As part of Greenhouse Grower’s 25th anniversary celebration, we are profiling industry people we expect to shape the industry for the better over the next 25 years. Now in its eighth week online, our Ones To Watch series continues with Chad Underwood of Kalamazoo Flower Group.
His Job–Before Chad became president and general manager at Kalamazoo Flower Group, he first rose through the ranks as a seasonal customer service representative for the former sales division of the Kalamazoo Valley Plant Growers co-op. He has now been in the industry for 12 years.
Best Advice–”Plan your work and work your plan!” Chad says you have to have a vision for what you want to accomplish, then have the guts to trust your plan. He follows Stephen R. Covey’s messages of taking a principles-based approach to life and prioritizing work that is important. “In our business, it’s hard not to get consumed by all the little day-to-day challenges we face dealing with a perishable product and ever-changing inventory, but you have to force yourself to keep an eye on the big-picture,” Chad says.
Money, Money, Money!–The increasing costs of diesel fuel, natural gas and health insurance have changed the way Chad thinks about cost containment. “The market is asking us to do more with less, so we are finding ways to do just that–but it’s not easy.”
Technology Is Tops–Chad cites the proper use of technology and focusing on improving operational efficiencies as keys to future success, and Kalamazoo Flower Group is making a conscious effort to operate in an organized, systematic fashion. “Whether it is how our growers monitor their crops or how we are tracking sales at our retail customers, we do it using technology and sound methodology.”
Twenty-Five Years From Now–Chad predicts that the industry will see at least one additional major mass retailer enter the scene, and like other growers, he believes fewer greenhouse operators will exist. The ones that do remain will be bigger than ever.
Why He’s One To Watch–Much of the vision for the revamped Kalamazoo Flower Group comes from Chad, who is building a team of professionals that will help the company continue to move forward. “We changed the way we think about running our business and also made a significant capital investment in the construction of our new cross-dock facility,” he says.
If there are other industry people we should consider for our Ones To Watch series, e-mail us your suggestions to Associate Editor Kevin Yanik at [email protected].