Growers Optimistic Amid Economic Turmoil

Growers Optimistic Amid Economic Turmoil

Sales are down this fall but spirits remain mostly high among growers, despite the current state of the economy. We asked a few top growers, including some of our Ones To Watch, how market conditions are affecting their own greenhouse operations and their plans for the coming year.

Abe Van Wingerden, president of sales, marketing and merchandising
Metrolina Greenhouses; Huntersville, N.C.

“We do not plan any large-scale changes in 2009 versus what our original plan was. Yes, we are tightening expenses, but our expansion plans continue, we will still do the full amount of contract growing we had planned and our long-term goals are still in place. We still feel good about 2009 and the ability to drive sales in a tough environment. Reasons we are bullish:

“Our scan data in the fall has been 20 percent stronger than last year on mums and pansies–and still well ahead of 2006, as well. We have historical data that shows the garden consumer will still shop (if not more) during a downturn in the economy. The data suggests that when the economy is tough, people cut expenses. The first two expenses they cut is traveling and going out to eat. That puts consumers at home more, and when they are at home, they might not do the $5,000 kitchen remodel–but they will invest $50 in plants. They do this because it is a relatively cheap hobby, but more importantly, because it makes them feel better. That is what plants are all about.

“Our plans with our customers are better. We have less duplication across sizes, we have better container and basket designs/colors, and our efficiencies in pulling and shipping are better. We can get 10 percent more out of the greenhouse on our best day than we could last year with better processes and technical system upgrades. The season will peak, and we will be able to drive it even more on the peak days with our investments over the off-season.

“Somebody has to be bullish. If we all produce 10 percent less, we will sell 10 percent less, and that is no fun.

“We bought 10 new trailers, 4,000 new carts, and we continue to invest in the business. We are well positioned for the long-term, and we can endure a tough season if we need to, but I feel like 2009 will be one of our best ever.”
Pamela Youngsman, sales manager
Skagit Gardens; Mount Vernon, Wash.

“We have been talking with a lot of our garden centers and growers about 2009. I would say there’s optimism, which may be a bit surprising, especially in the Northwest because the weather was so bad people are feeling like things can’t get any worse than they were this year.

“With the economy in its current state, traffic has just plummeted. There’s optimism that when spring comes, as long as we have some good weekends, that should change. We think people will want to plant. If they’re not traveling, they’ll want to do something to add color to their world. There’s a lot of talk about vegetables.

“We had a good summer as far as July sales went. June was also very strong. I think in the last month, it’s been a little bit quiet. On the grower side, we are seeing some people make changes to orders. It’s not in a certain region of the country. It’s a grower here, a grower there. There hasn’t been a big number of changes to orders.

“I have talked with some growers who will be making changes to their programs. The overall vibe from growers is that they may be more conservative next year, but they’re optimistic.”
Andy Ambrosio, sales and marketing manager; Wenke Greenhouses; Kalamazoo, Mich.

“We are seeing pansy sales this fall soften the past three weeks due to (a) the gas shortage in Atlanta that recently was abated, (b) a warmer-than-normal early October, © persistent drought in the Southeast and (d) the hammering of the consumer’s 401k and home values.
“Instead of planning on our previous double digit growth we have experienced for the past seven-plus years, we are planning a flat to slight increase (next spring). Direct costs are going up for almost all inputs, so we have to increase our pricing accordingly.

“Any improvement in weather will be a positive. In fact, many retailers we have spoken to said that should the weather improve and the economy at least stabilizes, we could have flat, year-on-year retail sales. 
“Overall, we are concerned that the tail spin on the economy and on people’s financial/home values will make it more challenging. Having dramatic cost increases does not bode well, and I fear many growers had a challenging 2008. So there is the potential for supply contraction over the next 12 to 18 months.

“Ultimately, it comes down to the weather. I once thought weather accounted for 85 percent of a negative impact on flower sales and the economy 15 percent. Now, it may be more like 60 percent weather and 40 percent the economy.”

Denise Godfrey, sales
Olive Hill Greenhouses

“As far as what we are doing in 2009: We are down a bit and trying to make the most of things by adjusting our numbers, reducing the ones that are not selling as strongly, increasing the few varieties that are and working to diversify with new varieties. 

“I am hoping everything shapes up next year after the elections are done. We are just thinking about ways to infuse a bit more vigor into the market and determine how to get into different market sectors.”


Leave a Reply

More From State of the Industry...

April 17, 2015

Sakata Seed Uses California Spring Trials Display Plants To Give Back

Sakata Seed America is putting its post-CAST (California Spring Trials) plants and flowers to good use to support events in local California communities of Salinas and Morgan Hill. The plants, along with donations through Sakata's Charitable Giving Program, will support three fun-filled community events that promote healthy lifestyles and support the agricultural industry.

Read More
Hakonochloa macra Aureola v

April 17, 2015

Ornamental Grasses — A Few Thoughts

Grasses have been embraced by growers, landscape architects and retailers, and are an important component in wholesale and resale sales. Allan Armitage shares some popular grasses, one to avoid and a few to use with caution.

Read More

April 17, 2015

Allan Armitage’s Favorite Plants From Proven Winners, Syngenta And Danziger

Between visiting California Spring Trial giants like Proven Winners, Syngenta and Danziger, Allan Armitage saw a lot of great plants in one day. Despite the size of the challenge, Dr. Armitage finds a few favorites he thinks you should try.

Read More
Latest Stories
HRI logo

April 8, 2015

Horticultural Research Institute Accepting Scholarship …

The Horticultural Research Institute (HRI) is offering seven scholarships for the 2015-2016 school year, totaling $20,000. Applications will be accepted through May 31.

Read More
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

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

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