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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November 19, 2009

Lowe’s Experiences Large Drop In Earnings

As of October 30, Lowe’s reported earnings of $344 million. This total is a 30 percent drop from the $488 million reported in earnings this time last year. Despite recent declines, analysts say good things are ahead for the home-improvement retailer. “We are seeing signs of improved performance in some of the hardest-hit housing markets, including California, Florida and areas of the desert Southwest,” says Lowe’s CEO Robert Niblock. Analyst Michael Lasser of Barclays Capital, says while Lowe’s sales trends have been negative, the retailer “is seeing a recovery” as gains have been made over second-quarter results. Read on for more on Lowe’s third-quarter fiscal profits and the company’s overall performance.

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November 18, 2009

Standards Committee Calling For Applicants Again

Leonardo Academy is looking to fill five seats recently vacated on the National Sustainable Agriculture Standards Committee. The organization encourages growers interested in engaging in dialogue on sustainable agriculture to apply for the seats. The 58-member standards committee is in the process of developing 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 producers, specialty crop producers, agricultural product processors, food distributors, food retailers, environmental organizations, labor organizations and industry trade associations, as well as government representatives, academics, regulators and certifiers. In addition, the committee created six subcommittees it has been working with since July to develop the outline of the standard along with draft economic, environmental and social criteria for the committee to review at its next in-person meeting. The […]

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November 17, 2009

Anna Ball’s Top Trends In Horticulture

Ball Horticultural Co.’s CEO Anna Ball recently shared her insights with woody ornamental growers at the International Plant Propagators Society’s Eastern Region meeting in Cleveland. Here are her top trends: Sustainability Sustainability continues to top her list, and as a company, Ball has been the leader in creating a sustainable supply chain for growers. Sustainability is the fifth wave of innovation to transform our industry, the way plastics and soilless media revolutionized our industry in the 1960s, she says. Sustainability isn’t a project or program but a new way of doing business. “It’s not a goal on the strategic plan but part of everything you do,” Ball explains. “It’s a vehicle to drive innovation in all different areas. To create a sense of urgency, we need to act as though oil were $300 a barrel, water availability were cut in half and weather variations tripled.” She advises growers to embrace […]

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November 10, 2009

Garden Media Group’s Seven Trends For 2010

Public relations firm Garden Media Group just released its annual trends report to show what they anticipate will be hot in 2010. "Just look around you," says Susan McCoy, trend spotter and outdoor living expert. "Our relationship with money has changed. Hard work, common sense and a return to small-town values are causing a shift in priorities from boardrooms to backyards. "The rewards of growing your own – from basil to berries to flowers – are boundless." Here is a glimpse of what McCoy and her team of trend spotters see for 2010. 1. Main Street is in. Wall Street is out. There’s a shift of priorities between balancing practicality with comfort and fulfillment. "Core values of responsibility, meaningful relationships and connectivity to neighbors and communities are surging," says McCoy, president of Garden Media Group. That "can-do" spirit empowered by a new sense of self-sufficiency is fueling a renewed appreciation […]

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November 3, 2009

New Niche For Struggling Nurseries

Oasis of the Sea, the world’s largest cruise ship, has created some much needed and unexpected business for Florida’s hard-hit landscaping market. More than 12,000 plants will be used in the ship’s Central Park, which is an open-air green space that spans more than a football field at the center of the 5,400-passenger ship. Florida’s Michaels Nursery and Southeast Growers are growing the bulk of the plants. “This is a real big thing for us, a real shot in the arm,” says Bill Churchill, general manager of Michaels. Churchill declined to disclose estimated profits but said the cost of the plants alone is about $15,000. One garden will have plants native to Caribbean destinations, so guests will see shade-grown coffee plants, budding pineapple plants and learn about the origin of spices, such as cinnamon and nutmeg. The park’s horticulturalist will give tours and offer passengers gardening tips, reports The Sun […]

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October 29, 2009

Survey: Economy Impacts Holiday Spending

The National Retail Federation (NRF) recently released the results of a survey that focused on the spending habits of Americans this holiday season. Last year, consumers spent an average of $705 on holiday-related shopping. This year, that amount is expected to drop to $682.74. Here are additional results from the survey: –Forty-three percent of holiday shoppers surveyed said sales and price discounts will be the most important shopping factor.–Seventy percent will shop discounters, though 55.8 percent will also purchase from department stores.–Thirty-nine percent of shoppers will begin holiday shopping before Halloween, and 75 percent of the holiday budget will be spent on gifts.–Spending on family members is expected to drop 2 percent, while spending on co-workers and friends is expected to see double-digit drops. For more results, read the entire NRF survey article.

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October 22, 2009

Checking In With John van Wingerden

One year ago, we asked Green Circle Growers’ founder John van Wingerden in Oberlin, Ohio, to contemplate what the future holds for the largest growing operations and what will define success moving forward the next 25 years as part of our special 25th anniversary issue in December 2008. We recently revisited the topic and reflected on strides the industry has made in just one year: Horticultural Distribution Hubs: “The horticultural hub solution is going full blast and coming to fruition quickly,” he says. “It makes carbon footprint sense. We’re doing this with quite a few fellow growers. Our facility is a hub. Customers value a full-service solution. The marketplace is asking for diversity and the system to respond is hub and spoke. The bedding plant business was point to point. Now we’re learning hub and spoke. As an industry, we’ve made tremendous progress cooperating with growers.” Sustainable Standards & Indexes: “A sustainability […]

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October 21, 2009

Taking Our Industry’s Pulse

Did cool weather arrive earlier than usual in your region this year? Later than usual? Did summer seemingly skip fall and become winter overnight? Odds are the weather did not completely cooperate with your mum production schedule if you’re even growing mums. Fortunately, at the time we surveyed growers in mid-September about their mum crop, the majority reported mum sales increasing over last year. Growers have a range of expectations about poinsettia season, though. Thirty percent of growers we surveyed expect poinsettia sales to be about the same as last year, but the remaining 70 percent is split: 35 percent expect sales increases while 35 percent expect decreases. We’ll know more about those sales numbers after next month. In the meantime, read on for a review of mum season and a look ahead to poinsettia season. In our latest Industry Pulse survey, we asked growers when they shipped mums, how […]

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October 21, 2009

Industry Pulse Fall Survey Results

We surveyed growers about mums and poinsettias, asking them what sizes they grew, when they shipped and if they had any suggestions for improving sell-through on mums and poinsettias, among other things. Here are the full results of our latest Industry Pulse survey. Q: Which of the following best describes your business? Grower-retailer … 48.5 percent Wholesale grower … 50.5 percent Young plant grower … 1.0 percent MUMS Q: If you grew mums this year, will you grow them again next year? Yes … 84.5 percent No … 8.3 percent Not sure … 7.1 percent Q: If you do grow mums, who is your primary customer? E-commerce sites … 0 Farm markets … 6.4 percent Home improvement chains … 5.1 percent Independent garden centers … 38.5 percent Mass merchandisers … 2.6 percent Other growers … 0 Supermarket chains … 7.7 percent Warehouse clubs … 2.6 percent Wholesale florists … 2.6 percent […]

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October 6, 2009

Trade Show Ends 33-Year Run

The California Association of Nurseries and Garden Centers (CANGC) formally announced the closing of Garden Market Expo held in Las Vegas Nevada since 1995. The show, formerly called both the Pacific Horticultural Trade Show and the Western Nursery & Garden Expo, was an event CANGC produced since 1976. “The current economic recession necessitates change, and the time has come to move forward with a new business plan for the association.” says Chris Martinez, association Chairman of the board who’s general manager at Orchard Nursery and Florist, in Lafayette, Calif. “We greatly appreciate all the support we have received over the years for Garden Market Expo from both members and non-members whether exhibitors, attendees or hard-working volunteers who helped make the show possible.” CANGC announced the opening of a new show last week: the Nursery Mart. The show will feature products, supplies and equipment for growers, retailers and landscapers. Exhibitors from […]

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