Part 2: State Of The Industry Series

Percentages Of State Of The Industry Survey Respondents Growing Produce

In recent years, some growers have been growing produce in between their ornamental crops. The produce, which may include strawberries, cucumbers, peppers, tomatoes, raspberries and leafy greens, is harvested a sold through a variety of local outlets. The local-food movement, which stems from the increased desire for sustainability and the increased interest in cooking with fresh food, is allowing growers to generate a profit from vegetable and fruit crops and reduces overhead costs for their operations.

Nearly half of the 185 growers who responded to the question were already growing produce (22.7 percent) or had plans to do so within the next few years (25.4 percent). Small-sized growers (less than 100,000 square feet) have been the quickest to jump on this trend, with nearly 28 percent already growing produce in their greenhouses. However, nearly 40 percent of medium-sized growers and 29 percent of large growers (400,000-plus square feet) are planning to grow fruits and vegetables in the next few years.

Most Growers Use Biocontrols At Least Some Of The Time

In the State of the Industry Survey, we also asked growers about their use of biocontrols. The vast majority (45 percent) of respondents said they use biocontrols sometimes, 16.4 percent use them frequently and 17.5 percent make using biocontrols a priority and use them as often as they can. Twenty-one percent said they never use biological controls.

Of those who do not use biopesticides in their greenhouses, the reason given was almost equally split between not knowing enough about them (40 percent), and the belief that biocontrols are not as effective as traditional chemical products (41 percent).

Taking a closer look, 58 percent of large growers who do not use biocontrols cited efficacy as a reason, while 43 percent of medium-sized and 42 percent of small-sized growers said a lack of information was the main reason. A significant percentage (32 percent) of small growers said cost was the main factor.

Mergers And Aquisitions

Every month or so it seems that we hear of another greenhouse industry business being sold or merged with another. Depending on your vantage point, you may think this trend is a positive one, allowing for greater economies of scale and one-stop shopping. Or, it may be an unwelcome development ― a sign of decline in quality and service. Either way, when we asked the question it elicited strong opinions from both sides. Of 156 survey respondents who weighed in on this question, 47 percent had a negative opinion of mergers and acquisitions in the floriculture industry, 29 percent thought the trend was not only a sign of a maturing industry, but was beneficial as well, and 22 percent were neutral.

Growers Sound Off On The Mergers And Acquisitions Trend

Personally, I think it is sad for any family-owned company to be purchased or merged, but I believe that it is good for the industry that these companies are merged or purchased rather than closed. —  Belynda Rinck, Ag 3, Inc.

I feel like the family-owned businesses are being taken down due to the economy. It is a hard business we are in, and the next generation of families in the family owned greenhouses are not interested in working as hard as previous generations.The cost of automating these systems are so astronomical that the family-owned greenhouses find it impossible to compete in today’s market. — Tammy Maxey, Tammy’s Flower Garden

The larger companies will have more buying power, bigger marketing budgets and the ability to be more efficient, allowing them to compete with big box stores and increase consumer spending as well. — Scott Burdeshaw, Graf Growers

If you have a passion for your plants and grow better quality, you will have a niche. You will fill the void of the big boys. The more the big boys screw up, the more my business grows. Keep a great attitude and build a great relationship with your customers. — Barry Ritter, Ritter Horticultural

Mergers are inevitable in tough times [and are] probably necessary for the industry to survive effectively. — Fred Dabney, Quansett Nurseries

Competition is essential for both professionals and consumers. It drives innovation, keeps pricing fair and encourages diversity. Lack of competition leads to stagnation, higher prices and lack of selection. — Erik Jacobsen, Parkway Gardens, Ltd.

We see this throughout the country, and it’s inevitable that it would happen in our industry as well. I anticipate more start-up businesses in the next generation.
— Willis Bruce, Bruce’s Greenhouses, Inc.

In order for many of these businesses to continue to grow, they need partners. Unfortunately, some great distributors and growers have fallen on hard times. In today’s economy, it is often less expensive to merge operations together in order to become more competitive and profitable. I don’t think it is a matter of liking it or not. Going forward I believe we might be surprised at who we will see become the next merger/acquisition. — David Holley, Moss Greenhouses

That’s capitalism – we shouldn’t have a problem with it. It can be disconcerting to see long-time, family-owned businesses swallowed up, but if we regulated against it, we would see less innovation, more stagnation in business and generally more apathy toward success. Ultimately, it’s a positive. — David Vos, Vander Giessen
Nursery, Inc.

It’s positive. They do the advertising and promotion for all. We’re all selling pretty much the same thing. — Jim Kwilecki, J & L Floral

I don’t necessarily feel positively about corporations acquiring small businesses, but I do think the industry was experiencing a glut of product. I hope we can take the last several years as a shake-up to encourage us to improve existing processes and be innovators in developing new ones. — Jane Stanley, Saunders Bros.

Consolidation of un-rooted cutting suppliers has been a huge plus. Hardgoods, no.
— Marian Nolt, M&M Greenhouse

We have merged with others [and have] more buying power to reduce costs. [We are] consignment buying on seed, soil, other supplies. — Nolan Jeske, Color Spot, Troup location

Have any of the mergers and acquisitions impacted your business?

Yes, the merger of Wetsel into BFG Supply Company. Customer service has remained decent. Terms and six-month credit have been easier to get with BFG than with Wetsel. Shipping rates for drop-shipped hardgoods have gone up 50 percent. — Paul Hutcheson, Windmill Heights Garden Center.

Yes. A local acquisition generated inventory unbalances that were sold at extremely low prices, hurting our margins and volume. — Ray Rueda, Nature’s Dream Nursery, LLC.

Yes. We used to deal with a couple of these bigger companies many years ago. Their customer service was sorely lacking so we looked for other vendors. We found a couple of great local/regional suppliers that loved to do business with small companies like ours. Now the big boys have bought out the great, local/regional vendors and we are looking for someone other than them to do business with. You can’t buy great service if you don’t know what it is. — Kevin Wilson, Shademakers Nursery & Landscape, Inc.


Leave a Reply

More From State of the Industry...
PP&L CAST 2015 intros

April 22, 2015

6 Breeding Companies Serve Up New Varieties At Pacific Plug & Liner

Pacific Plug & Liner’s theme this year, Labyrinth, a conservatory of the world’s most captivating plants, was perfectly topped off (pun intended) with fascinators for the women and newsboy caps for the men. The PP&L team dressed their part to act out the gothic “conservatory of the world’s most captivating plants.” Truly, the displays looked like they practically popped out of a catalog, and the costumes were a nice touch. Retailers take heed, the fully merchandised displays at Pacific Plug & Liner are worthy of emulating. We’ll let the pictures tell the story of all the fabulous variety introductions presented at  Pacific Plug & Liner’s 2015 California Spring Trials, where Cultivaris, Cohen Nurseries, Histil Nurseries, Jaldety Nurseries, Southern Living/Sunset Collection and Pacific Plug & Liner all highlighted their 2016 introductions.  

Read More
Speedling 2015 CAST intros

April 22, 2015

Speedling Inc. Presents New Varieties From ABZ Seeds, Hem Genetics, Thompson & Morgan, Vista Farms & PSI

You name it, we saw it at Speedling's California Spring Trials location in San Juan Bautista, where five companies showed off their new introductions for 2016.

Read More
PittMoss on Shark Tank

April 22, 2015

PittMoss Wins On Shark Tank

Mont Handley, president and CEO of PittMoss, appeared on ABC’s Shark Tank on April 17 to try to get the “sharks” to invest in his peat moss alternative. Three investors from the TV show contributed $600,000 to PittMoss for a 35 percent stake in the company. Check out this clip from ABC’s website in which Mark Cuban, Kevin O’Leary and Robert Herjavec discuss getting on board with the product. PittMoss is an alternative to sphagnum peat moss, made up of a mix of proprietary additives and recycled paper rescued from landfill space. Handley founded the Pittsburgh-based company in 1994. What started as a small experiment grew into a full-fledged business with the help of funding provided by an EPA SBIR grant and Pittsburgh’s Idea Foundry. Today, PittMoss is available to commercial greenhouses and nurseries from Michigan to Maine to North Carolina, with plans to grow. To learn more, visit PittMoss’ website, or check it […]

Read More
Latest Stories
HRI logo

April 8, 2015

Horticultural Research Institute Accepting Scholarship …

The Horticultural Research Institute (HRI) is offering seven scholarships for the 2015-2016 school year, totaling $20,000. Applications will be accepted through May 31.

Read More
protecting bees and pollinators video

March 31, 2015

New Video On Protecting Bees And Pollinators Educates H…

A new educational video that provides information on the horticultural industry’s essential role in bee and pollinator stewardship is one result of industry collaboration by the Horticultural Research Institute, AmericanHort, Society of American Florists and the American Floral Endowment. “Protecting Bees & Pollinators: What Horticulture Needs to Know,” narrates the current state of bee and pollinator health, provides information on factors that impact pollinators and the environment and underscores the beneficial role horticulture plays in providing healthy pollinator ecosystems.

Read More

March 25, 2015

NASS Reports U.S. Honey Production Was Up By 19 Percent…

Honey production in 2014 from producers with five or more colonies totaled 178 million pounds, up 19 percent from 2013, according to a March 20 report from the USDA's National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS).

Read More
cultivate'15 logo

March 4, 2015

Cultivate’15: AmericanHort Announces What’s…

In an industry that has seen major changes occurring at a fast pace, many industry professionals leave Cultivate with their heads spinning and no clear idea of how to regroup and strategize. Cultivate’15 is “Changing the Game.” As this year’s focus, Changing the Game will call your attention to the ways in which our industry has changed and your opportunities to compete successfully.

Read More
Greenhouse Grower State of the Industry

February 2, 2015

Download Greenhouse Grower’s 2015 State Of The In…

The Greenhouse Grower 2015 State Of The Industry Whitepaper includes all the results of the survey, including comparisons on 2014 sales to past years, details on how 2015 production volume and prices will compare to 2014, crops that growers will increase and decrease production on, where growers stand on using neonicotinoids on crops, how many growers will pursue growing medical marijuana and more.

Read More

January 27, 2015

Benchmarks: Let’s Change Our Story

It's a new year. Time for our industry to change how consumers perceive plants by creating a new reality where plants are valued for more than their physical beauty.

Read More

January 21, 2015

AFE Wins Platinum MarCom Award For “Murder, Sex a…

The American Floral Endowment (AFE) took home its fourth award for the animated awareness video "Murder, Sex and Greed." The organization also recently announced that there are two new members on its board of trustees.

Read More
Greenhouse Grower State of the Industry

January 19, 2015

2015 State Of The Industry: Current Green Industry Tren…

Demand for green industry products and services is forecasted to increase in coming years as the housing market rebounds.

Read More

January 14, 2015

Terra Nigra Joins DNA Green Group

DNA Green Group will be expanding its range of cut flowers by incorporating Terra Nigra, a company specializing in breeding and propagation of gerberas and roses.

Read More

January 14, 2015

Florensis Receives Horticultural Entrepreneur Award

During the January 7, 2015 award ceremony in the Keukenhof, in Lisse, Netherlands, Florensis received the Horticultural Entrepreneur Award. Florensis was one of four nominated companies, which also included Arcadia BV, Artemis and Martens Asperges.

Read More

January 9, 2015

AmericanHort Celebrates Its First Birthday

AmericanHort was formally launched one year ago on January 1, 2014, and the association is celebrating numerous successes of the first year.

Read More
Carol Miller

January 7, 2015

We’re All In This Together

Growers and retailers have a common goal — to serve customers better. In this new column, Greenhouse Grower will take a look at ways growers and retailers can work together to take advantage of profit opportunities and better meet customer needs.

Read More

January 7, 2015

Industry Speaks Out Against “Waters Of The U.S.” Rule

The Environmental Protection Agency’s proposed rule change to the Clean Water Act, known as “waters of the U.S.,” has the potential to disrupt normal business practices for growers across the country.

Read More

January 7, 2015

Students Tackle Real-Life Challenges At National FFA Fl…

Top prize winners put skills learned in the classroom to the test at the National Future Farmers of America (FFA) Floriculture Career Development Event.

Read More
Lesley Judd

January 7, 2015

2014 Meister Scholarship Awarded To Ph.D Student

The Richard T. Meister Scholarship was awarded to Lesley Judd, a graduate student with a passion for horticulture and a desire to pass her knowledge along through teaching.

Read More

January 6, 2015

39th Annual Today’s Horticulture Symposium Will Be Febr…

The Professional Gardener Alumni Association (PGAA) will hold the 39th Annual Today’s Horticulture Symposium program will be on February 6, 2015 from 8 a.m. or 4 p.m. in the Ballroom at Longwood Gardens, and will feature an array of engaging speakers.

Read More
Shawn McBurney

January 6, 2015

Society Of American Florists Hires New Lobbyist

Shawn McBurney joined the Society of American Florists' (SAF) staff starting January 5 as the new senior director of government relations.

Read More
Greenhouse Grower State of the Industry

January 5, 2015

Growers Are Optimistic For A Strong Year In 2015

Greenhouse Grower’s State Of The Industry survey reveals that growers are being cautious about the inputs they use, and they’re worried about input costs and regulation, but enthusiastic about the rebounding economy.

Read More