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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November 28, 2015
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November 27, 2015
2015 Louisiana State University (Hammond, La.) Field Trials Results
See the 2015 field trials results (includes photo gallery) for Louisiana State University in Hammond, La.
November 27, 2015
National Garden Bureau Awards Grants To Three Therapeutic Gardens
The grants, totaling $10,000, are through the organization’s Growing For Futures program, which supports the growth of therapeutic gardens across the country.
November 24, 2015
Giving Tuesday On December 1 Is An Opportunity For The …
Organizations such as American Floral Endowment and others are encouraging industry members to participate in the generous spirit of the holiday season.
November 24, 2015
Random Acts Of Flowers Partners With FTD And Pro Flower…
The organization, which recycles and repurposes flowers with a volunteer team that delivers bouquets to health care facilities across the country, made its 100,000th delivery to a health care facility in Chicago.
November 18, 2015
Kate Santos Presents New Opportunities For The Horticul…
Dr. Kate Santos is a scientist, an artist, an advocate, a traveler, a dreamer, a visionary and a go-getter. Well-known for her work managing Dümmen Orange as Operations Director, Santos has taken on a new role as co-founder of Luxflora, an organization for women in horticulture.
November 12, 2015
Bell Nursery Is An Advocate For Outreach In Its Communi…
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November 3, 2015
GrowIt! Announces Its 2015-2016 Plantastic Idea Scholar…
In 2014, GrowIt! was founded by two aspiring young horticulture professionals, Mason Day and Seth Reed. Their goal was to inspire more people to engage with plants in their daily lives. In the past year, more than 50,000 people have signed up for GrowIt!, using the app to find plants that will work well in their areas. With the app’s help, they have identified mystery plants identified and even made friends with other plant lovers around them. GrowIt! founders say their vision is coming true, and now they want to know about other young professionals’ ideas. GrowIt! announces the 2015/16 Plantastic Idea Scholarship, giving $1000 to three students. Reed and Day want to promote young minds that have big ideas in the world of plants. “Maybe as a student you want to work to promote high school horticulture programs around the nation,” the GrowIt! founders said in a press release. […]
November 2, 2015
American Floral Endowment Awards Scholarships To 17 Flo…
The American Floral Endowment recently awarded scholarships totaling more than $37,000 to 17 undergraduate and graduate students across the country. The scholarships are intended for students pursuing degrees in floriculture and horticultural fields.
October 23, 2015
American Floral Endowment Develops New Floriculture Bus…
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October 21, 2015
PlantNite Offers A Modern Take On The Classic Garden Pa…
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October 21, 2015
Dümmen Orange Creates Fashion With Flowers At Fashion W…
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October 6, 2015
Generation Y’s Reluctance To Garden Linked To Fea…
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October 6, 2015
NASA Scientists To Discuss Indoor Agriculture Innovatio…
The University of Arizona’s Controlled Environmental Agriculture Center (CEAC) will host Dr. Jacklyn Green, CEO and founder of Agate Biosciences, and Dr. Roger Kern, president and founder of Agate Biosciences: Science & Systems Engineering, on October 30, as part of its seminar series. Both Green and Kern are former NASA scientists and engineers, and they will discuss their continuing efforts to develop technology and seek innovations to address issues concerning urban indoor agriculture, with a potential for application on Mars. Through the creation of Agate Biosciences LLC, Kern and Green have turned their attention to earth-bound issues of food production, to provide advanced technologies for plant nutrition, biosecurity and the undertaking of scientifically based research in greenhouse design and controls systems, and in plant health under controlled environment agriculture. A recent NASA news release reports that the Mars Rover 2020 mission is planned to deliver an extensive array of instruments designed to explore the habitability […]
September 22, 2015
Trailblazer Rebecca Lusk Of Luxflora And Dümmen Orange …
Rebecca Lusk of Luxflora and Dümmen Orange is no stranger to breaking new ground, whether it's in her own company or in forming an organization that gives women in horticulture a united voice.
September 14, 2015
Smith Gardens Is Developing Growers With A New Initiati…
Finding enough qualified growers has long been a problem in the industry, but it’s one that Smith Gardens is working to solve, at least locally. The operation, which ranks No. 22 on Greenhouse Grower‘s Top 100 Growers list, is the largest in the Pacific Northwest, and spans more than 50 acres of greenhouses and 50 acres of field growing over four locations in Washington, Oregon and California. As a 112-year-old family business that recognizes the need to invest in its future, Smith Gardens has made its Cultivating The Future initiative a corporate priority to attract young people to careers in the horticulture industry. Don Spence, the production manager at Smith Gardens’ Aurora, Ore., location, started working with local schools years ago. The operation expanded its program to local community colleges, and this year Smith Gardens worked with the American Floral Endowment to set up an internship program, and hosted an […]
September 12, 2015
To Understand Your Next Consumers, Look Beyond Millenni…
There seems to be a constant stream of content in the media about Millennials and their habits and characteristics, particularly as consumers. But, what if they’re not the ones to be focusing on? A recent article in Food Business News is saying that they’re not. Instead, it suggests shifting the focus to the next generation. The article states that, according to bestselling author Matt Walsh, the most disruptive group of future food consumers was born in 2007. With gardening consumers becoming increasingly interested growing their own food, changes to the food industry will likely impact the horticulture industry, as well. “If you understand how an 8-year-old thinks, you’re a long way toward really understanding a transformative change in consumer behavior,” says Walsh, CEO of innovation research lab Tomorrow, during a July 13 presentation at the Institute of Food Technologists’ annual meeting and food exposition in Chicago. When an 8-year-old makes […]
September 2, 2015
Delegation Is Key To A Successful Greenhouse Operation
In a packed room at Cultivate’15, speaker Bernie Erven presented key steps growers need to take to improve their delegation skills, the benefits of delegating and the dangers of not learning how to delegate. This is a skill, he says, that everyone needs to learn. “For all of you who are part of a family business, you are choosing not to do things the easy way,” Erven laughed, as he presented a list of ways to know whether or not you’re an effective delegator. The owner of Erven HR Services, LLC, Erven has been working with and observing family businesses for many years. In his presentation, he said, he didn’t share anything that he hasn’t seen first-hand. You might not be a good delegator if you: Tend to be a perfectionist Work more hours than anyone else Lack time to explain clearly and concisely Are often interrupted Enjoy what you used to […]
September 1, 2015
GROwing Floriculture Research And Extension
Research and outreach efforts help keep floriculture production profitable. With seemingly continuous budget cuts to university and federal budgets, it becomes increasingly difficult for them to sustain their programs and to keep making a positive impact on the industry. So what can be done to ensure that the industry will keep getting the research and outreach support it has come to rely on? There already is a variety of funding programs that support research and Extension programs in our industry. This funding is critical for many floriculture research and outreach programs. What can we do to leverage that funding and make sure it has the biggest possible impact? A program that I was part of in 2010 may serve as a model. LAUNCH was co-founded by NASA, NIKE, the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) and the Department of State as a program to help make innovative ideas become a […]
August 25, 2015
Hospitals Are Getting Into The Organic Food Business
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