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 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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October 15, 2008

Ones To Watch: John Bonner

As part of Greenhouse Grower’s 25th anniversary, we are profiling people we expect to shape the industry for the better over the next 25 years. Now in its 16th week online, our Ones To Watch series continues with John Bonner of Eagle Creek Wholesale, who was featured in our October issue. Age–30 His Job–John is general manager of Eagle Creek Wholesale in Mantua, Ohio. After he graduated from Capital University, where he majored in economics and finance, John entered another family business with his father: realty management. Six years ago, though, his family began constructing its retail greenhouse, and now John manages a separate growing location. All In The Family–John’s mother’s grandfather founded BFG Supply Company, and John’s father founded Dillen Products. His family, obviously, has enough history in the industry, so it was easy for John to transition into it when the time came several years ago. “The family […]

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October 6, 2008

Ones To Watch: Stephen Barlow

As part of Greenhouse Grower’s 25th anniversary, we are profiling people we expect to shape the industry for the better over the next 25 years. Now in its 15th week online, our Ones To Watch series continues with Stephen Barlow of Barlow Flower Farm, who was featured in our September issue. Age–30 His Job–Stephen is part of the second generation at grower-retailer Barlow Flower Farm in Sea Girt, N.J. He is currently general manager at Barlow’s, which encompasses 6 acres, after graduating with a bachelor’s in horticulture from Michigan State University and a master’s from Monmouth University. Think Big–Stephen envisions the development of a growing location where Barlow Flower Farm can become more self-sustained, and he would like to help expand the retail portion of the business. “We are on the brink of some really exciting programs and opportunities, including display gardens, children gardens and other programs,” he says. Quotable–”It […]

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September 30, 2008

Wal-Mart Simmering Out Plastic Bag Use

Wal-Mart plans to cut its worldwide plastic shopping bag waste by an average of 33 percent per store by 2013, an effort the world’s biggest retailer said could eliminate more than 135 million pounds of plastic waste. To meet that goal, Wal-Mart will give out fewer bags and encourage shoppers to use reusable ones. The announcement, published in a Reuters story, is part of Wal-Mart’s goal of one day creating zero waste. It also comes amid a global push to curb the use of plastic bags, which environmentalists say can take up to 1,000 years to disintegrate and pose threats to marine life, birds and other animals. Earlier this year, San Francisco became the first U.S. city to outlaw non-biodegradable plastic bags from large supermarkets, and the state of California has enacted a law that requires large stores to take back plastic bags and encourage their reuse. Wal-Mart said its […]

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September 29, 2008

Hortica Names New Board Chair

Hortica Insurance & Employee Benefits recently announced former chairman of the board Jim Leider will reassume his role of chairman until the company’s February 2009 policyholders meeting. Leider replaces Todd Bachman, who was tragically killed at the Olympic Games in Beijing this summer. Leider served as chairman of the board from October 1997 to February 2008. He is also chairman & CEO of Leider Horticultural Companies based in the Chicago area. His company operates a commercial greenhouse operation and seasonal retail garden centers in Buffalo Grove, Ill., a nursery and farm in Knox County, Ill., and a foliage plant nursery in Boynton Beach, Fla. In addition to serving Hortica, Leider has also served as past chairman for the Society of American Florists (SAF) and the American Floral Endowment (AFE). For more information on Hortica, click here. 

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September 22, 2008

Control Your Energy Costs: Dont Fear The Meter

With the financial scars from last winter’s record-breaking natural gas price peaks still fresh in mind, many growers are looking to get smarter about buying fuel instead of getting burned again this winter. But how to do this? Trading gas futures is a difficult enterprise, like picking a winner in stocks but without some of the clues (such as earnings, history, management etc.) that allow stock market investors to calculate a company’s true  investment potential. Even the big energy traders, staffed with meteorologists and political scientists, really know no more than the little guy. It makes for a playing field full of potential dangers. Logic-Free Zone “I could show you the NYMEX (New York Mercantile Exchange) numbers for the last 15 years, and I defy you to make any sort of sense out of them,” says Bob Bordone, a 32-year veteran of the natural gas industry. Bordone has spent the […]

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September 22, 2008

60 & Savvy

Most 60-year-olds you’ll meet may not be hip to the trends of the day, nor will they necessarily be the most innovative-minded. But that isn’t the case for the now 60-year-old Walters Gardens, in Zeeland, Mich. One of the country’s largest perennial producers, Walters Gardens has a talent for reinventing itself to keep business booming and maintain its leadership position. Founded in 1946, the business started as a small flower farm owned by Dena and John Knoll, which served as a contract grower for a larger producer. After John passed away unexpectedly, Dena Knoll hired a young man, named Dennis Walters, whose four brothers also joined the company. When Knoll retired, Dennis Walters took over the business. He eventually married Knoll’s only daughter Harriet, and the couple’s five children have been involved in the business. Today, Walters Gardens remains a family business that sits on 2,100 acres of land and employs […]

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September 22, 2008

Managing Your Bottom Line

It’s no secret profit margins have eroded to levels that threaten the future of many greenhouse operations. Costs continue to rise, prices continue to stagnate and growers struggle to maintain a sustainable level of profitability. So OFA, in cooperation with the Michigan Greenhouse Growers Expo, will be offering strategies for managing your bottom line profitably at the growers expo in Lansing this November. Bridget Behe, a professor in the department of horticulture at Michigan State University (MSU), and Peter Konjoian, president of Konjoian’s Floriculture Education Services (KFES), will discuss key topics of financial concern at a 3 ½-hour workshop November 11 from 1:30-5 p.m. Behe and Konjoian will discuss cost accounting, revenue analysis and calculation and evaluation profit. A discussion of marketing and economic factors governing current industry behavior will also be presented. Cost of the workshop is $75, and the registration deadline is October. Click here for more information.

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September 22, 2008

Strength In Numbers

Contracts can have many negative connotations, whether talking about negotiations, fees or lawsuits. Greenhouse growers across the country are making contract growing into a positive, working cooperatively to deliver products to satisfy demand. In our Under Contract series, we’ll investigate how growers are making contract growing work. Large greenhouses hire contracts to fill orders of products that they can’t quite reach  and small greenhouses supply to large operations to get a piece of the mass merchandiser pie. Has contract growing reached your operation? We’ll supply you with insights into how other growers are doing it. If you’re not on the contract scene yet, take a peek. Maybe you’ll read something that could work for you. Group Cooperation The Kalamazoo Valley Plant Grower’s (KVPG) Cooperative has been in operation for 38 years, beginning as a way for growers to standardize packaging, labeling and pricing of products. Today, it unites owners of greenhouse […]

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September 22, 2008

Home Depot Cutting Prices To Win Back Customers

As the world continues to raise prices, Home Depot plans to lower them. The hardware chain plans to cut prices on an assortment of items this week–possibly as many as 1,200–to boost anemic sales and win back customers who’ve ditched it for Lowe’s and Wal-Mart. Prices will be cut between 5 and 50 percent and last through the next quarter at the very least, the Associated Press reports. Although Home Depot did not not say what the average reduction will be or indicate which items in its garden centers will specifically be lowered, a spokesperson says one of every 25 items found on store shelves will be discounted. “We’re trying to gain market share in the process,” says Craig Menear, Home Depot’s executive vice president of merchandising. “Absolutely, we’re trying to drive sales and productivity. During the second quarter this year, Home Depot’s same-store sales fell 7.9 percent. One analyst, […]

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