The Grow Initiative

Understanding Plant Nutrition: Calibrachoa

THERE was just one ground rule at The Grow Summit: we weren’t allowed to talk about problems. Just ideas for solving problems.

For two days in Cleveland last August, Greenhouse Grower gathered growers, industry suppliers and allied representatives for a roundtable meeting we called The Grow Summit. Our goal was to start a process that generates solutions to the issues we all face and re-energizes the greenhouse industry.

You know the challenges. The economy. Housing. Fewer
gardeners. Our industry isn’t broken, but it’s not growing at the healthy clip it once was, with nothing but blue skies ahead.

We can’t change the macro factors affecting our business. We can, however, change the way we react to them. That’s why we assembled a group of  innovative thinkers to work through what those reactions should be.  

The Grow Summit covered a lot of ground in those two days. In the end, the group compiled a list of priorities it thought we, as an industry, should address. You’ll be seeing much more about that as the group continues its work in the coming months. But we’re getting started now.

The staff of Greenhouse Grower was in the room throughout the Grow Summit. We left energized and excited, and ready to promote these ideas. We boiled the Summit’s list of priorities down to five primary points we’re calling The Grow Initiative:
1. Drive Consumer Success
2. Cultivate New Customers
3. Demand Quality
4. Sharpen Business Management
5. Invest In The Industry

We believe by focusing on these priorities, the greenhouse industry will put itself in a position of long-term, profitable growth.

Drive Consumer Success

With innovative genetics, technology, and production research, today’s growers produce amazing plants. But if the consumer doesn’t have a good experience with our products, isn’t confident enough to try them, or doesn’t even consider us among their options when spending money, it’s all for naught.

We must understand what matters to consumers. How do they want to use our plants? How can we make their lives better? And how can we deliver them in a way that fills those needs? We should look at the opportunities provided by technology. Smartphones, 2D tags and tablets are becoming common information resources for today’s consumer, but few companies in greenhouse floriculture are using these tools to help them.

And we must simplify success. “Trader Joe’s has it so you don’t have to be a skilled cook to succeed,” said one Summit participant. “It’s all but done for you. People don’t know how to cook; do you think they can garden? How can we do that?”

Cultivate New Customers
We’ve spent years debating whether new generations will garden when they reach that perfect age. All things being equal, Generation X might. But all things aren’t equal.

With the housing and economic situations and new options for their time and disposable income, we can’t wait and hope they will come. We must aggressively create new consumers.

As individual businesses and as an industry, we must market outside our comfort zone. We need to branch out from the big box and independent garden center channels and find opportunities in new places, be it non-traditional retail options or even novel uses for our products.

And we need to listen. We must be willing to look past personal preferences about what makes a good plant or variety in favor of what a potential customer tells us they want to buy, and how they want to buy it.

Demand Quality

Ask any grower, supplier or retailer and they will tell you quality is their number-one focus. But if we’re being honest, we know we don’t always reach our own lofty goals. In an atmosphere where we need to give customers every opportunity to succeed, providing the best possible plants, specifically selected to thrive in a specific region, is a must.

Offering consistently better product–and marketing it in ways that make it clear it’s better–opens the door to pricing that accurately reflects its value. Retail benches full of commodity flats set an expectation in the consumer’s mind. Change the focus from price to how beautiful and unique the product is. Top quality at all times should be a demand we make of ourselves, in addition to the expectation we place on others.
 
Sharpen Business Management
In a mature market like greenhouse floriculture, game-changing developments are few and far between. The art of profitable growth shifts to focused management of all factors that go into producing and selling a crop. That means honing the numbers for your business. It means working closely with your partners, both up- and downstream, to find arrangements that allow everyone to succeed. And it means looking at how other industries have approached similar business conditions and continued to thrive.

As one participant in the Grow Summit said, “This shouldn’t be so complicated. Our failure is we have not managed our businesses in relationship to what the market will accept. Grow excellent product. Merchandise stores as deserved. Manage cost of sales, production and distribution effectively. Profits are available under any conditions if we manage our businesses that way.”

Invest In The Industry
The future of the greenhouse industry rests on our shoulders. Regulatory issues make operating increasingly difficult. Mass-media marketing for our products is virtually non-existent beyond the efforts of the big boxes.

Funding for university research shrinks year after year in state after state. Fewer young people look to floriculture as an exciting career opportunity.
Left unchecked, each of these issues could drag us down. If that happens, we have no one to blame but ourselves. No one has as much interest in the success of our industry as we do. As a group, and as individuals, we must devote time and money to turn these potential problems into opportunties for growth.

What You Can Expect From Us
In this issue, you’ll find illustrations of each of these points. We enlisted voices from throughout the industry to tell the story of The Grow Initiative. Some were part of the Summit. Others simply have a great story to tell. All are aiming at solutions. And as we go forward, the Grow Initiative will shape the editorial choices we make. We will emphasize content that helps you deliver quality plants, ensure consumers are successful, create new customers, be better business managers and invest resources in the future of our industry. Everyone knows the challenges we’re facing. Now is the time for action. GG

Leave a Reply

More From Grow Initiative...
HGTV_2015CAST

April 24, 2016

9 Business Predictions Smart Brands Should Pay Attention To

Andreas von der Heydt, Director of Kindle at Amazon, recently predicted what smart businesses will do in 2016 to strengthen their brands and promote their products.

Read More
Lin Schmale 1996

April 23, 2016

SAF’s Lin Schmale Offers Lessons From An Industry Lobbyist

Schmale represented the floriculture industry on Capitol Hill for more than 20 years. The advocate has recently retired, and shares some valuable insights from her career.

Read More
An Edible Evening At Stephen F Austin

April 11, 2016

How The Greenhouse Industry Can Propagate Gardeners The Same Way It Propagates Plants

Jared Barnes at Stephen F. Austin University says we are the experts at propagating plants. That’s knowledge we can put to good use to envision how to attract new gardeners and future horticulturists to the industry.

Read More
Latest Stories
HGTV_2015CAST

April 24, 2016

9 Business Predictions Smart Brands Should Pay Attentio…

Andreas von der Heydt, Director of Kindle at Amazon, recently predicted what smart businesses will do in 2016 to strengthen their brands and promote their products.

Read More
Lin Schmale 1996

April 23, 2016

SAF’s Lin Schmale Offers Lessons From An Industry…

Schmale represented the floriculture industry on Capitol Hill for more than 20 years. The advocate has recently retired, and shares some valuable insights from her career.

Read More
An Edible Evening At Stephen F Austin

April 11, 2016

How The Greenhouse Industry Can Propagate Gardeners The…

Jared Barnes at Stephen F. Austin University says we are the experts at propagating plants. That’s knowledge we can put to good use to envision how to attract new gardeners and future horticulturists to the industry.

Read More
Congressional Action Days 2016

April 5, 2016

Floral Industry Leaders Make Progress And (In Some Case…

Nearly 90 floral industry members gathered in the nation’s capital in March to meet with lawmakers in the annual event coordinated by the Society of American Florists.

Read More
Student Video Horticulture Education

April 2, 2016

Use Videos Featuring Your Millennial Employees To Recru…

Your Millennial employees may be the best spokespeople you have for your business. Why not encourage them to make a 30-second video talking about why they got into horticulture?

Read More
One symptom of Botrytis blight is gray, fuzzy sporulation on foliage and flowers, similar to that shown on the flower of this hibiscus

March 25, 2016

American Floral Endowment Will Fund Research Projects A…

AFE’s primary research funding priorities cover everything from pest control to production management. Funding applications are due June 1.

Read More
kendall farms

March 12, 2016

3 Grower Brands That Give Customers What They Want

With product information, reviews, and price comparisons at their fingertips, Millennials are turning to brands that can offer maximum convenience at the lowest cost.

Read More
NatureFresh Internship Program

March 8, 2016

NatureFresh Develops Innovative, Interactive Program Fo…

Through WeAreTheGrower.com, students can get hands-on experience connecting with consumers at community events, and sharing their experiences via social media.

Read More
Kristine Lonergan, Garden State Growers

March 7, 2016

How To Make Your Brand Connect With Millennials

Marketing to tech-savvy Millennials means paying attention to their shopping habits and motivations to build relationships that help them connect with gardening.

Read More
Uber provides value to consumers by making their lives better

March 6, 2016

How To Market To Both Millennials And Boomers

While Millennials have become the all-important generation among many marketers, there are some important parallels that can be drawn between Millennials and Boomers.

Read More
This row of tomatoes with large fruit load is part of an on-going project with DeRuiter Seed Co

February 24, 2016

University Of Arizona’s Greenhouse Crop Production &…

The annual event features a comprehensive educational program as well as a hands-on workshop. Registration is now open.

Read More
Carol Miller

February 16, 2016

Why America Needs Plant Evangelists

If we want to have more people buying plants, we can’t sit back and hope for change. We need to share our passion with individual communities and spark a love for plants.

Read More

February 2, 2016

19 Strategies To Strengthen The Horticulture Industry

In Greenhouse Grower’s annual State Of The Industry Survey, we asked how your operation is living the GROW initiative’s five pillars: cultivate new customers, demand quality, drive consumer success, invest in the industry, and sharpen business management. Here is what you had to say.

Read More
John Daley Featured

January 25, 2016

How To Retain Motivated Young Growers At Your Greenhous…

Wholesale grower John R. Daley says engaging young growers and making them a viable part of your operation is the best way to ensure you keep young talent for the long term.

Read More
Janeen Wright

January 18, 2016

Five Thought-Provoking Ideas From GROW Summit 2015

Here are five ideas from Greenhouse Grower’s 2015 GROW Summit ranging from big-picture ideas to smaller initiatives that can help move the industry forward.

Read More
SAF CAD

January 18, 2016

Sign Up Now To Attend SAF Congressional Action Days In …

Congressional Action Days is a great chance for Society of American Florists members to meet their state’s lawmakers and discuss the most critical issues they are facing.

Read More
Dr Allan Armitage

January 15, 2016

Allan Armitage: Why The Deck Has Becomes The New Hot Sp…

Armitage says decks and small spaces allow younger generations to enjoy all the benefits of a garden without the work.

Read More
Laura Drotleff

January 6, 2016

Most Popular New Year’s Resolution For 2016 Favor…

It’s splashed all over social media: 2016 is going to be a great year! And what’s fueling that sentiment? It’s an overwhelming need for Americans to enjoy life more. In fact, we’re so passionate about this that it’s the most popular New Year’s Resolution for 2016, followed by living a healthier lifestyle. Here are the top 6 resolutions for 2016, as reported by Time.com, according to a Google Consumer Survey by GoBankingRates. Enjoy life to the fullest Live a healthier lifestyle Lose weight Save more, spend less Spend more time with family and friends Pay down debt Among different age groups, Millennials (18 to 34) are setting more resolutions than any other group, and they’re the most concerned with spending more time with loved ones, and the most concerned with spending less and saving money. Younger Gen Xers (35 to 44) are focused more on living healthier in 2016, while […]

Read More
[gravityform id="35" title="false" description="false"]