BenchPress Profile: Peter Konjoian

BenchPress Profile: Peter Konjoian

Peter Konjoian is co-owner of Konjoian’s Greenhouses in Andover, Mass. He is also president of Konjoian’s Floriculture Education Services (KFES), a private floriculture research and consulting business that serves commercial greenhouse operators and a technical consultant to Griffin Greenhouse and Nursery Supplies in Tewksbury, Mass. Konjoian is a member of the OFA board of directors, and he’ll speak at Short Course sessions July 13, 14 and 15 this year on growing plants that are retail quality, water management and using Florel to grow better potted plants.

Of all your different hats — grower, scientist, educator — which of them are you wearing most these days?

“At this point in my career, I’m spending less time in the greenhouse and more time on the side of education. A torch that I decided to start carrying is that of speaking of profitability and helping fellow growers understand what profit margins are all about. Over that time, I’ve become a student to agricultural economics. Charlie Hall, [holder of the Ellison Chair in International Floriculture] at Texas A&M, and I are going to be doing a little bit of work together on this topic. We’re going to try to bring this message to growers: Why are we having such trouble raising prices as an industry? My opinion is we have learned to grow plants much faster than we learn to sell them as an industry. Economists tell us we may be oversupplying the marketplace. If we’re going to raise prices, we need to trust that law of economics of supply and demand, and take a hard look at how much we’re producing.” 

What specific concerns are growers expressing to you these days?

“I’m finding that larger wholesale growers are holding their own and they’re doing well because the mass market side of the industry is the one expanding. It’s the growers who are strictly retailers, or those medium-sized operations who are doing some wholesale and some retail, who I’m more concerned with. There are more of those medium-sized wholesalers who traditionally were just wholesalers, and they’re now trying to open a retail outlet to grab more margin. That, in turn, kind of oversupplies the garden center and independent segment. I think the farmer mentality is to grow more, grow more and get more profit. I think that’s where we are right now. These guys are seeing narrow profit margins, and their gut is telling them to grow more. That’s not the answer. It’s really grow less, so we can limit supply and prices will naturally rise.”

What can you tell growers who struggle to sell a good portion of their crops?

 “I see way too many growers concerned with the cost of the pot, flat, growing mix or plug. They should be much more concerned with whether the shrinkage rate is 10, 5 or 3 percent. The numbers that we run in research in this area are mind boggling, if they would only pay attention. You make much more back on your profit margin by minimizing the waste than you do trying to negotiate with a supplier over a fraction of a penny per pot. There are way too many growers who are focused on that side. I’m not saying they should not try to minimize their costs, but they turn a blind eye to what goes out the backdoor of the greenhouse. During an upcoming Short Course session with a colleague, we’re going to be talking about shrinkage as a silent assassin.” 

What other discussions are you looking forward to at this year’s Short Course?

 “Water management. I’m involved in a group called the Water Education Alliance for Horticulture, led by Paul Fisher at [the University of] Florida. What we’re building is an academic- and industry-based alliance that will bring all of the companies dealing with water treatment and water management together. They’re supporting the project, and it’s allowing us to take a step forward because we haven’t had to really concentrate on water treatment and management before. Growers are too comfortable with pouring out a lot of water overhead. We need to change that.” 

Are you still finding new uses for Florel today?

 “As we continue to learn about plant hormones, and in particular as we continue to understand ethylene and its role in the plant better, we keep uncovering beneficial effects of this hormone. It keeps on trucking, and we’ve got a session at this Short Course on Florel. We have a couple of new applications to talk about at Short Course, and there’s a nice aspect of this that I think is going to fit into our next cycle. I think it’s a nice year to bring Florel back into the discussion.”

Leave a Reply

5 comments on “BenchPress Profile: Peter Konjoian

  1. Hi Peter, Peg and I are still active selling mums;forty-first for Peg. Unfortunalely she has minor dementia, which has robbed her of the names of plants and the ability to garden. We grow mums outside in Rhode Island and can only use early bloomers, .. but am looking for Hearty varieties i. e. multiple stolens. I see Green Leaves Plants advertise `Igloo` mums. They don`t look like any hearty mum I ever saw. Do you have any really hearty mums? or any suggestions. Seth Gifford, Peg Dillmann at Ding Hao Inc.

  2. Hi Peter, Peg and I are still active selling mums;forty-first for Peg. Unfortunalely she has minor dementia, which has robbed her of the names of plants and the ability to garden. We grow mums outside in Rhode Island and can only use early bloomers, .. but am looking for Hearty varieties i. e. multiple stolens. I see Green Leaves Plants advertise `Igloo` mums. They don`t look like any hearty mum I ever saw. Do you have any really hearty mums? or any suggestions. Seth Gifford, Peg Dillmann at Ding Hao Inc.

  3. hi Peter: I'm old AHS friend – my daughter is starting an organic farm in montville maine and has been looking for used greenhouse fans. Any suggestions where to find any? The big farm suppliers are too expensive. Great to read your profile. Thanks – Debbie

More From State of the Industry...

April 1, 2015

Philadelphia Flower Show Draws More Than 250,000 Attendees With Disney Pixar Movie Theme

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.

Read More

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.

Read More
protecting bees and pollinators video

March 31, 2015

New Video On Protecting Bees And Pollinators Educates Horticulture Industry Professionals

A new educational video that provides information on the horticultural industry’s essential role in bee and pollinator stewardship is one result of industry collaboration by the Horticultural Research Institute, AmericanHort, Society of American Florists and the American Floral Endowment. “Protecting Bees & Pollinators: What Horticulture Needs to Know,” narrates the current state of bee and pollinator health, provides information on factors that impact pollinators and the environment and underscores the beneficial role horticulture plays in providing healthy pollinator ecosystems.

Read More
Latest Stories
protecting bees and pollinators video

March 31, 2015

New Video On Protecting Bees And Pollinators Educates H…

A new educational video that provides information on the horticultural industry’s essential role in bee and pollinator stewardship is one result of industry collaboration by the Horticultural Research Institute, AmericanHort, Society of American Florists and the American Floral Endowment. “Protecting Bees & Pollinators: What Horticulture Needs to Know,” narrates the current state of bee and pollinator health, provides information on factors that impact pollinators and the environment and underscores the beneficial role horticulture plays in providing healthy pollinator ecosystems.

Read More

March 25, 2015

NASS Reports U.S. Honey Production Was Up By 19 Percent…

Honey production in 2014 from producers with five or more colonies totaled 178 million pounds, up 19 percent from 2013, according to a March 20 report from the USDA's National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS).

Read More
cultivate'15 logo

March 4, 2015

Cultivate’15: AmericanHort Announces What’s…

In an industry that has seen major changes occurring at a fast pace, many industry professionals leave Cultivate with their heads spinning and no clear idea of how to regroup and strategize. Cultivate’15 is “Changing the Game.” As this year’s focus, Changing the Game will call your attention to the ways in which our industry has changed and your opportunities to compete successfully.

Read More
Greenhouse Grower State of the Industry

February 2, 2015

Download Greenhouse Grower’s 2015 State Of The In…

The Greenhouse Grower 2015 State Of The Industry Whitepaper includes all the results of the survey, including comparisons on 2014 sales to past years, details on how 2015 production volume and prices will compare to 2014, crops that growers will increase and decrease production on, where growers stand on using neonicotinoids on crops, how many growers will pursue growing medical marijuana and more.

Read More

January 27, 2015

Benchmarks: Let’s Change Our Story

It's a new year. Time for our industry to change how consumers perceive plants by creating a new reality where plants are valued for more than their physical beauty.

Read More

January 21, 2015

AFE Wins Platinum MarCom Award For “Murder, Sex a…

The American Floral Endowment (AFE) took home its fourth award for the animated awareness video "Murder, Sex and Greed." The organization also recently announced that there are two new members on its board of trustees.

Read More
Greenhouse Grower State of the Industry

January 19, 2015

2015 State Of The Industry: Current Green Industry Tren…

Demand for green industry products and services is forecasted to increase in coming years as the housing market rebounds.

Read More
DNA-logo

January 14, 2015

Terra Nigra Joins DNA Green Group

DNA Green Group will be expanding its range of cut flowers by incorporating Terra Nigra, a company specializing in breeding and propagation of gerberas and roses.

Read More

January 14, 2015

Florensis Receives Horticultural Entrepreneur Award

During the January 7, 2015 award ceremony in the Keukenhof, in Lisse, Netherlands, Florensis received the Horticultural Entrepreneur Award. Florensis was one of four nominated companies, which also included Arcadia BV, Artemis and Martens Asperges.

Read More
AmericanHort

January 9, 2015

AmericanHort Celebrates Its First Birthday

AmericanHort was formally launched one year ago on January 1, 2014, and the association is celebrating numerous successes of the first year.

Read More
Carol Miller

January 7, 2015

We’re All In This Together

Growers and retailers have a common goal — to serve customers better. In this new column, Greenhouse Grower will take a look at ways growers and retailers can work together to take advantage of profit opportunities and better meet customer needs.

Read More

January 7, 2015

Industry Speaks Out Against “Waters Of The U.S.” Rule

The Environmental Protection Agency’s proposed rule change to the Clean Water Act, known as “waters of the U.S.,” has the potential to disrupt normal business practices for growers across the country.

Read More

January 7, 2015

Students Tackle Real-Life Challenges At National FFA Fl…

Top prize winners put skills learned in the classroom to the test at the National Future Farmers of America (FFA) Floriculture Career Development Event.

Read More
Lesley Judd

January 7, 2015

2014 Meister Scholarship Awarded To Ph.D Student

The Richard T. Meister Scholarship was awarded to Lesley Judd, a graduate student with a passion for horticulture and a desire to pass her knowledge along through teaching.

Read More

January 6, 2015

39th Annual Today’s Horticulture Symposium Will Be Febr…

The Professional Gardener Alumni Association (PGAA) will hold the 39th Annual Today’s Horticulture Symposium program will be on February 6, 2015 from 8 a.m. or 4 p.m. in the Ballroom at Longwood Gardens, and will feature an array of engaging speakers.

Read More
Shawn McBurney

January 6, 2015

Society Of American Florists Hires New Lobbyist

Shawn McBurney joined the Society of American Florists' (SAF) staff starting January 5 as the new senior director of government relations.

Read More
Greenhouse Grower State of the Industry

January 5, 2015

Growers Are Optimistic For A Strong Year In 2015

Greenhouse Grower’s State Of The Industry survey reveals that growers are being cautious about the inputs they use, and they’re worried about input costs and regulation, but enthusiastic about the rebounding economy.

Read More
Greenhouse Grower State of the Industry

January 5, 2015

The 2015 State Of The Greenhouse Industry: Numbers At A…

Greenhouse Grower's 2015 State Of The Industry Survey shows some promising trends for the new year. Here's a look at the greenhouse market for 2015.

Read More