March 2, 2012

Mangum Scholarship Encourages Studies In Ornamental Horticulture

The Robert and Shirley Mangum Memorial Scholarship is now accepting applications from Montgomery County residents interested in pursuing studies and careers in the fields of ornamental horticulture, floriculture, greenhouse growing, interior landscaping and related studies. The deadline for application is April 27, and the winner will be notified in May. Administered by the Montgomery County Farm Bureau, the $2000 Mangum Memorial Scholarship is awarded annually to a county resident who has demonstrated character, scholarship and talent, and who is interested in pursuing an education and eventual career in the Maryland horticultural industry.  Previous coursework and experience should demonstrate an interest in the horticulture industry as a whole.  The applicant must have excellent references from employers, instructors, and/or industry contacts. Other requirements include an overall grade point average of 3.0 or greater in their current studies. The scholarship can be used to attend any accredited two-year or four-year educational institution located within the United […]

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February 28, 2012

Fostering Gen Y Growers

For kids who consider themselves “plant nerds,” a high school horticulture program can provide a much-needed escape from the daily grind of traditional learning. The sad truth, however, is that many of these programs lack adequate funding, equipment and instruction to encourage high schoolers enough to make horticulture a career. In his December editorial on GreenhouseGrower.com, Ryan Knauer, a grower for Gro’n Sell, addressed the value of fostering the next generation’s passion for plants through better high school programming. Knauer argued that investing in future growers should be a priority, and donating resources and offering support empowers kids to view a career in the horticulture industry as an attractive choice. Today’s High School Programs Young plant and garden aficionados have a few options if they choose to explore a career in horticulture. Knauer’s high school program was part of the vocational tech school or career center. The program, which was […]

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January 26, 2012

Growers Should Open Their Eyes To Opportunities

Adapt or die. Well, death as a consequence is probably a bit extreme. The adapt-or-become-irrelevant concept, however, has never been truer for greenhouse floriculture. These are tough times. Unfair times, even. But the more your business’s value proposition mirrors your neighbor’s, the closer you are to becoming irrelevant. Silver Vase, the South Florida orchid and bromeliad grower, recently faced these facts and decided to change its value proposition. As an orchid grower, Silver Vase is already somewhat unique in that it sources some young plant varieties from Europe, where it pays a premium price for material it considers hardier. Still, Silver Vase hasn’t stopped there in differentiating itself. By now, the industry is well aware of Silver Vase’s dye-infused Mystique orchid line. The dye-infusion technique may represent everything you’re not as a horticulturist. But the dye-infusion question the industry should really be asking is, “Can we capture new customers and […]

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January 26, 2012

Are Kids Thinking About Gardening? Hell No!

Christmas has come and gone. So has the end of the year and a little time for reflection. It’s one year later and one year older for all of us, including my demon grandchildren. As I spent time with the wonderful little monsters over the winter holiday, I started thinking back about the experiences they had with plants and gardens. I wondered if they might become interested in gardening a little more this year. After all, we as an industry are always discussing our angst about young people not gardening, and I wanted to be part of the conversation. Is There Hope?We occasionally host school kids in the trial gardens at the University of Georgia. These kids enjoy the beauty and the stories, but really, what choice do they have – their teachers brought them. Nope, I wanted to check out real kids, like my crazy brood. You think I […]

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January 26, 2012

Better Communication Equals More Profit

Everyone is trying to manage costs, inventory, labor and margins and increase turns. Goals like these aren’t unique to our industry. They’re common for all businesses. The group Greenhouse Grower brought together last year at The Grow Summit shares these goals. Businesses from all areas of greenhouse floriculture were present, and we discussed how we can address the industry’s many concerns. Consumers were a big part of our discussions. If we can get consumers to have a higher perceived value and a good experience with our products, they’ll pay more. We see other industries that are successful in this approach. So how can we increase margins and the perceived value of our products and services? Communicate With Consumers Let’s start by facing the facts: Most consumers today are not avid gardeners. People want their yard to be nice, but they have limited time for research or maintenance. They want a […]

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January 23, 2012

What Should Our Marketing Message Be?

When the subject of a national marketing effort comes up in the industry, the debate begins as to how it will be paid for, but what would the marketing message for a national campaign be? Here’s what garden centers and growers have tried in the past and a few nuggets of ideas to kick around.  Life.PlantLife The message: Shows some simple images of life without plants – then life with plants. From Laurie Scullin and Frank Zaunscherb of ZMI Marketing. “An advantage to us all using the same slogan is we could support the slogan with a website – with public relations and social media outreach (think Facebook for plants). Think about a bunch of YouTube videos all with fun information on plants and all telling the world how great plants are,” Scullin says. America In Bloom America in Bloom promotes nationwide beautification through education and community involvement by encouraging […]

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January 20, 2012

Silver Vase’s Latest Innovation

Silver Vase made such a splash with ‘Blue Mystique’ at the 2011 Tropical Plant Industry Exhibition that topping the orchid introduction this year was quite the challenge. Still, Silver Vase continues to innovate with this week’s introduction of Phalaenopsis orchids in a variety of new shapes. The new Silver line forms Phalaenopsis orchids into hearts, circles, cascades and other shapes. The possibilities with new shapes really are endless. Silver Vase’s innovation simply takes an existing product and presents it in ways in which most consumers have never seen orchids. “The key for us is we have to train the product to be that shape,” says Marcella Lucio, Silver Vase’s marketing director. Silver Vase actually got the idea for the new shapes just two months ago at a tradeshow in the Netherlands. Growing orchids into hearts and circles certainly is more challenging, but there are price rewards to it. “We’re taking […]

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January 6, 2012

Can A National Marketing Campaign Work?

What do we stand for as an industry? Do we have a common marketing message or goal? If we don’t, is there still a way to market our industry in a big way to new generations of gardeners? Joining together for a national promotion order is a technique that has worked for other industries. The idea has popped up several times over the years in our industry, but it has never gained enough traction to become a reality, because a promotion campaign means different things to different people. Igniting A Conversation Recently, former OFA president Danny Takao reinvigorated the conversation with an idea for a marketing order with an association-based collection mechanism. As he wrote in an essay for GreenhouseGrower.com, “What if a non-profit organization could be the funding/collecting mechanism via assessed yearly dues? Instead of focusing on one group, we assess the complete supply chain based on annual sales. […]

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January 6, 2012

Plant Sales: Quality Over Quantity

It’s a phrase growers are painfully familiar with when talking with customers: “Sharpen your pencil – we need a better price.” In a competitive market, the tendency is to do whatever it takes to make the sale. That often means beating the lowest number out there. At some point, however, low prices add up to unsustainably low profits. “You can sell a lot of product at a low price, but if the market drops, all of a sudden you don’t have enough cash flow to pay the bills,” says Ed Kiley, sales and marketing director for The Perennial Farm. “To generate cash you have to sell more product, but you may have to cut your price to do that. Ultimately you’ll sell yourself out of business.” A competitive price is important, but selling the value of your products and your business is a surer path to success. Price For Profit […]

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January 6, 2012

The Grower-Retailer Relationship: We’re All In This Together

In Greenhouse Grower’s December issue, we published a feature from the green goods merchandise managers at Swansons Nursery in Seattle, Wash. – “A Retail Perspective: 11 Ways Growers Can Help Us.” We followed that up with another list from the team a couple of weeks later: “12 More Ways Growers Can Enhance their Retailer Relationships.” The Swansons team made a number of progressive recommendations that growers could adopt to help retailers, including: Make better use of available technologies for consistency and accuracy in ordering and billing. Make sure all incoming plants meet the retailer’s quality standard. Invoice by individual plant type rather than the more generic “premium annual.” It was a wish list that would make any retailer’s life easier. And it also laid a lot of the responsibility for change at the feet of growers. So, I wasn’t surprised when much of the feedback we received on the articles […]

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December 21, 2011

Lloyd Traven On Retailer Relationships & Marketing Directly To Consumers

GG: What are the characteristics of the very best grower-retailer relationships? LT: We truly believe the grower-retailer relationship needs to be a partnership. The feeling we get from some customers is that (growers) are the enemy; that we’re the adversary trying to steal money from them. What they’re not seeing is that we both work for the same person. And that’s Mrs. Smith. Retailers don’t understand that we’re 100 percent invested in their success. Because if they don’t sell, then I don’t have any customers. I’m there to help. I want feedback on what you’re looking for. What is it your customers are looking for? Have you actually asked your customer, or are you just seeing what you like? What we want in return is when we provide very good quality material and the consumer comes in and reacts to it, I expect you to reward our company and buy […]

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December 9, 2011

8 Ways To Speak To Consumers

I attend trade shows that revolve around fashion, design and gifts. Why? For inspiration and ideas. I truly believe if we only stick to the horticulture industry for our ideas, we will severely limit our sources of inspiration and potentially miss important changes in consumer expectations. While attending a New York gift show recently, I was struck by how many different products, gadgets and packaging were geared to solutions for a consumer who is starved for time. Convenience seems to be a general theme, and convenience certainly lends itself to gardening. Here are eight ways to provide such convenience and other factors consumers are looking for: 1 Speak Plainly Our consumer wants the look of a beautiful garden but, frankly, doesn’t have the time to research what will work. We need to educate her in simple terms with how-to recipes that include her ingredients (plants) and specifically how to plant […]

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