Five Questions With … Chad Underwood

Five Questions With … Chad Underwood

As part of our State Of The Industry report, we asked industry leaders to answer questions about the state of all things greenhouse floriculture. Chad Underwood, president and general manager of the Kalamazoo Flower Group, shares his take on the state of the industry this week.

How would you describe the state of the greenhouse floriculture industry today?

The state of the industry is good but could certainly be better. I think collectively we have an opportunity today to capitalize on the new attitude Americans have as a result of the economic downturn. Our products match the shift in values and priorities we’ve seen as a country.

Has our industry entered a new era or paradigm shift? Please explain why or why not.

With regard to retail, I think it has. We no longer simply ship as much as possible into a store and leave the retailer to worry about it. Today more than ever, we are actively engaged with our customers’ retail success. In fact, in some ways I think the roles have been reversed.

Has there been a changing of the guard in industry leadership? Please explain your answer.

Leaders are leaders. Many of the individuals who have been the prominent voices in the past continue to play important roles, but it’s natural that a new generation is getting involved and leaders among that group are starting to emerge.

What are the greatest challenges growers are facing today?

I think growers’ single biggest challenge today is finding truly effective and efficient shipping solutions. We are going to see more and more folks working together to consolidate shipping. Over time, the cost of oil is only going to increase. This fact, combined with retailer costing pressures, will force growers to innovate in this area.

What are the greatest opportunities for growers to build their business?

I think we have a real opportunity to tap into people’s changing mindsets related to what’s important in life. We need to remember we are really selling a lifestyle–family time, oneness with nature, relaxation and enjoyment. No one has ever bought a flowering hanging basket because they have to. They buy it because it makes them feel good.

Want more from Kalamazoo Flower Group’s Chad Underwood? Watch video of him on GGTV as he talks about connecting product to consumer wants and needs.

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