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...
Four Star Greenhouse Proven Winner Plants At English Garden

May 26, 2015

Retailer To Grower: It’s Time To Offer Services To Local Garden Centers, Too

Retailers wonder why mass merchants are the only ones to receive stocking, merchandising and plant care from growers.

Read More
Greenhouse Electrical System

May 26, 2015

Don’t Let Your Greenhouse Electrical System Come Up Short – Part 1

Ensuring your greenhouse has enough electricity to operate all the equipment that is installed takes planning and consideration of an operation's needs. Part one of two articles on greenhouse electrical systems covers choosing an electrician, meeting immediate and future needs and planning for back-up power.

Read More

May 22, 2015

Nexus Greenhouses Is Optimistic For Expansion Into New Markets

Cheryl Longtin and Mike Porter, who own Nexus Corporation, say they were excited to attend the grand opening of Gotham Greens’ new structure atop the new Whole Foods grocery store in the Gowanus neighborhood in Brooklyn, N.Y., when it opened in December 2013. The project is just one example of some of the new and expanding markets that Nexus Corporation has expanded into over the past few years. Jeff Warschauer, vice president of sales for Nexus, says the company has enjoyed getting to know and working with the founders of Gotham Greens, Viraj Puri and Eric Haley, and Jennifer Nelkin Frymark, the chief agriculture officer, on their innovative approach to business. “They are very excited and work hard internally – just great people,” he says. “From our perspective, it’s great to see that excitement and vision. The employees there are happy and there’s no turnover; they’re only adding new people […]

Read More
Latest Stories
people-of-Battlefield

May 13, 2015

Battlefield Farms Receives MPS-A Qualification

Battlefield Farms, Inc., in Rapidan, Va., has been awarded the MPS-A qualification after becoming a participant for MPS-ABC in 2010. After four years of showing effort and improvement, the company has been awarded the qualification.

Read More
Barry_Sturdivant_columnpic

May 8, 2015

How To Survive Succession Planning And Resolve Conflic…

If you work in agriculture, you most likely work with family-owned businesses. This is especially true within the greenhouse industry. I’m fortunate to work for a company that specializes in financing and supporting such businesses. Family-owned businesses often have a level of commitment and support that helps during lean times. This is important for a company exposed to seasonality and events that are sometimes beyond management’s control. Business owners and management are constantly looking for solutions to the unique issues faced by these small but complex businesses. Specifically, how these issues affect the transition from one generation to the next. There are many family enterprise success stories, cases of harmony, health and longevity. Yet it’s no secret that family businesses can struggle with governance, leadership transitions and even survival. According to the Family Business Institute, only 30 percent of family businesses last into the second generation, 12 percent remain viable […]

Read More

April 30, 2015

North Creek Nurseries Welcomes Nikki Drake As New Finan…

Nikki Drake will fill the role of new financial administrator at North Creek Nurseries, with responsibility for the accounting department. She will also serve on the strategic planning committee.

Read More
Andy Huntington Pleasant View

April 29, 2015

Pleasant View Gardens Promotes Andy Huntington to Natio…

Pleasant View Gardens recently announced that Andy Huntington will be the company’s National Sales Manager. Huntington, who has years of horticulture industry experience, will oversee national territory and inside sales departments, while fostering strong partnerships with customers. “Our relationships with customers are central to all that we do at Pleasant View,” Huntington says. “In my new role, I am excited to work with a broader base of broker, grower and retail partners to understand their business needs. Pleasant View’s goal is to be so in tune with our customers that we are able to anticipate their problems before they arise.” Huntington has a history of growing sales and forming long-lasting relationships with a diverse customer base. For the past two years, he has been working as a territory account manager for Pleasant View Gardens, responsible for young plant liner sales in New England and New York. Prior to that, Huntington was […]

Read More
PittMoss on Shark Tank

April 22, 2015

PittMoss Wins On Shark Tank

Mont Handley, president and CEO of PittMoss, appeared on ABC’s Shark Tank on April 17 to try to get the “sharks” to invest in his peat moss alternative. Three investors from the TV show contributed $600,000 to PittMoss for a 35 percent stake in the company. Check out this clip from ABC’s website in which Mark Cuban, Kevin O’Leary and Robert Herjavec discuss getting on board with the product. PittMoss is an alternative to sphagnum peat moss, made up of a mix of proprietary additives and recycled paper rescued from landfill space. Handley founded the Pittsburgh-based company in 1994. What started as a small experiment grew into a full-fledged business with the help of funding provided by an EPA SBIR grant and Pittsburgh’s Idea Foundry. Today, PittMoss is available to commercial greenhouses and nurseries from Michigan to Maine to North Carolina, with plans to grow. To learn more, visit PittMoss’ website, or check it […]

Read More
Syngenta logo

April 15, 2015

Syngenta Names Chris Freeman Senior Key Account Manager…

Chris Freeman is the new senior key account manager for Syngenta Flowers, Home & Garden's Commercial Sales business in the Americas, effective March 2015. Freeman, who joined Syngenta in 2006, carries more than 25 years of experience in the agriculture and floriculture business.

Read More
Lake Buchanan_LCRA

April 10, 2015

USDA Designates Areas Of West And Southwest As Drought …

The ongoing drought has resulted in disaster area designations in counties across nine Western and Southwestern states, including Texas, where some reservoirs are at or near historically low levels.

Read More

April 9, 2015

Altman Plants’ Online Cactus Shop Shows Strong Sa…

Altman Plants recently opened its new Cactus Shop, an online retail store that sells a variety of cactus and succulents. The store is a take-off of Altman’s original wholesale business, as the company started as a mail order catalog.

Read More
Dummen

April 8, 2015

Dümmen Group Welcomes Jim Devereux And Andrew Konicki T…

Dümmen group recently announced the addition of Jim Devereux and Andrew Konicki to its team. They are the newest members of the Key Account and Broker Support team for Dümmen, and will be responsible for building, developing and maintaining current broker and grower customer relationships.

Read More
Gov._Jerry_Brown_California

April 8, 2015

California Institutes First Ever Statewide Mandatory Wa…

California Gov. Jerry Brown announced April 1 that, for the first time in state history, action will be taken to implement mandatory water restrictions, with the ultimate goal of reducing water usage by 25 percent. As Californians are pushed to conserve more, growers will need to think about how demand for products will be affected.

Read More
DNA-logo

March 31, 2015

DNA Green Group Will Acquire Rijnplant

DNA Green Group and Riknplant have finalized DNA Green Group's acquisition of Rijnplant, meaning that the breeding and propagation activities in pot and cut anthurium, bougainvillea and heliconia will transfer to DNA Green Group.

Read More
AFE scholarship_Ryan Dickson

March 25, 2015

AFE Educational Grant And Scholarship Application Deadl…

Apply now for American Floral Endowment (AFE) scholarships or educational grants. Applications can be found online. For educational grants for 2015-2016, applications must be submitted no later than June 1. Scholarship applications are due May 1. AFE will award $40,000 in scholarships for 2015.

Read More

March 23, 2015

UF/IFAS Appoints Joseph Albano As Director Of Mid-Flori…

The University of Florida's Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (UF/IFAS) has a new directors for its Mid-Florida Research and Education Center (REC) on Apopka, Fla. The role has been filled by Joseph Albano, a research horticulturist from the U.S. Department of Agriculture with more than 25 years of experience.

Read More

March 17, 2015

Pike Nurseries Implements Employee Stock Ownership Plan

Independent garden retailer Pike Nurseries has announced it will become an employee-owned company. Pike Nurseries management has combined with its sister corporation in California, Armstrong Garden Centers, to operate under an established Employee Stock Ownership Plan (ESOP).

Read More
GrowIt! App Wins Gold At Design100 2014 US Mobile & App Design Awards

March 10, 2015

GrowIt! Mobile App Now Available For Android

The mobile app GrowIt! Garden Socially can now be used by gardeners with Android-based smartphones. Now available on the Google Play Market, GrowIt! helps users find plants to fit their lifestyle and connect them with other local gardeners.

Read More

March 4, 2015

Second Annual GreenhouseConnect Will Bring Growers and …

Following a successful inaugural event in Tampa last fall, Greenhouse Grower has announced the dates of its second annual GreenhouseConnect: October 26-29, 2015. Representatives of an expected two dozen leading greenhouse operations from across the U.S. will join senior-level suppliers at Rancho Bernardo Inn in San Diego for several days of one-on-one strategic meetings, a growers-only roundtable, informational sessions and a variety of networking events.

Read More

March 4, 2015

Maryland Green Industry Associations Unite

The Maryland Nursery and Landscape Association recently announced that it is expanding its reach to include the greenhouse industry, meaning it has become The Maryland Nursery, Landscape and Greenhouse Association (MNLGA). The change comes as a result of the planned dissolution of the former Maryland Greenhouse Growers Association and the invitation for those members to join the existing and renamed association.

Read More
IPPS Sharing Plant Production Knowledge Globally Logo

February 25, 2015

International Plant Propagators Western Region Sets Ann…

The annual meet for the International Plant Propagators' Society (IPPS) Western Region has been set for this September. It will take place September 23 to 26 in Modesto, Calif., and will include learning sessions, tours to local nurseries, a research poster display and poster presentations, various networking opportunities and an awards banquet to close the event.

Read More