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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December 4, 2009

Three Questions With … Art Van Wingerden

Art Van Wingerden, president of greenhouse operations at Metrolina Greenhouses in Huntersville, N.C., shares his take on the state of the industry this week. How would you describe the state of the greenhouse floriculture industry today? We think the state of the industry is good right now. Not good for everyone, but the overall state is, we think, good. Has our industry entered a new era or paradigm shift? Please explain why or why not. We have hit a shift. If you told growers a few years back they would be contract growing, they would have told you no way. The number of people who contract grow for others is increasing every year. We are currently at 25 percent of our sales is grown by others. Has there been a changing of the guard in industry leadership? Please explain your answer. Not sure about this one. Who says who is […]

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December 1, 2009

Five Questions With … Fran Hopkins

Fran Hopkins, president of Under a Foot Plant Co., shares her take on the state of the industry this week. How would you describe the state of the greenhouse floriculture industry today? In complete disarray and total pandemonium. I must say this is the most disturbing place I have ever been in as a grower, as an owner and as a marketer. Instead of a unified front, forging forward in this horrible economy, we are regressing into civil war–box store versus independent, generic versus brand, paper versus plastic. You name it, our industry has pushed itself into every corner it can with a fight or flight mentality. I used to love this industry, but going to meetings now is a dreadful undertaking. It’s vigilante time for many I think. Instead of pulling together and finding a common cause to whip this bad economy, my friends and colleagues are yelling at […]

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November 30, 2009

Industry Infection

Whether your political views are conservative, liberal or somewhere in between, we can likely agree Americans are as politically divided today as they’ve been at any point in our lifetimes. To me, the political division is OK. I should be able to think one way while you think another. We all have different backgrounds and needs anyway, and what’s viewed as an economic, foreign policy or health care solution to one person may be a new set of problems to another. The real problem today is how we’re addressing our differences. Civil discourse and spirited debate are gone, and Americans are resorting to name calling, screaming at the top of their lungs and playing the blame game to get their points across. Look no further than a couple of cable news networks that often make news based on how the other network covers a big story. Mud slinging between networks […]

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