September 19, 2007

Wal-Mart On Sustainability

Wal-Mart’s Senior Horticultural Buyer Ron Coben shared the retail giant’s corporate vision for sustainability and what it means to growers last week at Grower Talks’ Greenhouse Experience in Cleveland. Wal-Mart already has started working with growers and our industry at large on sustainable initiatives. Examples Coben shared, both related and unrelated to Wal-Mart, include: The rollout of Earth Essentials as the Wal-Mart exclusive version of Ball Horticultural Co.’s Circle of Life program for independent garden centers. The Wal-Mart biodegradable pots are green versus brown. The program was in select markets this year. Partnering with Ball on getting growers certified for sustainable practices through Veriflora. Fairview Greenhouses in Missouri using turkey beaks and feet as fuel from a nearby turkey farm. Growers and the University of Florida using Smart Grow pad made of human hair in China in the tops of nursery pots to reduce the need for watering, fertilizing and […]

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September 12, 2007

Pallet Shipper Saves Freight

Northwest Horticulture’s new Pallet Shipper has helped the perennial propagator pass freight savings onto its grower customers. Based in Mt. Vernon, Wash., the company ships nationally from the Northwest corner of the United States and is always looking for ways to drive down delivery costs. Ranked at No. 21 on our Top 25 Young Plant Growers, Northwest Horticulture produces perennials, groundcovers and landscape roses in more than a million square feet of greenhouse space and 600 additional acres of outdoor production. The company’s new Pallet Shipper program has made truck shipping a viable option for growers looking for high quality plugs at a cost-effective price. The crush-resistant packaging system is stacked on pallets, delievering dormant trays to growers’ doors. “The Pallet Shipper stacking system allows air to circulate through the plants during shipping,” says Richard Gigot, Northwest Horticulture’s director of sales and marketing. “Traditional boxed shipments don’t allow this.” Since […]

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August 15, 2007

Wisconsin Energy Incentives

Tropical Gardens, a 70,000-square-foot greenhouse operation in Mosinee, Wis., is saving thousands of dollars in fuel costs after undergoing an energy audit and installing a thermal energy curtain. The free energy assessment was conducted by Focus On Energy, which works with Wisconsin residents and businesses to install cost-effective energy efficiency and renewable energy projects. Tropical Gardens received $3,500 in financial incentives to install the curtain, which saved nearly $11,000 in energy costs the first year. The payback period for this installation was less than two years. For more information, visit Focus On Energy’s Web site.

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July 11, 2007

Higham on Transportation & Merchandising

One of the most frequent issues that comes up in my discussions with growers is how to connect two important parts of the supply chain–transportation and merchandising. As Vinny Naab mentions in Greenhouse Grower’s July issue, more growers are having to merchandise their own products in stores or hand it off to a third party. For growers delivering their own material, this may not be so bad. But when you have to use common carrier trucks and third party merchandisers, it can be a disaster. For more, visit:

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July 5, 2007

Wal-Mart Tries Earth-Friendly Pots

Wal-Mart Canada is testing sales of empty Biopots in 227 discount stores, seven super centers and six Sam’s Clubs. The 4-inch and 6-inch grower pots will be sold to consumers empty off the shelf and placed beside plastic pots. This was sold by and supplied through Toronto distributor John G. Hofland Ltd. For more information, visit: and

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June 20, 2007

Tim Higham On Cross Docking

One of the things being tried by several growers and big box stores is worth noting–cross docking material and delivering one full truck to a store. So rather than five small deliveries, the store gets one delivery–a full truck with a variety of material on it. This is common with many other products but has never worked on a wide scale with plant material, and many have tried. For more, visit:

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June 13, 2007

Vinny Naab On Service Programs

Over the last six to eight years, third-party nursery service has developed extensively in the mass-market arena, particularly at The Home Depot and Lowe’s. More recently, as in this year, Wal-Mart has begun to test the concept in select markets and will be studying the results to see if the program bears expanding, maintaining or is deemed unnecessary. For more on this topic, visit:

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June 6, 2007

Urban Garden Centers

Edgy clothing retailer Urban Outfitters will open a prototype for an urban garden center in Philadelphia next year. While the clothing stores target Generations X and Y, this new concept store will be for Boomers. Today’s Garden Center has the story at

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May 30, 2007

Tim Higham On Gasoline Prices

The recent rise in gas prices affects everyone, unless you have the luxury of passing your costs onto your customers. However, most of us don’t. For more, visit:

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May 23, 2007

New Floriculture Chair At TAMU

Dr. Charlie Hall has been named the new holder of the Ellen and Jim Ellison Chair in International Floriculture at Texas A&M University. For the past five years, Hall has been a professor of agricultural economics at the University of Tennessee and previously was a Texas Cooperative Extension Specialist. For more information on this endowed chair, visit:

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May 23, 2007

Vinny Naab On Making Up Sales

This season obviously has been a huge struggle for all suppliers and retailers across the Northern part of the country and the Atlantic coastal markets in the North. This has really tested their limits as a supplier. The question is, “How far back can anyone come when you are down around 50 percent from a year ago, after what should have been your best couple of weeks in April?” For more, visit:

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May 16, 2007

Seeley Conference Addresses Profit Squeeze

The title and topic of this year’s Seeley Conference is “Profit Squeeze: Is There A Solution?” The emphasis won’t be on cost cutting but on aligning your operation to benefit your customer. Dates are June 23-26 at Cornell University in Ithaca, N.Y. For more details, visit:

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