October 6, 2008

Online Flower Sales Lagged In ’07

For the year, the cumulative Web sales of the 21 flowers and gifts merchants ranked in the 2008 edition of The Top 500 Guide rose by just 11 percent to $1.35 billion from $1.21 billion in 2006. In comparison, all retailers ranked in the Top 500 Guide grew their combined sales year-over-year by 21.6 percent to $101.7 billion, while total online retail sales rose by 21.8 percent to $165.9 million. 1-800-Flowers.com, ranked No. 36, led the flowers and gifts retail segment. It generated online revenue of $501.9 million, up 16.6 percent from the previous year. The company now controls 37 percent of the online gifts and flowers market as measured by the Top 500 Guide. For more information, click here.

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October 6, 2008

Lowe’s Looks To Shrink

Lowe’s recently told investors that it is scaling down the size of most new stores and is looking at smaller locations in rural areas in hopes to operate more efficiently. The goal of this size reduction is to help cut Lowe’s capital outlay costs by almost $2 million per store. Executives explained at the company’s annual analyst and investor conference that new stores in their mid- to large-sized markets will be about 19,000 square feet smaller (making them about 103,000 square feet) than many of its current locations. “As we go forward, we can better match the right store with the right market,” Lowe’s President Larry Stone says. Lowe’s is currently testing a 66,000-square-foot store in rural North Carolina that features streamlined product selection and a drive-thru lumber yard. Deborah Weinswig, an investment analyst, says the new compact stores could produce higher returns for Lowe’s. For 2008, Lowe’s originally planned […]

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October 1, 2008

Sustainable Standards Move Back To Square One

It’s back to the drawing board for the committee that met to begin working on national sustainable agriculture standards. Last week, the group decided the proposed draft standard was not workable in its current form or developed with sufficient input from agricultural producers and allied suppliers who would be affected. Instead, it will be set aside as a reference, and the committee will start all over and conduct a needs assessment for a national sustainable standard. The draft standard was developed by Scientific Certification Systems (SCS) and submitted to the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) in April 2007. SCS also developed the VeriFlora certification program for cut flowers and potted plants and hired Leonardo Academy to facilitate the process to develop national standards for sustainable agriculture. Over the summer, Leonardo Academy appointed 58 people representing various segments of agricultural production, food and clothing manufacturing, retail, government, academia and environmental and […]

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September 29, 2008

Ones To Watch: Jonathan Cude

As part of Greenhouse Grower’s 25th anniversary, we are profiling people we expect to shape the industry for the better over the next 25 years. Now in its 14th week online, our Ones To Watch series continues with Jonathan Cude of Sedan Floral, who was featured in our September issue. Age–25 His Job–At Sedan Floral, Jonathan’s position is loosely defined as general manager. He creates production schedules, orders production materials, manages the sales team and even drives trucks to deliver plants as needed. School’s In Session–Jonathan obtained a degree from Oklahoma State University in mechanical and aerospace engineering. His education has helped him improve efficiency in almost every aspect of the family business, he says, and that knowledge should help Sedan improve quality and consistency while remaining competitive in the marketplace. Size And Commitment - Those factors set Sedan Floral apart, Jonathan says, and he’s determined to take quality, service […]

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September 23, 2008

Seasonal Change For SNA Show

The annual Southern Nursery Association (SNA) show has been one of the industry’s summer traditions for decades, but SNA has moved its green industry trade show to the winter at the request of multiple association members. Plans are now underway for the inaugural winter show to be held Feb. 12-13 in Atlanta. “We asked for input from our membership and show exhibitors, and this is what they told us,” says Steve Newton, executive vice president of the SNA. “It is a hard break with tradition for many who have been attending our summer show for decades. I do believe it is the best decision for the association, our membership and show exhibitors.” The late-winter show will allow attendees to finalize last-minute orders to be ready for spring inventory demands. “Buying habits are changing,” says Buddy Martin, owner of Martin Nursery in Semmes, Ala., and a regular exhibitor at the SNA […]

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September 23, 2008

Ones To Watch: Rebecca Siemonsma

As part of Greenhouse Grower’s 25th anniversary, we are profiling people we expect to shape the industry for the better over the next 25 years. Now in its 13th week online, our Ones To Watch series continues with Rebecca Siemonsma of Paul Ecke Ranch, who was featured in our September issue. Age–32 Her Job–Rebecca is the technical and sales support manager for Paul Ecke Ranch, working from home in rural South Dakota with her four daughters. “We are very proud of our online resources and innovative technical support,” she says. “We concentrate a great deal of our resources to research and development, allowing us to offer science-based programs and products to our customers.” Strong Backing–Rebecca’s parents own a local sporting goods store, and they taught her about the importance of getting to know customers. In the greenhouse industry, she looks to Jack Williams, one of the original “techies” from Ecke, […]

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September 22, 2008

Seeing Short Course

At OFA Short Course in July, a new event really got me thinking about the people that make up this industry. OFA’s Generation Next committee held a great event at Short Course called Unplugged–a social event for attendees 35 years old and under (or 35 or younger at heart), which included a bluegrass band and the D.S. Cole Growers hockey fundraiser benefitting America In Bloom. Unplugged made me look around at the people in the room who are making serious contributions to this industry and made me think—hey, young people are getting it done. OFA told us that it expected around 75 attendees, but actually had around 250, including John Clark, landscape foreman for H.J. Benken Floral Home and Garden and Generation Next committee member. “It shows a lot for Generation X because I think they are ready to take the ball and run with it,” John told me. There are […]

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September 22, 2008

It’s A Small World

The World Is Flat, the bestseller by Thomas Friedman, was the conversation sparker at this year’s Seeley Conference held at Cornell University. The topic for the event, held June 23-27, was “The Globalization Of Business: Will Floriculture Prosper?” What are today’s global business trends? How do politics and culture affect those trends? And who is responsible for the success of the global marketplace? The debate was lively as industry and academia discussed the ups and downs of doing business overseas. A major theme of The World Is Flat and the conference was technology. The Internet, e-mail, software and new logistics systems have all helped growers and their buyers and suppliers connect globally. All Around The World The Seeley Conference looked at global perspectives on the floriculture industry from Europe and the Americas. The success of the flower auctions in the Netherlands is based on three factors: a wide and deep […]

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September 22, 2008

Looking Ahead Around Houston After Ike

Hurricane Ike will go down as one of the most diasterous storms in Texas history after pummeling the southeastern portion of the state a couple weeks ago. Sales will surely slow for the time being, but the vibe in the surrounding Houston area is that the storm could have been worse–and business will soon go on as usual. Eddy Edmondson, president of the Texas Nursery & Landscape Association (TNLA), recently spoke with a couple of insurance companies about damage claims. One insurance company told him it had 30-plus claims as a result of Ike yet no catastrophic damages. The other insurance company had 19 claims totaling about $12 million in losses. TNLA is currently working with the Texas Department of Agriculture developing a list of affected growers to get assistance from USDA. “The number we put in was probably around $10.9 or $11 million,” Edmondson says. “That includes cleanup. “As far as […]

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September 17, 2008

Benchpress Profile: Arie Van Vugt

As we went to press, Arie Van Vugt of Plainview Growers was installing a new alternative fuel heating system at his more rural facility in Allamuchy, N.J. The 500-hp burner from Crone Boilers in Holland will burn wood pellets and pellets made out of miscanthus that he plans to grow in 200 acres of surrounding fields. Ranked at No. 13 on our Top 25 Young Plant Growers, Plainview has more recently been diversifying into specialty finished crops, including orchids and plants for pets. As a young plant specialist, why did you move into specialty finished crops? “The way the market has been going and with the significant increase in fuel costs, we’re trying to diversify our product line in order to expand our customer base and to keep a healthy bottom line. On the vegetative side, we signed on with Fischer and will begin producing liners for the 2009 season. […]

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September 17, 2008

Ones To Watch

John Bonner Age - 30 His Job–John is general manager of Eagle Creek Wholesale in Mantua, Ohio. After he graduated from Capital University, where he majored in economics and finance, John entered another family business with his father: realty management. Six years ago, though, his family began constructing its retail greenhouse, and now John manages a separate growing location. All In The Family - John’s mother’s grandfather founded BFG Supply Company, and John’s father founded Dillen Products. His family, obviously, has enough history in the industry, so it was easy for John to transition into it when the time came several years ago. “The family history made this a natural fit for me,” John says. “There are a lot of people between both sides of the family whom I met over the years, and they’ve helped guide and support me with the knowledge and advice I need.” Pioneering Practices–Eagle Creek […]

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