January 5, 2010

OFA Names Michael Geary CEO

OFA has named Michael V. Geary, CAE, as the association’s new Chief Executive Officer. The selection comes after an extensive search process that began last spring. Geary will start at OFA on March 1. “We are very pleased to have Michael’s record of success in association management applied on OFA’s behalf as the industry and association plan for the future,” says OFA President Danny Takao. Geary has 18 years experience in association management and organizational development, which includes serving as executive director of the American Institute of Architecture Students, senior director for the National Association of Home Builders and senior staff positions with The Delta Chi Fraternity and the North American Interfraternity Conference. “I am very pleased to join the OFA team,” Geary says. “With the support of a visionary board and active membership and staff, OFA has become a leader in the horticulture industry. I look forward to continuing that […]

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January 4, 2010

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 […]

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December 31, 2009

Top Stories, Conversations And Videos Of 2009

Top News Stories: #1 Hines Announces New Name & Management Team One of the year’s most-read stories was about Hines Horticulture, the company’s rebranding as Hines Nurseries back in April and the unveiling of its new management team. The story also generated a couple dozen comments from readers reacting to the story. #2 Disease Costs Bonnie Plants $1M In Recall The Late Blight epidemic that struck the Northeast this year was one of the most-talked-about stories of the summer. Bonnie Plants was at the center of the scandal, which led to a he-said, she-said debate between the company, university officials and growers.  #3 SUV Crashes Into Michigan Greenhouse This September 2009 story didn’t generate the reader reaction the Hines Nurseries and Late Blight stories did earlier in the year, but the unimaginable sight of an overturned SUV that crashed into a Michigan greenhouse still caught the attention of our eager readers.  #4 Anna Ball’s […]

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December 29, 2009

State Of The Industry: Driving Sales In A Down Economy

At a time when so many companies are filled with doom and gloom, we’re seeking out the success stories–growers who are defying the recession and excelling. The three growers we’re featuring offer strategies you can implement in your business. Dedication & Reputation Bettinger Farms in Swanton, Ohio, near Toledo is mostly focused on spring production, serving independent garden centers in the South and Eastern Midwest. At a time when maintaining sales is the new up, Bettinger’s sales continue to grow–12 percent in 2007, 3 percent in 2008 and 4 percent in 2009. The business was founded in 1940 by the legendary Leonard Bettinger, a pioneer in the bedding plant revolution. The 11-acre operation is now run by son Ron Bettinger, his son Brian and John Pawlaczyk. “Even though the company has gone through many changes in the past 50 years, the key to our company’s success hasn’t changed–excellent employees and […]

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December 29, 2009

State Of The Industry: Top Trends For 2010

Much of what we can expect to see in 2010 is a progression of what we saw in 2009. Here are the top 10 trends shaping the greenhouse floriculture industry. 1. Supply Chain Correction The industry had been in a state of oversupply for a long time. The past two years, we’ve seen growers become more conservative with production. One reason for this shift is the advent of pay by scan or vendor managed inventory, where growers only get paid for plants rung through the cash register. The dumpster is no longer a paying customer. Another is fear to committing to too much inventory that’s not presold. Wholesale growers who successfully serve independent retailers are used to driving a lot of sales on speculation, but across the board, our industry is minimizing risk. This was clearly evident this past poinsettia season. While growers overproduced in 2008 and threw a lot […]

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December 28, 2009

State Of The Industry: Overview

Last year was hardly a cakewalk for growers. In fact, some will argue it was the most challenging they’ve ever faced. The weather was uncooperative in certain regions, competition became a bigger challenge for more growers, and labor, energy and input costs didn’t provide many breaks.   No greenhouse operation is immune to these challenges − although some face them with more ease than others − as we saw El Modeno Gardens, a Top 100 Grower, close its doors along with other operations in 2009. Times are indeed tough, but you can argue our industry is faring better than others. Many growers have found there’s still demand for their products − even in a down economy − and there’s opportunity to increase demand more if growers listen closely to customers and offer products consumers want. Greenhouse Grower’s annual State Of The Industry Report hones in on what those opportunties are. […]

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December 28, 2009

State Of The Industry: Life After Walmart

When Walmart hit the garden center scene a couple decades ago, a few growers saw an opportunity for growth and pounced on it. Then, as Walmart’s garden center business began to boom, more growers jumped on the bandwagon, creating a Walmart network over the years that included a few hundred growers. Over the last couple years, though, Walmart’s grower network has dwindled to fewer than 40 select growers. Complexity and costs in the supply chain led to consolidation, which came as a surprise to many of the growers who built their businesses over the years with Walmart. Recovery hasn’t been a smooth road for the growers pushed out of Walmart’s network, but there are opportunities to be had. And in some cases, those opportunities still involve Walmart. Case in point: Dan & Jerry’s Greenhouses in Monticello, Minn. “We are actually doing a small amount of contract growing with Walmart to […]

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December 28, 2009

State Of The Industry: Survival Of The Fittest

Do you expect your greenhouse operation to survive 2010? Odds are your answer is yes, judging from the responses we got from growers who took our survey on the state of the industry in November. In fact, the overwhelming majority of growers (92 percent) anticipate their operation being around in 2011. Eight percent of growers, however, aren’t sure they’ll be around in another 12 months, and more growers are getting vocal about their uncertainty or displeasure over the state of our industry–and the direction we’re headed. “There is too much competition driving the price down,” says Alice Longfellow, owner of Longfellow’s Garden Center, a small grower-retailer in Missouri. “There is a small selling window and if weather delays that, everyone panics and cuts their prices. Box stores are not doing anyone any favors.” Despite the price cutting Longfellow describes, the overwhelming majority of growers have not lowered their prices in […]

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December 28, 2009

Brookwood Community and We Grow Dreams Enrich Lives Of Employees

  Most garden centers have goals such as increased profit, retailing quality plants and even enhancing the lives of customers by providing beautiful plants. The Brookwood Community in Brookshire, Texas, and We Grow Dreams in West Chicago, Ill., are two garden centers with those same goals, but they share an additional goal that differentiates them from the average garden center. They strive, above all, to enhance the quality of life of disabled adults by providing meaningful job opportunities. The Brookwood Community and We Grow Dreams share many commonalities. They were both founded by parents of disabled individuals who were faced with few opportunities for a work life after they passed school age. They are both not-for-profit organizations, raising operational funds largely from plant sales and donations and neither accepts government subsidies. The Brookwood Community Founded in 1985, the 475-acre Brookwood Community is a God-centered educational, residential and entrepreneurial community for […]

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December 28, 2009

State Of The Industry: Leaders Sound Off

So many questions, so many different answers. Determining whether the state of our industry is good, bad or something else is a mighty challenge when you take into account the fact that growers, retailers and others have vastly different opinions on the issues pressing us most. Business may be booming for some yet hard to come by for others, and a challenge to one grower may be the least of another’s worries. To give you an idea where people in the industry stand, we approached growers and others with five questions about the state of greenhouse floriculture in 2010. Most of those we approached expressed concerns about the state of things. But here’s what they said − in their own words. How would you describe the state of the greenhouse floriculture industry today?   Fran HopkinsPresident, Under A Foot Plant CompanyIn complete disarray and total pandemonium. I must say this […]

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December 22, 2009

Five Questions With … Denise Godfrey

Denise Godfrey of Olive Hill Greenhouses in Fallbrook, Calif., shares her take on the state of the industry this week. How would you describe the state of the greenhouse floriculture industry today? Like the rest of the economic sectors, we are suffering from decreased demand and we hope to maintain during this uncertainty by looking at old and new ideas and technology; by relying more on relationships and working together with fellow growers, suppliers and customers to better define and react to what is happening; to take advantage of opportunities; and to maintain a positive outlook in order to overcome adversity and persevere. Has our industry entered a new era or paradigm shift? Please explain why or why not. We no longer grow in a vacuum, growing and selling plants and the customer deciding their purchase on beauty and a fair price. The public is having more and more influence […]

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December 15, 2009

Four Questions With … John Bonner

As part of our State Of The Industry report, we asked industry leaders to answer questions about the state of all things greenhouse floriculture. John Bonner, general manager of Eagle Creek Wholesale in Mantua, Ohio, shares his take on the state of the industry this week. How would you describe the state of the greenhouse floriculture industry today? The industry is in flux and going through some serious changes. Has our industry entered a new era or paradigm shift? Please explain why or why not. Yes, the new paradigm is one of accountability for making sure not only our customer is successful, but even more importantly, the consumer. This mantra is rippling back through the supply channels. Creating value also seems to be the law of the land today. What are the greatest challenges growers are facing today? Our greatest challenges are creating programs and products that are relevant to […]

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