 6330 Pine Hollow Drive, East Lansing, MI 48823. While Will recovers, he asks growers interested in getting in […]

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December 16, 2009

Using Distribution Hubs

Producing a quality plant is just the first step. Finding an efficient and cost-effective way to get that quality plant from the greenhouse to the customer is something else entirely. A number of growers have responded by using distribution hubs to control delivery costs, get plants to their final destination in better shape, and in some cases, open doors to new opportunities and markets. Delivering New Relationships EuroAmerican Propagators’ efforts to refine its shipping schedules will most likely lead to improved deliveries for its propagation facility, as well as a number of fellow propagators in Southern California this spring. Rich Ouellet, EuroAmerican’s director of marketing and sales, says the Euro Transportation Team, led by manager Kenny Soles, spent a great deal of time over the last several months sorting through delivery records and building a historical picture of its last five years of orders. EuroAmerican used the information to develop a new […]

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December 9, 2009

Educational Tools & Early Registration From ANLA

December 17 is the early bird registration deadline for the 2010 ANLA Management Clinic–and ANLA is featuring a full week of programming to promote the event. Beginning Monday, December 14, ANLA will launch the following series of events: –ANLA Today. The December issue launches Monday with a focus on how the economy has impacted our industry. With fewer staff, increased customer counts and smaller, more frequent orders, how are businesses addressing the challenges? –Webinar. Clinic speaker John Kennedy presents: “When Business is Slow…Sharpen the Tools!” The webinar will take place Tuesday, December 15 from 3-4 p.m. EDT. For more information and registration, click here. –Webinar. Clinic speaker Dr. Charlie Hall presents: “Got Recovery?” The webinar will take place Wednesday, December 16 from 3- 4 p.m. For more information and registration, click here. –The Early Bird Blog Spectacular. On Thursday, December 17, tune in for 12 blog postings in 12 hours […]

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December 2, 2009

Dishin’ On Distribution

Nearly two years ago, leading horticultural distributors BFG Supply Co., BWI Companies and Griffin Greenhouse and Nursery Supplies formed an independent organization called the Integrated Horticultural Alliance (IHA). The organization was formed to remove redundancies and inefficiencies that drive up input costs. We recently caught up with Joe Farinacci, managing director of the Integrated Horticultural Alliance, who provided an update on IHA’s progress and how the organization is providing more value in the supply chain to growers. Q: How has IHA improved the efficiency of the supply chain since its inception early last year? A: Since coming to IHA, I have read and heard many comments regarding the lack of standardization within the horticultural industry. We all know, especially the grower, you need to develop standard procedures to be successful. Last year was a volatile year in terms of prices for horticultural products, specifically for plastics and products that contained […]

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December 1, 2009

Promising Progress

There’s no question this year has been a tough one, the toughest I’ve witnessed economically in my 16 years working on Greenhouse Grower. Being down 20 percent in sales seemed to be the new norm as spending cutbacks rippled through the supply chain. There were big winners and losers after box store buyers dramatically reduced the number of growers they will work with. Those who gained more business won big. Those who lost the business are scrambling for customers and can’t diversify and reinvent their businesses fast enough. Independent growers and retailers were especially challenged to preserve their market share as more price-conscious consumers gravitated toward box stores and discounters. Even in the instances where foot traffic was up in the garden centers, the average purchase at the register was down. But in the grand scheme of how our nation, the world and other industries and retail categories are faring, […]

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November 30, 2009

Cutting Transportation Costs To The Bone

As I have written here many times over the years, transportation and distribution are among your greatest costs. Any cost decrease has an immediate effect on your bottom line, so cutting costs is a compelling proposition that translates to more money – right away! I have heard from many growers over the years who have followed the advice in my columns, and they have had great success. What I don’t understand is why more growers don’t implement these cost-cutting measures. If growers would merely simplify the fundamental elements of their businesses, they would not only stop wasting money but could focus their time on growing.  So, here is your chance to cut your transportation costs to the bone. These four things will immediately slice at least 20 percent off your entire distribution costs. Bid Your Freight Today The available truck capacity in the market is greater than ever. Freight volumes […]

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November 30, 2009

Putting Some Heat Into It

Since Athens Select’s launch in 1998, the collection has added a host of best-selling new varieties and initiated a partnership with the Southern Living Plant Collection that’s helped take the program to new heights.         Hot Property Just two years into Athens Select’s partnership with the Southern Living Plant Collection, the program shines for its unique varieties and its ability to provide sizzling color even in summer heat. With 11 Athens Select varieties now part of the Southern Living Plant Collection, opportunities for growth abound. For Athens Select, the partnership was a no-brainer. After all, Southern Living is a premier lifestyle and entertainment magazine and the sixth largest monthly consumer magazine in the United States. It reaches nearly 16 million readers each month and enjoys a circulation of about 2.8 million. “Having the Southern Living brand behind your product and, for retailers, [having] the pot and tag […]

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November 20, 2009

The Other ‘R’ Word

Several signs are pointing to the likelihood that we are now in economic recovery. The gross domestic product (GDP) for the last half of 2009 was positive and most indices are reflecting a turnaround scenario. Even the housing market has been showing signs of stabilization. Not exactly a robust recovery, but certainly an end to the precipitous decline we saw in 2007 and 2008. The recovery phase will be marked by ongoing price declines in many locales, albeit more gradual ones. We will also see a gradual stabilization in sales rates, a gradual decline in the level of inventory for sale and a gradual bottoming out of construction activity. Again, though, the word to emphasize is “gradual.” The new home industry has done a good job of reducing supply with inventory for sale now in line with the long-term average. But the existing home market is still oversupplied, and we […]

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November 13, 2009

Times Change Quickly

The entire United States financial system was on the verge of bankruptcy. If it had not been for the federal government’s intervention, the whole system would have collapsed. Some unscrupulous individuals stole hundreds of billions of dollars at the expense of all of the honest workers and citizens. In only days, the government printed the money to cover these criminal acts. The debt of our country almost doubled in one month.   The recession got worse and unemployment hit new highs. As I write this, the unemployment rate is 10 percent nationally. In Michigan, it is 15.8 percent and in Detroit it is over 29 percent.   In the September 2008 Produce Business magazine, Dave Dever indicated that, based on his most recent statistics of income for the 2006 tax year, approximately 55 percent of tax filers had adjusted gross income of less than $50,000 with an average discretionary income […]

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November 9, 2009

Greenhouse Grower A Winner At ASBPE’s Digital Azbee Awards

Meister Media publications Greenhouse Grower and Today’s Garden Center were big winners at the 2009 Digital Azbee Awards presented by the American Society of Business Publication Editors (ASBPE). Greenhouse Grower received an honorable mention in the Multi-Platform coverage category for its 2009 California Pack Trials reporting in the print magazine and online and a silver award for step-by-step how-to podcast for the Proper Handling Of Unrooted Poinsettia Cuttings episode of FloriCAST, the podcast for greenhouse growers. Sister publication Today’s Garden Center won the 2009 Multi-Platform gold award for its 2009 Revolutionary Garden Centers coverage. Today’s Garden Center also won a national silver award in the category Integrated Social Media Community for integration between, Fresh Air Forum, blogs, Facebook and Twitter. ASBPE presented awards in 15 new digital categories at its first digital-only national conference. The awards were announced on November 6 during the luncheon at the Hyatt Regency San Francisco Airport.

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