January 10, 2013

Paying It Forward (opinion)

Maybe it’s the time of year that’s putting me in a reflective mood, but I want to express how grateful I am to have been involved in horticulture for so long. While it’s a competitive industry, it is also collaborative, as evidenced by the trade and professional associations that are such an important part of our business. When we announced plans to expand our GROW program, more than a dozen companies signed up almost immediately, eager to participate in solutions for the problems facing the industry today. Growers and suppliers I talk with are, without exception, willing to share their expertise with others. While I don’t have direct experience, my impression is that few other industries are as forthcoming.   Supporting Land-Grant Research Writing the article about Dick Meister and the new scholarship bearing his name was particularly pleasurable for me. As a graduate of a land-grant university myself, I […]

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January 10, 2013

Plants Bridge The Generation Gap (opinion)

This month I have a front-row seat to watch a demographic shift. My parents are moving from their house in Columbus, Ohio, to a condominium closer to me near Cleveland. Since they have been avid gardeners for decades, it means they are leaving behind many beds filled with perennials and unusual shrubs.  I doubt the new owners will know the names of all those plants, but hopefully they will appreciate their beauty as well as the excellent soil in the double-dug beds and continue to take care of the gardens. My parents, at ages 92 and 83, are part of the Greatest Generation but are joining the Baby Boomers in the downsizing shift beginning to take place in that large population. They are transitioning to a new form of gardening for them — container and small-space gardening. They, and the Boomers, will likely be joined by a population decades younger […]

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January 8, 2013

Eco-Friendly Greenhouse Racks For Your Operation

Many growers who ship locally and nationally use some type of metal carts or racks to deliver their plants. Some growers will tell you that carts are a necessary evil when it comes to moving a large quantity of plants relatively quickly. Maintaining and tracking carts during the busy spring shipping season can sometimes be overwhelming. When trying to fill orders in a timely manner, growers can be hindered if they don’t have an adequate inventory of carts and can’t recover them quickly enough to keep plants moving out to customers. Growers also have to be concerned with cart loss and theft. Packaging companies have seen the love-hate relationship growers have with carts and are working to develop economical, recyclable shipping systems to make it easier for growers to avoid the issues with cart recovery and theft. Grower-Designed Shipping System Andy Krieger, co-owner of Krieger Greenhouses in Jefferson, Iowa, started […]

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Richard Jones

January 7, 2013

Is Your Greenhouse Business Indispensable To Your Customers? [Opinion]

Quality should, obviously, be a priority for every greenhouse business and manager. But it’s not enough just to produce excellent product today. There are a lot of other growers doing that, too, and many of them are calling on your customers, trying to take some of your business for themselves. Successful growers today are finding something additional to bring to the table. This month’s cover subject, Sam Rambo, is a great example. His business, Rambo Nurseries, was a finalist for Greenhouse Grower’s Operation of the Year Award in 2012 because he has uncovered ways to offer products and services to his customers that others can’t, or at least haven’t. The model that is working well for this operation — being a single-source supplier for 54 Home Depot locations in the Southeast and maintaining a full-time staff of merchandisers in the stores — isn’t unique to Rambo Nurseries. But it has […]

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January 3, 2013

Rambo Nursery Eliminates Confusion With One-Stop Shop Concept

Sam Rambo says his company started offering single-source supplying before it was called single-source. “We were buying in shrubs, perennials and annuals that stores would need on the weekend knowing that they were going to run out and call us for more plants,” says Rambo, president and CEO of Rambo Nursery. “We officially became known as a single-source supplier in 2008, but we had been doing it prior to that. I’m talking about all categories of ornamental plants, including annuals, perennials, foliage, poinsettias, trees, shrubs, roses and bulbs.” Rambo Nursery operates three production facilities in Georgia and services more than 50 Home Depot stores in Georgia and Alabama. Creating Order From Chaos Rambo says the main reason his company agreed to become a single-source supplier was the lack of consistency he saw in stores. For example, a wide variety of pot sizes and colors were being offered in the Home […]

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Richard Jones

December 12, 2012

Setting Milestones For The Future Of The Greenhouse Industry [Opinion]

Calling attention to your own milestones can be tricky business. Like birthdays and wedding anniversaries, they’re fun to celebrate as a group, but in the end I suspect they’re always most important to the person whose milestone is being celebrated. Our staff spent a lot of time going back and forth as to how we should approach Greenhouse Grower’s 30th anniversary in 2013. We decided we didn’t want to focus everything on our own brand and accomplishments over the last three decades or generally spend a lot of time looking in the rearview mirror. We’ve done some of that with previous anniversaries. And really, poring over old issues of the magazine might be a fun way for me to pass a few hours down in our archives, but there are other things we can do that will be more helpful for you and your business. Setting A Course For A […]

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December 11, 2012

Willoway Nurseries Tests Robots

Willoway Nurseries is one of a small number of growers testing robots from Harvest Automation as a more efficient and cost-effective method of moving plants in the greenhouse and nursery yard. We asked Willoway’s Tom Demaline for an update on the testing process. GG: How are the robots working? Demaline: It has been good. We worked with Harvest Automation on the alpha and beta testing and working out the kinks with that. We trialed the first production models in October. We ran them about 6 weeks, focusing on consolidating plants for winter. We’re still in the learning curve on how to use the technology. Did the robots physically pick up a plant and move it? Yes. But in these trials they didn’t seem to like to consolidate the plants as much as they like to space them. We just have to learn how to make them more efficient. We’re really […]

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December 11, 2012

The State Of The Greenhouse Grower In 2013

The world of the greenhouse ornamentals producer has changed dramatically since 1983, when Greenhouse Grower magazine published its first issue. Thirty years ago, small growers served independent garden centers with seed-based production of bedding plants. They sold everything they could grow at nice margins and spent much of their time focused on the plants. Today, mega growers serve the big boxes with vegetative production of broad crop mixes. Business plans call for zero shrink and razor-thin margins. And the grower spends as much time on the numbers as on the plants. These operations are still serving their original purpose: growing ornamentals for U.S. gardening consumers. But the business is now fundamentally different. So, for this State of the Industry issue, we’re asking the question: Who exactly is the American greenhouse grower in 2013? Changing Makeup Of The Market Much has been made of grower consolidation in recent years. For reasons […]

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December 10, 2012

New Richard T. Meister Scholarship Supports Research

It is always a privilege to honor someone for their career achievements, and it is always a pleasure to provide opportunity to someone who is beginning his or her career. So it is doubly exciting to announce a new scholarship that does both. Beginning in 2013, the Richard T. Meister Scholarship will be offered to graduate students in floriculture intending to pursue a career in research, Extension or teaching. A $2,500 scholarship will be awarded annually and will be administered by the American Floral Endowment. Richard (Dick) Meister is the editor-at-large and chairman emeritus of Meister Media Worldwide, Greenhouse Grower’s parent company, which Meister’s father founded in 1932. The company is a leading publisher of specialty agricultural magazines and digital media. Beginning with its first magazine, American Fruit Grower, the company now includes multiple brands in addition to Greenhouse Grower, including Cotton Grower, American Vegetable Grower, Crop Life, Precision Ag, […]

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December 7, 2012

How James Greenhouses Will Improve In 2013

On Sharpening Business Management Cost of production is something near and dear to us all. Saving money is not about beating up your suppliers. There are tremendous gains to be made internally. For the coming year, we have a renewed focus on defining our processes. If you can define exactly how your company works, making improvements is easy. This philosophy has been part of our culture for a long time, but it is more important than ever to stay competitive. Start with a simple process. Dissect it, step by step. Time each movement, and in simple terms, list the skills required to perform each step. It becomes clear where things don’t make sense or are wasteful. You might find that your process is great, but your people are not qualified. Either way, you have a map for improvement. Do some specific training or adjust your process. Measure it again. You […]

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December 7, 2012

Bob’s Market Focuses On Quality To Improve Business

The word “quality” has always been a mantra at Bob’s Market. Industry-wide, there is too much variation or perception of what quality is, but for us, quality means not only plant quality but the quality of order fulfillment. It means giving the customer what they expect. It means the quality of on-time delivery and consistency of products. Quality also means end results for the customer. Does it perform for them? Are we providing enough information to make them successful? Quality has been a part of our thought process since the beginning of the business, when we were primarily wholesale and retail, up until current times as a young plant provider of plugs and liners. Have A High-Quality Mindset — Always We try to embed the idea of quality in all our employees’ thought processes, as well as the requirements to get to that level of quality. In striving to get […]

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