December 29, 2010

State Of The Industry: Modernizing The IGCs

The frustration in Jason Parks’ voice mounts as he discusses the independent garden center (IGC) market in the southern United States. As Parks describes, once great IGC retailers are approaching retirement age, and there isn’t a generation on their heels to take their place. The next potential retailers watched their parents or bosses work their back sides off to barely make a living. So why, Parks asks, would potential up-and-comers want to make a career as an IGC retailer? “It is different here in the South, with some exceptions, because the people we deal with are mostly small and mid-sized garden centers,” says Parks, the operations manager at Parks Brothers Farm in Van Buren, Ark. “A lot of them are hanging on for dear life.” Most retailers in the South are at least 50 years old, Parks says, and his family’s wholesale greenhouse operation has been doing business with many […]

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December 29, 2010

State Of The Industry: What Keeps You Up At Night?

A grower’s list of concerns these days is a long one. From poor spring weather and disinterested consumers to increasing government regulations and succession plans, growers have more weight on their minds than ever. But as stressful as rainy spring weekends and wondering whether your kids are willing to handle the load of your business, the issue keeping more growers up at night than any other is, perhaps no surprise, the economy. “I sleep well but the economy is my number one concern,” says Steve Free, Grass Creek Greenhouse. “In the past, I felt our industry was relatively recession proof, but growing federal debt and the current administration’s intent to raise taxes troubles me.” In our annual State Of The Industry Survey, we asked growers to rate their level of concern about a list of 10 topics on a scale from 1 to 5, with 1 being not concerned at […]

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December 29, 2010

State Of The Industry: Survey Says!

Characterizing the state of the commercial greenhouse industry is a daunting task considering how segmented the industry is. Some growers supply box stores while others serve independent retailers. Some specialize in bedding plants while others primarily grow container perennials or flowering potted plants. And some have facilities that warrant their own zip codes while others produce plants in single greenhouses. The list of differences between U.S. greenhouse businesses is certainly a long one. At the end of each year, though, we survey growers to find out how the industry is doing as a whole. We ask growers about the year’s sales and their sales expectations for the coming year, as well as questions about opportunities and challenges their businesses are facing. This year, we also surveyed suppliers of growers (i.e. chemicals, containers, fertilizers, etc.) about their sales, prices and priorities for 2011. Here’s what we learned. Sales Analysis Both growers […]

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December 22, 2010

Bell Nursery On Consolidation And Big Customers

Bell Nursery has been out front driving plant sales and industry growth while raising the bar for all growers serving large retailers. The past few years we’ve seen a shakeout in grower power centers with just a dozen players emerging as mega growers and other growers playing supporting roles to serve the mass market. Here are thoughts from Bell’s leaders on: Grower Consolidation We’ll see fewer acquisitions and more strategic partnerships. “Gone are the days where you just go into a market and take over. The dust has settled,” Adam Stewart says. “Who can we partner with in that market? Is there a farm community that might be interested in the network grower model?” Big Grower As Big Customer  “We’ve become the sales and service provider for other growers, allowing increased focus on product quality,” Gary Mangum says. “This trend has been a net plus for our industry.” How firm […]

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December 22, 2010

Nursery News & Blues

We’ve been hearing how nursery growers focused on woody ornamentals are faring much worse than greenhouse growers producing spring annuals. The headlines we published last fall indicate there will be a pretty big shakeout in the nursery landscape next year, even plant shortages. Hines Nurseries is back in Chapter 11 for the second time in two years. Carolina Nurseries has closed its doors. Monrovia is asking for a $20 million bailout from its faithful indpendent garden center customers, while seriously considering serving the box stores for the first time in 15 years. Hines and Monrovia have iconic histories. Both were founded in the same region of California in the 1920s but pursued different paths. Monrovia built a brand based on quality and selection and focused on the independent garden center channel to uphold the value of its brand. Hines gravitated more to the box stores while still serving independents. Hines […]

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December 20, 2010

Home Depot 2011 Insights From Its Investor And Analyst Conference

The Home Depot shared a look into 2011 plans and forecasting during its December Investor and Analyst Conference. Here’s a look at how the big box retailer is feeling about 2011 and how it plans to get to know its customers even better. 2011 Changes. The Home Depot projects a sales increase in the 2.0 to 2.5 percent range for 2011. The chain plans to add 10 new stores in 2011: seven in Mexico, two in the United States and one in Canada. Economic Indicators. GDP is the economic indicator that The Home Depot will look to in 2011 for forecasting sales, replacing the new square footage housing turnover number. “It used to be a good indicator, but today it’s not that relevant,” said Carol Tome, CFO and executive vice president. She said foreclosures and home prices aren’t good indicators either, as they’re not major drivers of sales. The current age […]

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December 14, 2010

Industry Invited To Sustainable Ag Meeting

The National Sustainable Agriculture Standards Committee meeting has been scheduled for April 13-14, 2011 at the Gap headquarters in San Francisco. If you are interested in sustainable agriculture, Leonardo Academy invites you to participate in this process. There are opportunities for participation on all the subcommittees, as well as openings on the National Sustainable Agriculture Standards Committee in the Producer, User, and General Interest categories. The committees include individuals or representatives of entities that produce, process or use agricultural goods, such as farmers, product handlers, processors, distributors, manufacturers, food service companies, retailers and restaurants, as well as labor groups, consumer groups, agricultural development NGOs, academia and other interested parties that are interested in engaging in a national dialogue on sustainable agriculture. Leonardo Academy welcomes applications to participate on both the subcommittees and the Standards Committee on an ongoing basis.

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December 14, 2010

Monrovia Update: CEO Confirms Rumors

Monrovia CEO Miles Rosedale confirmed this morning they have hired Mike Trebing, former Hines Nurseries senior vice president for sales and marketing, to explore the box store channel. “Yes, he’s absolutely on board,” Rosedale says. “We’re certainly looking at the channel, we’ve tried to make that clear.” He also says Monrovia is 40 percent of the way to its goal of $20 million in additional spring bookings to meet pressure from its banks. “We are certainly optimistic that we could (meet our goal). It’s quite a remarkable start,” he adds. “We’re looking for all avenues to keep our business going.” Will Monrovia supply plant material exclusively to independents if it meets its goal? “That would certainly be one of our choices,” Rosedale says, who adds that at this point there are no orders placed through the box store channel, contrary to rumors on the Internet. However, if Monrovia were to […]

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December 3, 2010

Monrovia Faces Bank Pressure To Book $20M By Jan. 31

Monrovia is asking retailers who buy from the live goods supplier to up their orders with them by 10 percent on a wide variety of reduced-price material to help the company reach a bank-mandated $20 million in bookings, CEO Miles Rosedale told Greenhouse Grower today. The request went out via letter this week, along with a letter of support from 75 independent retailers that are supporting the company. “We’re not asking them to cancel with other growers to place orders with us,” Rosedale says. “We hope we can all get through this tough period. We hope it will stimulate more sales from consumers by passing on the better pricing next spring.” Rosedale adds that the business has seen soft sales the past couple of years and produced more material than they’ve been selling for a couple of years now. Add on top of a difficult economy a bank that wants […]

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October 29, 2010

Twelve Seats Open On Standards Committee

Leonardo Academy is seeking applications for 12 vacant seats on the National Sustainable Agriculture Standards Committee within the Producer, User, and General Interest categories. Individuals or representatives of entities that produce, process or use agricultural goods, such as farmers, product handlers, processors, distributors, manufacturers, food service companies, retailers and restaurants, as well as labor groups, consumer groups, agricultural development NGOs, academia and other interested parties that are interested in engaging in a national dialogue on sustainable agriculture, are encouraged to apply. The 58-member committee is working to develop a national standard for sustainable agriculture under the rules of the American National Standards Institute (ANSI). The committee consists of a skilled, diverse membership representing a broad range of perspectives from across all areas of agriculture, including commodity and specialty crop producers; agricultural product processors and distributors; food retailers; environmental, labor, and development organizations; NGOs; trade associations; government representatives; academics; regulators and […]

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October 26, 2010

Sustainability Summit

The Greenhouse Grower Sustainability Summit is the event for horticulture professionals seeking ANSWERS, SOLUTIONS, and OPPORTUNITIES through sustainable growing and operations practices. In response to increased demand for answers and information, Greenhouse Grower magazine will host the inaugural Sustainability Summit. The three-day event will help horticulture professionals identify answers, solutions and opportunities through sustainable growing and operations practices. An expert speaker faculty will be on hand to deliver the latest information and answer questions on what sustainability means today and what will it mean in the future. Session Topics 1. What is Sustainability and Where is it going? Dr. Charles Hall, Texas A&M University. Dr. Hall will define sustainability as it pertains to horticulture and give us a look at how our businesses will be impacted in the near future. 2. Sustainability Consortium, Who What, Where and Why? Linda Brown, SCS. About 2 years ago, WalMart initiated the formation of […]

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