August 5, 2009

Oregon Governor Backs Growers On Tax Proposal

According to a Hillsboro Argus story, the Oregon Association of Nurseries and its members are grateful Gov. Ted Kulongoski signed a bill protecting nurseries against the threat of an unfair new property tax. “Many of our growers are relieved they won’t be subjected to an additional property tax assessment against hoop houses, which are temporary structures used to protect plants and extend the growing season,” says Jeff Stone, government relations director for the Oregon Association of Nurseries. “When the state Department of Revenue proposed taxing hoop houses as if they were permanent structures, our members said it was unacceptable.” Oregon’s Department of Revenue proposed new rulemaking earlier this year that would have assessed nurseries for the value of hoop houses. To read the full Hillsboro Argus story, click here.

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August 1, 2009

Mutual Marketing

Putting together a cooperative marketing message for the floriculture industry as a whole has proven to be a challenge over the years. But taken in smaller bites, growers and retailers have seen some real gains by working together on local, regional, and even statewide projects. Here’s a quick look at three new group projects that have been successful so far in 2009. Local: Passport 2 Plants Gilson Gardens, Martin’s Nursery, Middle Ridge Gardens and Sabo’s Woodside Nursery & Garden Center are friendly competitors. When a customer shows up looking for a special plant that one of the businesses doesn’t offer, the staff is quick to send them to one of the others that can help. “I don’t look at them as competitors,” says Sabo’s owner Brian Sabo. “I think of them as colleagues.” In fact, these four Northeast Ohio businesses took that cooperative relationship to the next level this spring, […]

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July 22, 2009

MPS Certifies First U.S. Grower

An MPS-ABC sustainability certificate was awarded to a North American grower for the first time last week, when D.S. Cole Growers in Loudon, N.H., earned the distinction. MPS is active in more than 50 countries. U.S. greenhouse growers began expressing interest in MPS certification last summer, when a group of companies started with registration for MPS-ABC certification. MPS-ABC works like a rating scale, indicating the level of sustainability of your operation’s management. The rating scale goes from 0 to 100 points, and a company’s score is determined four times a year based on its use of fertilizers, energy and pesticides, and its management of waste. In some countries, water use is also taken into account. The total usage of a company is compared to requirements and standards. Companies with lowest usage are rated highest. “The MPS-ABC certificate is a very valuable management tool,” says Doug Cole, president. “MPS-ABC works like […]

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July 21, 2009

Walmart Introduces Eco-Ratings

Walmart is embarking on a three-phase plan called the sustainable product index that will impact all Walmart stores and suppliers. With the world’s population increasing and natural resources decreasing, Walmart recognizes its customers demand better, responsibly produced products. Walmart’s index will highlight product efficiency, which includes product longevity, performance and how it was produced. Phase one begins with a 15-question survey created by Walmart and sent out to more than 100,000 of its suppliers. It will be used to determine just how sustainable the mass merchandiser’s suppliers already are. Phase two will involve the cooperation of universities, retailers, suppliers and other third-party committees. These groups will work together to create a single database. The database will eventually cover the lifecycle of every product sold at Walmart. Lastly, phase three will use the index formed in phase two and create a rating system. The ratings will be added to the products […]

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July 21, 2009

Singing Over Spring?

Was spring a success or a failure for your greenhouse operation this year? Your answer, of course, depends on your definition of “success” and the goals you set for your operation months ago. Did you have your sights set on sales increases of 10 percent over 2008? Five percent? Perhaps your goal simply was to survive the season and ride out the recession so you’d be in position to give spring yet another shot in 2010. However you define success, the growers who took our Industry Pulse Follow-Up survey in June tend to agree Spring 2009 was a good one. Eighty-six percent of survey respondents called spring a success for their business this year. Only 14 defined it as a failure. So what made spring a success for so many? Many respondents attribute their success to the boom in herbs and vegetables. Among those who grew them this spring, 34 […]

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July 20, 2009

In His Words: Jason Parks On Spring At Retail

Every year when spring is over, I like to pick a market and visit our customers there to see how their spring went and to get a feel for what they expect next year to be like. For growers it is critical that we spend time talking to our customers to determine what is really important to them. Recently, I made a trip up north and visited nine garden centers. Some of the garden centers were already customers of ours; some say they will be next year, and some are not and probably will never be. The market I visited has a combined metropolitan area population of 782,000 people, and a median household income of $47,193 (2004) for the main population county. All the garden centers I visited reported having a good, bordering on great, spring. As usual we were able to talk more with the ones we already had […]

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July 20, 2009

Just Ask To Sell More

I met a new friend who works in the rubber industry as a sales manager. He is a great guy who is deeply involved in that industry, as well as with his church and the Michigan State University (MSU) community. His wife is also involved with MSU activities as a Master Gardener and volunteers as a docent in the 4-H Children’s Garden. They are both active in the music department and athletic department at MSU. They attend all hockey, football, men’s and women’s basketball games, and so on. They are really true Spartans! The couple also is active in the community and their neighborhood where my friend’s wife serves as treasurer of the homeowners’ association. I enjoy observing all the activities they are involved in and seeing how happy they are! An Outsider’s View Recently, I asked my friend to take a look at our industry. From the information I […]

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July 14, 2009

7-Eleven Calls Credit Processing Fees ‘Excessive’

7-Eleven Inc. is trying to solicit 1 million signatures from customers for a petition calling for Congress to change credit card processing fees. Company officials call the transaction fees, charged each time a card is swiped, “unfair and excessive,” according to a story in the Dallas Morning News. “The card companies merely pick a rate and then they charge away–no notice, no discussion,” says Keith Jones, a 7-Eleven lobbyist, in the story. “In fact, we rarely know before we start paying higher fees that the card companies have new rates.” The rates hit operations like convenience stores the hardest because the rate at which consumers are using credit and debit cards is increasing, but sometimes the purchases are for small dollar amounts, resulting in a loss at times for retailers. 7-Eleven alone, with 6,300 stores in the U.S., paid $160 million to credit card companies last year. It’s working with […]

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July 7, 2009

Walmart Backs Employer-Provided Health Care

The motive is unclear, but retail giant Walmart has come out in support of an employer-provided health care model. The company made its position known via a letter to President Obama, according to a recent Los Angeles Times story. President Obama has said employer-provided coverage is vital to helping cover the more than 46 million people in the country who lack health insurance. “It’s pretty clear that we’re advocating for reform,” Greg Rossiter, a Walmart spokesman, told L.A. Times reporter David Lazarus last week. “We’ve said for some time that we support health care reform. It needs to be comprehensive and it needs to happen.” Many view Walmart’s stance as a positive move forward to providing health care coverage to all U.S. citizens, but the motivation behind it is still unclear. In past years, Walmart has come under fire for its own dismal coverage for its 1.4 million workers. “Walmart […]

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June 23, 2009

Growing For One?

Growing for the consumer, that’s what you do, no matter where your place is in the growing process. You have it down to a science − you know how many to grow and when to grow them. Now try placing the word “online” before consumer. At first take, it might sound like an unpredictable commitment on your end, with small, singular orders and all that individual packaging and postage. And some questions might arise: Is there a better chance to mark up your goods? Will you need to overhaul your growing strategies? In reality, the sale of online potted plants isn’t a shot in the dark or a guessing game, and as experts in the industry explain, it’s simply a demand for ”super high quality plants.” Responding With Quality There’s no question companies like FloraServ, ProFlowers and Red Envelope rely on their growers. And according to FloraServ’s Ben Swett, quality […]

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June 23, 2009

Slideshow: A New Look For Greenhouse Grower

Click through the pages below for a sneak preview of our updated design and some of the new features you’ll find starting in the July issue of Greenhouse Grower magazine.

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