April 23, 2013

Public Displays Can Bring In Additional Revenue

Sometimes you have to look in unusual places for customers and gamble on a new market. Or, in the case of Top 100 Grower Milgro Nursery in Newcastle, Utah, you take the plants to where the gambling is. For most of the last decade, Milgro, whose primary customers are grocery stores, has found a niche providing several of the larger casinos in Las Vegas, Nev., with the potted flowers and plants they need for their indoor displays. While sales to casinos are only a small part of Milgro’s revenue, this market provides a convenient outlet since plants can be drop-shipped on the way to other customers in California. It also gives the staff a chance to be creative and grow some less-traditional varieties of plants. We caught up with Neil Watson, general manager of Milgro Nursery, to talk about the unique opportunities and challenges in growing for public displays. GG: […]

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April 23, 2013

Costa Farms’ O2 For You Brand Celebrates Earth Day With Kids

Costa Farms‘ O2 For You brand promoted the benefits of indoor houseplants and their place in the environment, targeting kids directly with a Celebrate Earth Day promotion. Through the month of April, consumers can find O2 For You Plant Party houseplants, which are planted in kid-friendly containers. Kids can decorate the pots with a bundled Let’s Have A Party sticker book. More than 10 varieties of plants, including snake plants and ferns, are available in the Plant Party line. Click here to read about how the Plant Party went over with one blogger and her kids.  The O2 For You website encourages gardeners to host a Plant Party for kids. “Say ‘thanks’ to Mother Earth! She’s done a lot for us,” says the Costa Farms’ Earth Day website. “So it’s time to give back. Throw a planting party! Invite the kids in your life to color this page and decorate a cool potted […]

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Richard Jones

April 4, 2013

Top 100 Growers Evolve Over 25 Years

We were thinking about the past quite a bit this month as we compiled the 2013 Top 100 Growers list — for a couple of reasons. First, our Top 100 survey this year focused on advances in production. We wanted to get the perspective of the nation’s biggest growers on the most important developments over the last 30 years, both in the industry and in their own operations. You’ll see their opinions, as well as other facets of the current state of greenhouse production in this month’s cover story. And second, this is the 25th time Greenhouse Grower has published a list of the Top Growers in the country. It was fun looking back at the original list, but drawing any direct-line comparisons to the greenhouse business today was difficult. It’s striking how different today’s list is from the first one — The Top 50 Growers — back in 1987. […]

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April 3, 2013

Garden Retail Marketing Plans That Connect With Today’s Consumer

Greenhouse Grower’s sister publication, Today’s Garden Center, gathered a group of retailers, growers and other retail suppliers in the summer of 2012 to discuss where they would like to see the industry in five years and what we need to do to get there. The key issues the group identified became the focus of the 10% Project, a series of research projects and case studies Today’s Garden Center is commissioning to help the retailers grow their sales by 10 percent. One of the greatest challenges the group identified is a shrinking consumer base. Our core customers, Baby Boomers, are aging themselves out of the market. So the first 10% Project of 2013 has a modest goal — identify the likeliest potential customers and lure them into garden centers. Today’s Garden Center Editor Carol Miller recruited Dr. Bridget Behe of Michigan State University and Dr. Susan Hogan of Emory University to […]

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March 26, 2013

Promoting The Benefits Of Plants

Is there any company in the green industry, from liner producers to retailers, suppliers and all points in between, that has experienced expansive growth in the last few years? Not likely. Sure, the recent economic downturn has affected many industries, but ours has suffered more than most. Not only have the primary drivers (commercial landscaping and housing starts) withered, but our customer base has shrunk and our products are becoming increasingly irrelevant. The Baby Boomers, who were our bread and butter, have landscaped their now-empty nests and are not digging many more holes. The younger generations have failed to embrace the joy of creating park-like settings in their yards and are, for the most part, completely ignorant about plants. They see plants every day, but they don’t know their names and can’t distinguish one from another, so they remain strictly in the background. While most recognize beauty in plants, they […]

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February 11, 2013

Help Congress Help The Industry At Society Of American Florists’ Congressional Action Days

Every spring for the past 32 years, growers, florists and wholesalers have participated in the Society of American Florists’ annual Congressional Action Days (CAD). This year, March 11 and 12, SAF’s 33rd Annual CAD will bring the industry’s voice to Washington once again to tell representatives and senators what’s important to floral businesses. Members of Congress may think they know what’s important to business owners, but they don’t know the floral industry until the industry speaks up. Research has shown that undecided lawmakers getting ready to a vote give the most weight to the views of constituents who have visited their office in Washington. “This is an exciting time to be part of grassroots action in Washington,” says SAF Government Relations Chairman Marvin Miller. “I strongly encourage everyone to take advantage of the opportunity to really make a difference for our industry.” As the 113th Congress gets settled in, the […]

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February 8, 2013

The State Of Labor In The Greenhouse Industry

Ask any grower for thoughts on the state of labor today and you are bound to get an earful. While some people blame government crackdowns on immigration, others point the finger at lazy, over privileged Americans who would prefer not to get their hands dirty. But, there is one thing everyone agrees on: It isn’t getting any better. Although organizations like the American Nursery & Landscape Association (ANLA) and Society of American Florists (SAF) lobby year after year in favor of reforms to make it easier to hire foreign-born workers, the process is a slow one, and growers can’t afford to be shorthanded during peak production times. Some companies have implemented mechanization or automation to fill their employee gaps and lower payroll costs. Technology presents a viable option for those able to achieve a timely return on investment; however, it is easy to overinvest and rack up unnecessary debt. Operations […]

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Carole Barton

February 7, 2013

Prepare Your Greenhouse Operation For Potential Immigration Changes

Immigration is once again in the national news as bipartisan efforts to address the issue are suddenly a priority in Washington. No matter what direction a potential agreement takes, chances are that greenhouse and nursery businesses will be impacted in some fashion. That was certainly the case during the last significant round of immigration legislation at the state level following the 2010 elections. Alabama, for example, passed regulations in 2011 that mandated strict enforcement of immigration standards and required employers to use the eVerify program to ensure the legal status of prospective employees. We spoke with Carole Barton, co-owner of Barton’s Greenhouse and Nursery in Alabaster, Ala., who adapted to the new regulations in late 2011 and 2012. She described how they managed through the changes and offered some advice for other growers who might find themselves in a similar situation. GG: When we met at Greenhouse Grower’s GROW Summit […]

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Richard Jones

February 7, 2013

Make Your Vendor A Partner

I spent a few hours this week reading through the responses to Greenhouse Grower’s 2013 State of the Industry report for a project I’m working on. As always, our survey had a series of in-depth questions specifically for growers. But this year, we also polled your vendors to get a better perspective on where their segments of the market stand. Some of the most interesting responses came when we questioned growers and suppliers about each other. We asked the suppliers, “What would you like growers to do that would improve profitability for both them and your company?” And we asked growers, “Besides lowering prices, what could vendors/suppliers/distributors be doing to improve your profitability?” The responses to both questions were (mostly) calm, well-reasoned and thoughtful, and taken together, reveal some opportunities for both sides to work together better. Suppliers, for example, offered growers sound business advice on product levels, mix and […]

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February 5, 2013

Why Parks Brothers Farm’s Jason Parks Uses Social Media

Why use social media? Communicating with others online can be a powerful tool for marketing your products, but Jason Parks of Parks Brothers Farm also uses it to keep up-to-date on the world outside the greenhouse. Here’s an inside look at who he communicates with over social media and why. 1. Why use social media?  JP: The best reason to use social media is so you can converse with people in your networks who are customers, potential customers, competitors and trolls (look it up). We use social media as a communication tool that has customer service, advertising and sales benefits depending on who you are talking to and how you are conversing with them. Customers and consumers want to talk to the people who make or grow the products they buy. They want to be able to get on their computer or smartphone and communicate with someone who is involved […]

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January 31, 2013

The Art Of Selling: How To Think Like A Consultant

Forget about your needs like sales quotas, commission and sales incentives and serve your customers the way a consultant would. Focus on three things: Helping your customer make money Helping your customer save money Making your customer more competitive If you concentrate on these areas, your sales and income will increase. You will be viewed as a very successful professional.  It’s all about the customer and his issues, not about yours and your company’s. Helping the customer succeed by continually identifying problems and providing solutions will ultimately gain you the status of a trusted consultant. How do you get to the place where your customers consider you a trusted consultant? Ask and listen. Always interview the customer on every call and listen intently before forming any opinions. Be sure to take notes. Ask questions about specific major crops. For example, say something like, “Joe, tell me about your geranium program?  […]

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