June 9, 2008
Forty-two years ago this month, I started my career as assistant professor and marketing specialist of horticulture at Michigan State University (MSU). John Carew, the chairperson of the horticulture department, gave me my job description. He said, "Create or discover new knowledge and disseminate it." It sounded easy enough, but I had yet to learn all the stages that were involved in achieving that goal. The major job at hand was that the industry was very small. The total floriculture industry in Michigan was about $8 million in value. About 80 percent of that value was in the hands of 20 percent of the growers. At the time that I started, cut flowers were the largest part of the industry, followed by potted plants. Bedding plants made up a very small part of the business. The traditional flower growers used clay pots and would never have considered growing in flats […]
June 6, 2008
Sweet Home Alabama
Growing Profits Shed Nursery is a specialist in coleus and perillas, but offers a wide range of products to customers. The business was founded by Robert C. Baker (Spokey) and is now run by his son and daughter-in-law, David and Cheryl Baker. Since the operation changed hands in 1996, a turning point for Shed was when the Huntsville Botanical Gardens took the operation on as a main annual and perennial grower. Baker credits the gardens for discovering Shed Nursery. “From there, doors opened up,” she says. “I won several first-place trophies at the growers’ convention, and had a lot of people looking into my booth who were bigger growers than me, breeders from all over the world.” What they find at Shed is premium plants. A partner and breeder in the Proven Winners program, Shed Nursery recently cleared 10 acres of land for a new ball and burlap yard, which […]
June 6, 2008
Are You Acting Insane?
You’ll hear it every now and again–the definition of insanity is trying the same thing over and over expecting different results. While you may never get rid of plant staples like marigolds and geraniums completely, I tend to agree with Tom Batt, our Q&A subject in this month’s BenchPress, on new plant introductions. Batt, Hines Horticulture’s new vice president of sales and marketing, compares plant products to pharmaceutical products. Consumers are always looking for something new, even in the medications they take. Whether the problem is restless leg syndrome or a garden bed lacking pep, new products solve old problems in new ways–sometimes in ways consumers didn’t know were possible. How will we truly know what the best varieties are, from a sales perspective, if growers don’t take risks along with breeders and put new products out in the market? I’ve seen retailers this spring do a good job sharing […]
May 14, 2008
Hortica Names New Board Chair And Member
Todd Bachman was recently named the new chairman of the board of directors at Hortica Insurance & Employee Benefits, replacing M. James Leider. Bachman is chairman and CEO of Bachman’s Inc., a Minnesota-based floral, gift, garden and nursery retailer and wholesaler. He has served on Hortica’s board of directors since 1996 and on the boards of the Minnesota Nursery & Landscape Association Foundation, American Floral Endowment, OFA and North Central Florists Association. In addition, Randy Tagawa joined Hortica as a new board member. He is CEO of Tagawa Greenhouse Enterprises, LLC, a division of the family business founded in 1967 by his grandparents. Tagawa has also served on the boards of the Colorado Floriculture Foundation and Colorado Greenhouse Growers Association.
April 9, 2008
Hortica Names New President
Mona Haberer was recently named president and CEO of Hortica Insurance & Employee Benefits, specialists who’ve provided business insurance, employee benefits and personal insurance to the horticulture industry since 1887. Haberer replaces Robert McClellan, who retired after 21 years with Hortica. He served as the company’s president and CEO since 1994. “Bob has been an excellent mentor and friend who retires with a knowledgeable management team in place,” Haberer says. “Hortica is financially strong and well positioned for growth. We’re excited about our plans to grow Hortica Insurance & Employee Benefits and to remain true to our niche as the largest insurer in the United States dedicated to the horticultural industry.” Haberer has been with Hortica for nearly 20 years. She most recently served as CFO, treasurer and senior vice president.
March 12, 2008
Gro ‘N Sell Quadruples Perennials Capacity
Perennial young plant specialist Gro ‘N Sell in Chalfont, Pa., has been able to dramatically expand production capacity through a partnership with Lucas Greenhouses in Monroeville, N.J. Gro ‘N Sell markets its perennial liner under the Burly Family, comprised of three sizes–Big Burly, Burly Jr. and the new Little Jr. The Burly Jr. line is shifting form 50s to larger 72s. “The Burly Family of perennials is now better sized for specific container needs while maintaining predictable quality and finishing for our grower customers in a compressed window,” says Gro ‘N Sell’s owner Dave Eastburn. “Combining our experience and expertise in perennials with increased production, simplified sizes, competitive price points and expanded varieties will further ensure our customers’ success.” For more information, visit www.gro-n-sell.com.
February 27, 2008
Hybrid Truck Qualifies For Tax Incentive
Purchasers of certain Kenworth medium duty hybrid vehicles in the United States are eligible for a tax credit of up to $12,000, under a qualified hybrid motor vehicle credit available from the federal government. The U.S. Department of Treasury’s heavy manufacturing and transportation group recently certified the tax incentive eligibility of both the Kenworth T370 Class 7 and Kenworth T270 Class 6 hybrid models in two applications. A $12,000 credit, the maximum for Class 7 hybrids, is available for the T370 hybrid in both utility boom and pickup and delivery vehicles when equipped with a PACCAR PX-6 engine and an Eaton hybrid system. A $6,000 credit is the maximum for Class 6 hybrids, and it’s available for both the Kenworth T270 hybrid utility boom and pickup and delivery vehicles. It’s only available, though, when equipped with a PACCAR PX-6 engine and an Eaton hybrid system. “These federal tax credits serve […]
February 27, 2008
Pike Nurseries Up For Auction
Atlanta’s leading garden center chain Pike Family Nurseries went on the auction block yesterday, a little more than three months after the company filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. The outcome of the auction is not public yet, but at least five bidders have expressed interest in the 50-year-old family business founded by the Pike family and more recently owned by venture capitalists, Roark Capital Group, a private equity firm that bought Pike in 2004. Any final bid for the company must be approved by the bankruptcy judge. The next step is a public hearing tomorrow in federal bankruptcy court in Atlanta, according to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. The newspaper also published an extensive interview with Pike’s CEO Scott Schnell, who joined the company a year ago. He comments on the factors that led Pike to bankruptcy and prospects for the future. Read the article here. The blogosphere also has been […]
February 20, 2008
New Industry Blog Focuses On Economics
Ag economist Charlie Hall, who holds the Ellison Chair in International Floriculture at Texas A&M, is posting regular commentary on his new blog, “Making Cents Of Green Industry Economics.” Regarding the launch of the blog, Hall says, “We in the green industry are facing uncertain times over the course of the next 18 months. As a means of addressing the major i ssues facing the industry (e.g. potential recession, low pricing, reduced profitability, a maturing marketplace, water shortages, etc.), there is a need for careful economic analysies in order to make more informed managerial decisions regarding the strategies needed to survive and compete profitably.” Recent postings ponder how consumers will spend their tax rebates and how to combat falling consumer confidence. Check out the latest postings at http://ellisonchair.blogspot.com This is one you’ll want to bookmark or receive RSS feeds from.
February 6, 2008
Langeveld International Goes Out Of Business
Believe it or not, it was banking and currency issues that ended up putting bulb and perennial broker Langeveld International out of business. In December, due to the strength of the euro and a large overhead in Holland, Langeveld was moving its production and warehouse facilities to the United States while filing for bankruptcy in Holland. In the United States, Langeveld was owned by a capital investment company called Oryx capital in Chicago. Because the new entity had no credit history, vendors of the former Langeveld Bulb Co. needed bank guarantees for them to start shipping product again. According to sales representative Frank Riteco, Oryx and the banks were not processing guarantees quickly enough and Langeveld’s buyers in Holland advised growers not to ship product until they would receive the guarantees. “Our buyers didn’t want our growers to take the risk that they might never get paid for their product […]
January 9, 2008
Bell Expands Into Virginia
Bell Nursery has expanded its market footprint into Virginia and North Carolina after acquiring Virginia Growers in Montpelier, Va. Virginia Growers was founded in 1985 by Neil Van Wingerden and has been owned and operated by Jonathan and Andy Van Wingerden and Brett Guthrie. The operation has more than 12 acres of outdoor production space and 325,000 square feet of greenhouse space. This marks the second big acquisition for Bell Nursery within the past two months. Based in Burtonsville, Md., Bell Nursery supplies plants to Home Depot and others in the mid-Atlantic region, as well as Cincinnati, Columbus and Dayton, Ohio, after acquiring Ulery Greenhouse Co. in Springfield, Ohio. “We are very excited about this additional expansion in Virginia,” says, Gary Mangum of Bell Nursery. “Virginia Growers have built a strong reputation based on a quality and a well-run family business.” He adds the first difference consumers will notice […]
December 5, 2007
VIEWS: More On Pricing
Richard Wilson of Colorama Wholesale Nursery in California chimes in on last week’s discussion related to the ability of manufacturers to set retail pricing. “On the subject of the article, ‘Can manufacturers establish retails?’ they are already doing so,” he says. “One of the big seed companies has sold some of its products to a major big box. They provided the retail with the cost breakdown going back to the grower. In this particular instance, the cost analysis came out to where we were still making a decent net profit. But who is to say in the future when they (big box) will tell you what you will charge them because XYZ seed/vegetative producer has sold them on a new ‘loaf of sliced bread’ and we have to live with the cost analysis of someone who might not know the entire picture, especially if it is a national program.” We […]