What Goes Around Comes Around

My wife’s mother often used the statement in the headline to indicate what you did in the past will come around to haunt you in the future. She was one of the kindest and most considerate people I have ever met. She worked hard, took care of her home, was a great cook and would never say a bad word about anyone. Some people were less than kind to her, but she would always say, “What goes around will come around.”

I’ve thought about her and her saying, and in the last couple of months, I’ve come to the conclusion: “Here we go again.”

In the last two to three weeks, I have read 20 to 30 business and management magazines, listened to television news and even checked the Internet to determine what the feeling is regarding our business position.

Most now acknowledge we are in a recession. With 10 percent national unemployment and almost 20 percent in Michigan, some might say that it is a depression. However, we must realize we have been the richest country in the world since our colonial days.

In an article in March’s U.S. News & World Report, Rich Newman asked, “Are we becoming a soft society afraid to fail and try again?” Let’s take a look at floriculture and the greenhouse industry to see if we are able to fail and try again.

Glancing Back

In the 1930s, our industry had a very formal market structure. There was the grower who sold to the wholesaler who sold to the retailer. Because most of the product at that time was cut flowers and some potted plants, the system was very efficient. Even though the grower thought the wholesaler was making too much money and the retailer thought the price of the product was too high, the system worked fairly well.

In the 1950s, former vegetable field growers started producing flowers and vegetable transplants. Most of these products were not sold through wholesalers, but directly to small independent stores.

I remember going to my local hardware store and seeing wooden flats of tomatoes, peppers, petunias and impatiens for sale by the plant. Most people would buy a dozen. The plants were cut out of the flat and wrapped in newspaper. At that time, the plants sold for three to five cents apiece.

By the early 1960s, the products being developed by the vegetable and bedding plant growers no longer fit into the formal marketing system. In the early 1950s, cut flowers were the largest part of floriculture with potted plants second, foliage plants third and bedding plants last.

In the last 50 years, we have made bedding plants the largest part of floriculture. Cut flower production has moved to South America. Production of potted plants has not increased greatly percentage-wise, nor has production of foliage plants.

Lesson To Be Learned

In the July 2009 issue of Time magazine, there is an article titled “What Barack Obama Can Learn from FDR.” When FDR was elected in 1932, he faced a tremendous job restoring the economy and getting people back to work. It couldn’t be done in 100 days. It took years to bring back the economic system with the guidance and help of the federal government.

FDR’s goal was to develop programs that provided security and safety for the country. He started the Social Security system and the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC). His administration developed plans for infrastructure, banking, the arts, agriculture, labor, the environment, welfare, housing and unemployment.

With the people and government working together, we took the country from the dark days of the 1929 stock market crash and turned it back into a strong, stable society by 1945. During this time, our country also helped win World War II at a great cost to our soldiers and at great expense to those who supported them at home.

Some people say it took seven years for the United States to recover from the 1929 stock market crash, while others say it took 25 years. Now, more than 70 years later, we have some of the same situations that existed in the early 1930s. What goes around comes around.

In floriculture we see a marketing system that looks like it’s reverted to that of the 1930s to 1950s, with growers, wholesalers and retailers, only today the large growers may also be the wholesalers. They are the ones who deal with the big box stores and use smaller growers to provide the product they can’t or don’t want to produce themselves.

Our safety net for our employees may be as poor as it was in the 1940s to 1950s. Many have lost over 30 to 40 percent of their retirement savings because of the financial disaster of Wall Street and unscrupulous bankers.

While the environment sounds like gloom and doom, we need to make our plans to not only survive but also thrive under these conditions. I have eight ideas I think might help in deciding how to survive and thrive in the next 10 years.

The Ideas

• Successful businesses are founded on need. Do you provide what people want and need? Are you able to produce it when they want and need it? Can it be done profitably?

• In times like these, your business has a chance to show its strength. If you have the right employees, they have the right skills and you have a vision of what must be done, then you have what it takes to survive this difficult economic time.

• Be original! Remember, if you have the right people and the right facilities, one original thought can be worth more than 1,000 questions asking: “What should we do?”

• Learn from experience. It is important to know that the only thing more painful than learning from experience is not learning from experience.

• Time is important. Time cannot be expanded, contracted, accelerated, slowed, mortgaged or saved. You have to use time wisely. Every minute counts. Use it or lose it! But remember, you will never get it back!

• Don’t be afraid to make mistakes. It is always discouraging to make a mistake, but it is humiliating when you find out nobody even noticed. You will try lots of things. Many will not work and fail quickly. At least people will know you are doing something, and one day you may be successful. However, you will never succeed if you don’t try.

• Let people know who the leader is. It doesn’t matter what direction you point. You need to provide the guidance and enthusiasm to let people know where you want to go and what you want to do.

• Be an entrepreneur. You are given a blank canvas and you must paint the picture. It may take many people to create the finished product, but you are the one who must have the vision of what it will look like in the end.

All these points prove what my mother-in-law, Lola Beauchamp, told me 50 years ago. We are in a recession or a depression right now. Good luck in adjusting to this part of the cycle.

Leave a Reply

More From Finance/Operations...
Katherine Wolper

January 24, 2016

Ludvig Svensson Hires Katherine Wolper As West Coast Sales Manager

Wolper says she looks forward to listening to growers and understanding the concerns, obstacles, and opportunities they face.

Read More

January 20, 2016

Tips For Overcoming Challenges In Family Business From The Owners Of Costa Farms

Our industry is run by a collection of family businesses, and every one, no matter how big or small, has its share of management issues. But there are several differences between one that is run successfully as a business and one that allows family politics to distract from the organization’s goals. In this year’s State Of The Industry Survey, we noted that labor recruitment and succession are two areas where growers struggle. In talking with the owners of Costa Farms for this month’s cover story, I thought some of the values they have incorporated into the operation’s management structure really stood out as practices that other family businesses could use. The participatory management approach to business and team building is one that Tony Costa, the second-generation owner of Costa Farms, instilled in his children, Maria Costa-Smith and Jose Costa, and son-in-law, Joche Smith, the current owners of Costa Farms. In […]

Read More
I-9 Form

January 13, 2016

Proposed Changes To I-9 Form Important For Greenhouse Growers

AmericanHort’s Government Relations and Grassroots Representative Davi Bowen says growers need to become familiar with the new form and should be prepared to make comments if necessary.

Read More
Latest Stories
Katherine Wolper

January 24, 2016

Ludvig Svensson Hires Katherine Wolper As West Coast Sa…

Wolper says she looks forward to listening to growers and understanding the concerns, obstacles, and opportunities they face.

Read More

January 20, 2016

Tips For Overcoming Challenges In Family Business From …

Our industry is run by a collection of family businesses, and every one, no matter how big or small, has its share of management issues. But there are several differences between one that is run successfully as a business and one that allows family politics to distract from the organization’s goals. In this year’s State Of The Industry Survey, we noted that labor recruitment and succession are two areas where growers struggle. In talking with the owners of Costa Farms for this month’s cover story, I thought some of the values they have incorporated into the operation’s management structure really stood out as practices that other family businesses could use. The participatory management approach to business and team building is one that Tony Costa, the second-generation owner of Costa Farms, instilled in his children, Maria Costa-Smith and Jose Costa, and son-in-law, Joche Smith, the current owners of Costa Farms. In […]

Read More
I-9 Form

January 13, 2016

Proposed Changes To I-9 Form Important For Greenhouse G…

AmericanHort’s Government Relations and Grassroots Representative Davi Bowen says growers need to become familiar with the new form and should be prepared to make comments if necessary.

Read More

January 13, 2016

Wenke Greenhouses Buys Zylstra Greenhouses

Two Kalamazoo, MI-based greenhouses have merged after Wenke Greenhouses closed on Zylstra Greenhouses at the end of November. The additional property and facilities will allow Wenke Greenhouses to expand its young plant business, among other areas.

Read More

January 13, 2016

Costa Farms Wins With Its Emphasis On Team, Solutions, …

Based in Miami, FL, Costa Farms has gone global by focusing on strategy, systems, and vertical integration. See how the operation continues to expand through its emphasis on team, solutions, and growth.

Read More

January 11, 2016

New Transportation Funding Bill Is Good News For Floric…

According to AmericanHort, perhaps the biggest benefit of the new bill is what it doesn’t include: a proposed amendment that would have prohibited the use of federal funds for vegetative enhancements.

Read More

December 29, 2015

The Home Depot Says No To Neonics

The Home Depot plans to phase out neonicotinoids by 2018, according to a recent statement on the company’s website. The large home improvement retailer stated that its live goods suppliers have reduced the number of plants that they treat with neonicotinoids, and now more than 80% of all flowering plants sold at The Home Depot are not treated with neonicotinoids. The retailer said it will continue this decrease unless: Treatment is required by state or federal regulation, or Undisputed science proves that the use of neonicotinoids on live goods does not have a lethal or sub-lethal effect on pollinators Aside from these exceptions, the retailer has implemented a complete phase-out of neonicotinoid use on live goods by the end of 2018. Meanwhile, The Home Depot has required all of its live goods suppliers to label plants that have been treated with neonicotinoids. “The Home Depot is deeply engaged in understanding the […]

Read More
Gardeners of all ages enjoyed the annual plant sale at McCorkle Nurseries

December 22, 2015

Allan Armitage Explains Why People Will Always Want To …

We may believe that an appreciation for gardening and plants is rapidly draining away, but there is reason to hope.

Read More
Canadian Greenhouse Conference 2015

December 21, 2015

Presentations From Canadian Greenhouse Conference Avail…

Many of the talks that took place at this year’s Canadian Greenhouse Conference in Ontario focused on improving production efficiencies in the greenhouse.

Read More
Sanitation programs are essential to preventing and removing food safety concerns.

December 7, 2015

How The Finalized Produce Safety Rule Will Affect Green…

While the new rule from FDA has many exemptions that will likely apply to greenhouse growers, the reality is that buyers may still require strict adherence to food safety standards.

Read More
Smith Gardens Marysville outdoor field production

November 30, 2015

Why Smith Gardens’ Marysville, WA, Facility Is A Great …

Labor rates in Washington State are some of the highest in the nation, making competition for labor fierce. This is why Smith Gardens in Marysville, WA, wants to strengthen its reputation as a great place to work.

Read More
Great Lakes Expo

November 30, 2015

6 Reasons You Should Attend The Michigan Greenhouse Gro…

The Michigan Greenhouse Growers Expo, held Dec. 8-10 in conjunction with the Great Lakes Fruit, Vegetable and Farm Market Expo, will feature an expansive trade show and several educational sessions aimed at greenhouse growers.

Read More

November 25, 2015

Everything You Need To Know About the New England GROWS…

Held In Boston December 2-4, New England GROWS includes a comprehensive conference program, a trade show, and with six special programs that teach new skills and provide opportunities to network with colleagues.

Read More

November 20, 2015

Lessons Learned From The California Drought

For those of us who live in the areas of the country that experienced harsh winters and significant rain over the past three seasons, water has become a nuisance in some cases, rather than a blessing. I can’t count the number of times I have wished to be able to send the snow or the rain to the West Coast, tied up with a big red bow. But think about how we’d feel if we didn’t have the snow and the rain, and we were experiencing the same dry conditions that the residents of California, Oregon and Washington have. With fresh water supplies dwindling in regions of the world, and the resistance of residents in states like Michigan to share water from the Great Lakes, it’s likely that the next civil or world war could be fought over our most precious resource. California’s epic drought should cause everyone to look […]

Read More
Jill Calabro

November 3, 2015

AmericanHort Names New Research And Science Programs Di…

Jill Calabro will bring strategic direction and oversight to research funding by the Horticultural Research Institute, the research affiliate of AmericanHort.

Read More
SBI’s ANY Device Application allows growers to quickly determine availability-featuer

November 2, 2015

SBI Software’s Solutions Help Simplify Logistics For G…

The company focuses on helping growers improve their existing processes with solutions for site fulfillment, replenishment, inventory management and more.

Read More
Griffin Expo15 seminar

October 28, 2015

Griffin’s Hits Record Attendance With 2015 Expos,…

Griffin Greenhouse Supplies set new attendance records with its 2015 Expos. Its 2016 Expos are set for August 31 and September 1, 2016, in West Springfield, Mass., and September 21-22, 2016, in Lancaster, Penn.

Read More

October 28, 2015

Possum Run Greenhouses Taken Over By New Owners

Justin and Lynn Marotta have placed Possum Run Greenhouse and Gifts into the hands of new owners. John and Caroline Bletner, a newly married couple, took over the Bellville, Ohio, property October 2, according to an October 24 article in the Mansfield News Journal. The Marotta family has run Possum Run Greenhouse and Gifts for 41 years. When the Marottas announced in April the greenhouse operation was for sale, they said they were looking for an energetic couple to take the business to the next level, which is what they found in the Bletners, the article reports. The Bletners have hinted they’ll be “opening to a larger market” and that the retail side will “look different.” They’ll hold a grand re-opening the week of April 22, 2016. Staff are staying on board and the Bletners are maintaining many of the suppliers. The 200-plus varieties of fuchsias Justin brought to the greenhouse […]

Read More
[gravityform id="35" title="false" description="false"]