Editor’s Note: Over the next several months, this column will feature a roundtable of viewpoints from various team members with vested interest in and experience with Greenhouse Grower and the horticulture market. Is bigger necessarily better? Depends. Maybe the better question is, which is better for you? Structures were going up left and right when I started as an editor for Greenhouse Grower magazine in the go-go late 1980s. I helped to compile our very first Top 100 Growers ranking – now, remarkably, in its 27th year (see page 15) – as our way of making some numerical sense of the expansion we saw all around us. Back then a standard question to ask of a grower was, “Are you planning to expand?” and I started to hear “oh yeah” so many times that I perfunctorily poised my pen to write down the expected growth in square footage. Then one particular grower said, “Actually, I have no plans whatsoever to expand.” Pardon me? Did you say… “Yes. Actually I just enjoy growing. If I add square footage I’ll just have to spend more time on management, accounting, taxes, payroll and…” He paused. “The more time I spend on those things, the less time I’ll have for growing.” And there’s no doubt about it: Going the “big” route isn’t for everyone, perhaps least of all a devout plant specialist. A goodly share of this year’s Top 100 Growers say they’ve widened their crop mix – and very often also their varietal selection – to become more of a “one-stop shop” that supplies as much as 75 percent or more of all the plant products their customers buy. Which is not to say expansion is the only route to success. As we’ve been reminded often through the years we’ve compiled the Top 100, biggest does not always mean best. And we heartily agree. Hail to the smaller growers, the boutique producers, the specialists and the niche-fillers who, much like my anti-expansionist acquaintance of years ago, lavish perhaps a bit more individuality to the growing side of things and, if they’re doing things right, are charging a premium for that. But we also caution that a big/small divide we see among growers echoes a wider trend in the business world that was famously described by former Wired magazine editor Chris Anderson as the “long tail:” a handful of very large suppliers accounting for a massive amount of sales rising vertically on an imaginary Y-axis (think Top 100); a multitude of smaller niche players stretching out along a long, tapering, horizontal X-axis “tail” (smaller growers); and not a whole lot in-between. The message: Be one or the other, whichever is truest to your preference and business vision. Some growers like growth, others like growing – know which type of grower you are. Second message: Have a plan. If you’re a smaller grower and you aspire to be a one-stop shop, you’d better plan for rapid growth. If you’re a larger grower who has a long-time specialty, double-down on your dominance in that category or else plan to widen your product mix. Just don’t end up in the middle of the road. As the Pretenders observed, that’s where you’ll see the darnedest things.
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April 20, 2015
Three Michigan State University On-Demand Webinars Offer Effective Strategies For Insect And Disease Control On Vegetables
The first rule of effective insect and disease control for vegetables is to take action to prevent problems before they occur. But in order to do that, you need to have an effective pest and disease management strategy in place that incorporates best practices to ensure a successful outcome. Michigan State University offers three pest and disease management on-demand webinars that will get you started and keep you on the right track.
April 20, 2015
Sakata’s Celosia ‘Dragon’s Breath’ Steals The Show In Salinas
Since January, when I first saw celosia ‘Dragon’s Breath’ in the landscape at Costa Farms’ Season Premier, I knew it looked like a great plant that would garner some serious attention. And sure enough, up and down the trials road, people were talking about Sakata’s hot new introduction. Celosia ‘Dragon’s Breath’ is a seed-propagated, plume-type celosia that is said to actually perform better with less fertilizer and water. If it’s fed too much, its dark leaves lose their reddish-purple coloring and turn green, and by restricting water, it tends to bloom more. It tends to be a more vigorous plant than other plume-type celosias, and its large blooms are quite attractive. Sakata also introduced a new series of African Marigolds. Proud Mari comes in Orange, Yellow and Gold, and has huge, fist-sized flowers that bloom vigorously. New colors in SuperCal petunias are L.A. Yellow and Pink, and they are fabulous additions […]
April 17, 2015
Sakata Seed Uses California Spring Trials Display Plants To Give Back
Sakata Seed America is putting its post-CAST (California Spring Trials) plants and flowers to good use to support events in local California communities of Salinas and Morgan Hill. The plants, along with donations through Sakata's Charitable Giving Program, will support three fun-filled community events that promote healthy lifestyles and support the agricultural industry.
April 1, 2015
Philadelphia Flower Show Draws More Than 250,000 Attend…
With more than 250,000 consumers attending the prestigious Philadelphia Flower Show in March each year, it's a great opportunity to get flowers and gardening products into the public eye. This year's show displays took on family favorites at the movies, with a focus on Disney and Pixar films. Check out some of the highlights in our slideshow.
April 1, 2015
Peace Tree Farms Grows Its Customer Base
Over the past five years, Peace Tree Farms in Kintnersville, Pa., has concentrated on growing its business by providing plant material for the displays at the illustrious Philadelphia Flower Show. We caught up with Peace Tree Farms’ Lloyd Traven to ask about how the Flower Show figures into his business plan.
March 24, 2015
Bloomtown Exposes Consumers To The World Of Horticultur…
A new web series called Bloomtown is all about the mud, sweat and tears of horticulture. Filmed in St. Louis, Mo., it chronicles the world of horticulture using local flower growers, greenhouses, wholesalers, florists, consumers, retail shops and arborists, with the goal of opening consumers’ eyes to the world of horticulture around them.
March 18, 2015
Growers Ask For Immigration And Healthcare Reform Durin…
Nearly 90 growers, retailers, suppliers and wholesales attended the Society of American Florists' (SAF) 2015 Congressional Action Days March 9-10. The delegation, representing 18 states, arrived on Capitol Hill at a time when two major industry issues - immigration and healthcare reform - are especially prominent in national headlines.
March 4, 2015
Nexus Corporation’s Cheryl Longtin Encourages Wom…
When Cheryl Longtin came to the horticulture business in 1994, she applied her experience in the automotive industry to promote the adoption of more technology in greenhouse production. Longtin says horticulture, with its rich family tradition, has long promoted women in the industry compared to other industries, but women in horticulture must continue to seek out opportunities to provide volunteer leadership in organizations that shape the future of the business.
March 2, 2015
Smartpot Uses Sensors And Cartridges To Ensure Success …
Click & Grow helps make it simple for consumers to grow their own herbs and spices at home, even if they have little experience with plants.
March 2, 2015
Student Flash Mob At TPIE Has Roots In Floriculture
The local FFA students who entertained TPIE attendees in 2014 and 2015 received industry donations of plants and a greenhouse structure to help expand their horticultural program.
February 12, 2015
GROW Perspective: What Is It You Do Again?
The industry is very good at talking about what we do and how we do it, but has almost completely lost touch with talking about why this work is important. As an industry, we need to promote our professions as vital to healthier living.
February 11, 2015
26 Ways Growers Improve The Green Industry
In Greenhouse Grower’s annual State Of The Industry Survey, we asked how your operation is living the GROW Initiative’s five pillars: How are you driving consumer success, cultivating new customers, demanding quality, investing in the industry and sharpening business management? Through your candid responses, we learned about some of the ideas you’ve implemented and steps you’re taking for 2015. Here are just a few.
February 3, 2015
Lloyd Noble Scholars Program Application Period Now Ope…
The Samuel Roberts Noble Foundation is offering college students an opportunity to work side-by-side with the Noble Foundation’s renowned agricultural consultants and researchers through the Lloyd Noble Scholars in Agriculture program, a summer internship that provides students the opportunity to enhance their in-class education with real-world application and experiences.
January 7, 2015
GROW Summit 2014 Homes In On The Issues That Keep You U…
During Greenhouse Grower’s third annual GROW Summit in December a number of ideas, questions and calls-to-action transpired. Here are a few of the highlights.
January 6, 2015
Growers Resolve To Educate Public About Their Operation…
See what growers plan to work on for their 2015 business resolutions.
December 22, 2014
National Garden Bureau Launches Therapeutic Garden Prog…
National Garden Bureau has chosen the Growing Solutions Farm in Chicago as the first beneficiary of its annual fundraising effort "Growing For Futures."
December 19, 2014
Hydroponic Food Production Course Serves Up Life Lesson…
Students in the new HORT 331X Hydroponic Food Crop Production course at Iowa State University are producing more food than they can eat, so they began donating the vegetables they produce to a local food pantry and free meal program.
December 8, 2014
“The Cheapest Generation” Will Be Tomorrow&…
Members of the Millennial generation aren’t buying cars and houses the way their parents did, and according to a recent article from The Atlantic titled “The Cheapest Generation,” it might be more than an effect of a bad economy. So what does this mean for horticulture? Industry members weigh in.