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 […]

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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.

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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 […]

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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 […]

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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 […]

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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 […]

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October 21, 2008

Computing Success

Streamlined Flexibility Red Wing Software: The CenterPoint Accounting for Agriculture Version 4 gives users more flexibility, helping streamline and organize reporting processes. Transactions can be entered, sorted and searched more quickly and easily. Also, users can customize columns and apply filters for essential analysis. www.redwingsoftware.com       Customer Cooperation SBI Nursery Software: Production Management Package, a new module from SBI, automates purchasing of materials for production. It also lets the user manage production with work orders being sent out to propagate, transplant and execute important tasks. This software has been designed by growers, the people who put it to work every day. www.sbinursery.com       Affordable Performance Arc Growing Software: Geared toward small to mid-sized growing operations, Arc Growing Software’s single-user package for production starts at under $10,000. From production scheduling to space planning to automatic royalties, this software can adapt to a wide variety of growers and […]

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October 21, 2008

Hortica Appoints New Board Member

Cees Boonman, president of Ball Seed and the company’s wholesale distribution divisions in Latin America, was named to the board of directors at Hortica Insurance & Employee Benefits. Boonman has worked at Ball since 1994, and he also serves on its board of directors. He previously held senior management positions with firms in the vegetable seed industry in Europe and the United States.

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October 21, 2008

Going For Upgrades

      LVG, owned by the Van Geest family, is the flagship grower for Plantimex and Ivo van Geest is managing director of Plantimex, the distribution arm. He and his father and two brothers run six hectares of greenhouse and all live on site. “The houses are just far enough apart to not fight,” Ivo says. The business is just 12 years old. The greenhouse facilities are modern and have attractive brick foundations that match the buildings throughout. It looks like a nicely landscaped industrial park. Specialty crops include orchids and Poulsen varieties of potted roses. While larger roses go to nurseries, smaller ones go to retail chains. One quarter of Plantimex’s business is Woolworth, which is different in South Africa than it was in the States. It is considered a higher end department store versus a discount store. Stores near Johannesburg receive deliveries everyday, Cape Town, every two […]

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October 20, 2008

Our Ones To Watch

Pamela Youngsman Skagit Gardens Age - 39 Her Job–As sales manager, Pamela is responsible for overseeing sales and customer service, inventory flow and customer satisfaction for Skagit Gardens. Try Something New–Growing up in the horticulture business gave Pamela valuable experience in accounting, production and sales. She left the industry for seven years, spent four of them working as an auditor in Los Angeles and returned to Skagit Gardens 12 years ago. Her experience outside the industry gave her an appreciation for the sincerity and values of the people and companies within the industry. Getting Involved–OFA is an important organization for Skagit Gardens. Pamela serves on the OFA board of directors and the OFA Exhibitor Advisory Committee. Twenty-Five Years From Now - Growers will be more niche-oriented. They’ll have to take greater care of their customers and be quick to react to opportunities. Human product handling will be supplemented even more […]

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October 17, 2008

Count Your Blessings

As we approach the end of the year that marks the 25th anniversary of the founding of Greenhouse Grower magazine, it is time to stop and reflect on what has happened in the last 25 years and to be thankful for all of those people who have made it possible. I have a friend who sends cards for Thanksgiving rather than Christmas. She thanks those who have helped her during the past year and indicates how grateful she is to have them as friends. She considers each of her friends a blessing, and she makes it known to them how special they are. While I don’t send cards to everyone, I do count my friends as blessings. I spent this month thinking about all the people who have helped build Greenhouse Grower magazine. I believe that I have had 10 editors who have helped turn my scribbles into meaningful articles. […]

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