What Is The Grow Initiative?

Use This One The Grow Initiative logo
Marc Clark  Rocket Farms  Large blooming potted grower
Tom Smith  Four Star Greenhouses  Young plant grower
Danny Gouge  Willoway Nurseries  Woody ornamentals grower
Carole Barton  Barton’s Greenhouse  Smaller grower serving independents
Bob Barnitz  Bob’s Market & Greenhouse  Grower-retailer
Ed Kiley  The Perennial Farm  Perennials and landscape grower
Chris Buchheit  Everiss  Fertilizers
Dave Watt  Express Seed  Brokers
Joe Farinacci  IHA  Hard goods distribution
Rick Vulgamott  The John Henry Company  Tags and marketing
Jeff Warschauer  Nexus Corporation  Structures
Chuck Snyder  Summit Plastics  Plastics
Chuck Buffington  Syngenta Flowers Pro  Live goods
Bob Dolibois  ANLA  Trade association
Michael Geary  OFA  Trade association
Peter Moran  SAF  Trade association
Jim Faust  Clemson University  Research
Delilah Onofrey  Formerly, Greenhouse Grower  Media
Bob West  Greenhouse Grower  Media

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.

Leave a Reply

One comment on “What Is The Grow Initiative?

  1. The Participant that commented on sharp business management is RIGHT ! and we can connect this to the monetary investment we may do in our companies. Human investements, the sturctures, the facilities, the tools and more that will cut labour costs and provide more efficiency in our routine. Best Regards

More From Grow Initiative...
Feature Image Cob 700 (NewLux)

November 28, 2015

16 LED Lighting Solutions For Your Greenhouse

Narrowing in on the right LED lighting product often comes down to considering your specific crop needs and growing requirements to see what works best for your application. Here are 15 LED products to take into account when choosing the right fit for your greenhouse.

Read More
Begonia 'BabyWing Red' (2015 Louisiana State University Field Trials)

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.

Read More
Cape Fear Botanical Garden

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.

Read More
Latest Stories
Giving Tuesday

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.

Read More
Random Acts Of Flowers

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.

Read More
Kate Santos Operations Director Dummen Orange

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.

Read More
Bell Nursery reaches out by supporting projects that help children connect with plants

November 12, 2015

Bell Nursery Is An Advocate For Outreach In Its Communi…

In a heavily regulated society, growing relationships is just as important to our industry as growing beautiful flowers. In environmentally sensitive states like Maryland, outreach has become mandatory, says Bell Nursery’s Gary Mangum.

Read More
Dave Armstrong Sakata Holding Corp.

November 5, 2015

Why Lobbying For Plant Breeding Is Important

Horticulture industry members who take the opportunity to advise Washington legislators on agricultural policy will find a surprisingly receptive audience.

Read More
GrowIt! App Wins Gold At Design100 2014 US Mobile & App Design Awards

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. […]

Read More
AFE Scholarship

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.

Read More
American Floral Endowment Emerging Leaders

October 23, 2015

American Floral Endowment Develops New Floriculture Bus…

The program offers a chance for floriculture companies to host an intern and help enthusiastic students contribute to both the organization and the floral industry.

Read More
A Modern Take On The Classic Garden Party

October 21, 2015

PlantNite Offers A Modern Take On The Classic Garden Pa…

PlantNite is a company that brings plants to the people by organizing 2-hour social events in local bars and restaurants.

Read More

October 21, 2015

Dümmen Orange Creates Fashion With Flowers At Fashion W…

As a feature sponsor for Fashion Week Columbus in Ohio, Dümmen Orange North America made a statement with its flower genetics in the spotlight. This was the first time Dümmen Orange partnered with Fashion Week Columbus in its 2015 events, held the week of October 3-10, 2015. Fashion Week Columbus is a non-profit organization showcasing local and emerging fashion designers while providing scholarships to fashion design students. Each year, Fashion Week Columbus hosts a week of fashion-related events to feature local talent in the Columbus, Ohio area. “A leader in the floriculture industry, Dümmen Orange is committed to breeding, distributing and promoting superior flower genetics,” says Dümmen Orange Operations Manager Kate Santos. “To do this, we strive to be in touch with contemporaries in the lifestyle industries. A large focus of this mission is to translate trends from fashion.” With more than 500 working fashion designers in the Columbus market, […]

Read More
Stephanie Whitehouse-Barlow, Peace Tree Farm

October 6, 2015

Generation Y’s Reluctance To Garden Linked To Fea…

The Rookie Gardener is easily spotted at a garden center by her nervous and unsure energy that’s as glaring as a scarlet letter, or by his exuberant, self-assured confidence that is only otherwise seen at a college fraternity party. They are our industry’s enigma, our Kryptonite, the treasure chest we cannot open. The Rookie Gardener’s reluctance to garden isn’t from our industry’s lack of targeted marketing or encouragement but from Millennials’ Fear of Failure (FOF). It is obvious that failure is a part of life, but we as a generation have been programmed to not expect or accept failure. Since early childhood, we were encouraged to always win, to do our absolute best at school every day, to beat the competition. “Focused on getting the grades or winning the game, these children have internalized the pressure, (which) paralyzes kids in their ability to take risks,” writes Holly Korbey in an […]

Read More

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 […]

Read More
Rebecca Lusk

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.

Read More

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 […]

Read More
Smartphones may influence kids’ decisions about food

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 […]

Read More

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 […]

Read More
Marc van Iersel

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 […]

Read More
september_grow_rodale institute

August 25, 2015

Hospitals Are Getting Into The Organic Food Business

Growers investing in the organic food movement could serve a growing new area with vegetable transplants and starts, as well as produce, as hospitals begin to prescribe healthy diets and nutrition, and even go so far as to grow their own food. As part of a new phenomenon among progressive hospitals, health professionals are beginning to realize that without health and nutrition, programs and techniques may be done in vain or worse — obsolete. As more patients seeking a healthy diet turn to nutritionists, who recommend sugar-free, alkaline diets to prevent disease and aid in recovery, hospitals recognizing this trend are taking action. St. Luke’s Hospital in Bethlehem, Pa., recently contracted with the nearby Rodale Institute to manage an organic farm, established in 2014. The hospital, part of a six-campus network, aims to provide excellent healthcare, part of which includes educating patients about the benefits of a plant-based, organic diet. […]

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