Checking In With John van Wingerden

Checking In With John van Wingerden

One year ago, we asked Green Circle Growers’ founder John van Wingerden in Oberlin, Ohio, to contemplate what the future holds for the largest growing operations and what will define success moving forward the next 25 years as part of our special 25th anniversary issue in December 2008. We recently revisited the topic and reflected on strides the industry has made in just one year:

Horticultural Distribution Hubs: “The horticultural hub solution is going full blast and coming to fruition quickly,” he says. “It makes carbon footprint sense. We’re doing this with quite a few fellow growers. Our facility is a hub. Customers value a full-service solution. The marketplace is asking for diversity and the system to respond is hub and spoke. The bedding plant business was point to point. Now we’re learning hub and spoke. As an industry, we’ve made tremendous progress cooperating with growers.”

Sustainable Standards & Indexes: “A sustainability index and being held accountable by major customers is a terrific idea,” he says. “It’s high time we’ve told the public and our customers what we’ve done to become more sustainable.”

Supply & Demand: “Today, there is adequate production,” he says. “If the weather is right, it’s adequate. If the weather is bad, there’s a surplus.”

A Need To Reinvest: “Now the industry is not reinvesting, which is concerning,” he says in response to the economic downturn. “We as an industry need to invest during good times and bad. It takes a long time to bounce back. If you’re not investing today, when things bounce back in two years, you’ll be at a competitive disadvantage and you’ll be feeling it. As an industry, we need to work on a vision and a lot of guys are scrambling versus looking past the immediate problems.”

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