August 13, 2008

Van Wingerden Fire Causes $2.5M In Damages

  Firefighters battle flames late Sunday night at Van Wingerden International in Mills River, N.C. (Mike Dirks/Times-News) A fire at Van Wingerden International in Mills River, N.C., that investigators are calling suspicious destroyed a 3-acre greenhouse filled with poinsettias Sunday night and, according to the company, caused $2.5 million in total damages. The Times-News in Hendersonville, N.C., reported the story. As of Monday night, investigators had eliminated every accidental cause except smoking material like matches and cigarettes. Fourteen fire departments from three counties were called to the scene late Sunday night. The fire began at the south end of the greenhouse, and shade cloth draped across houses led to an easy spread. The blaze was especially difficult for firefighters to battle because the plastic roof melted and dripped onto firefighters in a hot lava form. The melted plastic also created toxic smoke. “It was one of the worst-case scenarios for toxic […]

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August 1, 2008

The Green List: Growers

Raymond Cloyd Associate Professor, Extension Specialist, Kansas State University, Manhattan, Kan. ❑ Sanitation: Remove weeds, plant and growing media debris regularly from the greenhouse. These are sources of insect pest populations. ❑ Scouting: Initiate a scouting program that is designed to detect pests (insects and mites) early so that populations can be controlled easily. ❑ Properly time applications of pest control materials: Use the information obtained from scouting to time applications of pest control materials at the most vulnerable life stages (i.e. larvae and adults). ❑ Use biological controls: Gather as much background information as you can and consult biological control suppliers and Extension entomologists before implementing a biological control program. This will increase the likelihood for success. Also, be sure there is a commitment to initiating a biological control program. ❑ Obtain information on what pest control materials may be used in “sustainable production” programs. Then know the benefits […]

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July 24, 2008

Negotiating Your Way To Better Profits

You may not think of yourself as a negotiator but Harvard Business School professor Michael Watkins says you are. “Whatever your business, much of your time is spent negotiating,” he says. “There is no skill more essential to success for a business owner or manager than the ability to carry out a successful negotiation.” Whether you’re dealing with suppliers, customers, employees, financial sources or prospects, you are involved in the complex process we call negotiation. Although there are many books and courses on improving negotiating skills, Watkins, a nationally recognized expert on business negotiations, believes that most are of little help in dealing with real-life negotiating situations. In his book, “Breakthrough Business Negotiations,” Watkins teaches his students to break the process down into four fundamental steps. “While every negotiating situation will have its own unique characteristics and cast of players,” he says, “learning and using the ‘breakthrough’ approach will help […]

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July 22, 2008

Committed To Quality

Driving along the rapidly developing main stretch in Sandusky, Ohio, you’ll pass a number of hotels, retail stores and restaurants, all to accommodate the city’s main industry of amusement parks. And by a stroke of luck or misfortune, depending on the opinion, Corso’s Perennials is located just a few doors down from Cedar Point, the “rollercoaster capital of the world.” The wholesale growing operation specializing in perennials and herbs, also has its own retail garden center, Corso’s. Founded in 1941 by August Corso and his three sons, Phil, Joe and Michael, the operation was forced to relocate to its current location when the government built a TNT plant on Corso’s original site during the war effort. The plant is now a NASA facility, says Gus Corso, the grandson of August, who runs the operation with his cousins, John, Mickey and Michelle Corso, and his sons Chad and Brad Corso. Retail […]

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July 22, 2008

Vegetables Are Bedding Plants

In the June 12, 2008 Lansing State Journal, the comic strip Arlo & Janis surely hit home! It shows an old fellow planting vegetables and saying to himself, “Why haven’t we grown vegetables before?” He thinks they are healthy, creative and so green! His wife tells him they are going to be the next big thing. He looks at her and says, “I thought this was my idea.” After reading the statistics from the USDA on the 15 percent decrease in vegetable plant sales from 2006 to 2007 and having it reported in another trade magazine, growers thought they should reduce vegetable plant production. Unfortunately, reading a report that is almost two years old is like reading what the stock market was valued at two years ago. With the increases in the price of food and the tomato-salmonella scare, going back to having vegetable gardens became to many people not […]

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July 22, 2008

A Sustainable Greenhouse And Nursery

The concept of “going green” may be a fairly recent phenomenon, but it is something Bordine Nursery in Michigan has been practicing for more than 10 years. Bordine Nursery is known for its purple signage and marketing and recently added a section to its Web site called “Purple Goes Green.” The section explains the many ways in which the nursery is using environmentally-friendly practices. Co-owner Calvin Bordine says that even though the site touts the store’s green practices, he does not consider what they do to be a movement. “There was never a sit-down meeting to say, ‘from this day forward …'” he says. “It’s just trying to do what makes sense. It’s something we’ve been working on for over 10 years. It’s now just become very trendy.” Bordine adds that he has good employees that also come up with suggestions, and he tours other areas for ideas. “We like […]

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July 16, 2008

Ones To Watch: Susie Raker

As part of Greenhouse Grower’s 25th anniversary celebration, we’ll profile industry people over the next 25 weeks who we expect to shape the industry for the better over the next 25 years. Our Ones To Watch series continues this week with Susie Raker,  team leader of C. Raker & Sons’ marketing and product support teams. Age–27 Her job–Team is a key concept at C. Raker & Sons, and Susie is the team leader of the company’s marketing and product support teams. Resume builder–Besides earning a bachelor’s in horticulture at Michigan State University, Susie has studied horticulture in Chile and worked for Goldsmith Seeds in Gilroy, Calif., and Bachman’s Nursery in Minneapolis. Organizational involvement–Susie is involved with OFA, ANLA and MNLA, and she’s an active member of the Generation Next Committee. Industry education–“A lot of my peers are not educated about plants. We need to show them all of the fun […]

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July 9, 2008

Ones To Watch: Raymond Bowdish

Age–43 His job–Head grower, head of maintenance and proprietor are some of the hats Bowdish wears at his small greenhouse operation in Lisbon, N.Y. For the little guys–Never Tire Farm may be a small greenhouse operation, but it’s very adaptive. Raymond and his four major employees, who include his wife Megan, have stuck with their plan of becoming a supplier of quality plants while using no registered pesticides. Never Tire Farm relies on biological controls to solve its pest problems instead. “Most people are amazed that fewer than four full-time people can handle such a diverse crop in our little half-acre,” Raymond says. Keeping it local - To inform customers that its plants are provided in an area of less than 200 miles, Never Tire Farms plans to customize all of its tags with its location over the next year. Never Tiring–Away from the greenhouse, Bowdish has been working with […]

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July 9, 2008

Insurance Plan Exclusive To SAF Members

The program uses a trust established by SAF, which is in an arrangement that allows participating member companies to join together to obtain coverage in a single policy of insurance. “We continually look for ways to enhance our membership’s array of services,” says Peter Moran, executive vice president and CEO of SAF. “The advent of this health plan gives us the opportunity to make vital services available and provides an alternative for those searching for help with their health insurance programs.” For more information on Hortica, click here.

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July 7, 2008

Our Ones To Watch

Twenty-five years from now, in 2033, the industry could have a whole new look. Will it be more consolidated? Will smaller growers be even more specialized? And, of course, how green will the industry be by then? Only time can answer those questions, but even the next 25 years will need a few leaders to lean on. So beginning this month, and as part of our 25th anniversary celebration, we’ll identify and profile ones to watch — the industry’s movers and shakers — through November, before reaching our special December issue. We’ll also profile a different person each week in our e-newsletter, Benchrunner, starting this month. LISA TAKAO Age - 27 Her Job–As the one responsible for the creative direction and visual identity of Takao Nursery, Lisa sets the overall marketing theme for the company through the company logo, its Web site, annual catalog, newsletters, plant tags and presentations and tradeshow booth […]

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July 7, 2008

Some Things Never Change

You can read many business magazines and see how they are looking back over the years to explain what is happening now. There is a saying that you can talk with economists and they can tell you where we have been and what trends have gotten us to this point, but they have great difficulty in forecasting what will happen in the future. I would like to share some old cultural, marketing, and management information that may be of interest to you. You may find it useful in planning for next year’s production.  Cultural Facts 1. Mercury and many of its components emit vapors that are toxic to plant growth. Zimmerman and Crocker in 1934 reported that roses are extremely susceptible to injury from vapors containing mercury. In their findings they showed that mercury-containing insecticides, fungicides, broken thermometers and paints caused problems (Zimmerman Hitchcock, 1956; Butterfield, 1954). The use of paint […]

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