Minnesota Standout

The flow of goods to retailers is critical to the success of every greenhouse. And it’s no different at Bergen’s Greenhouses, a Minnesota-based operation that climbs six spots this year to 54th on our list of Top 100 Growers.

Bergen’s is, however, somewhat different in the way it tracks the flow of its own goods. It uses a weekly vendor scorecard and several other reports to provide performance feedback for its customers.

“It’s just a report card we use when we meet our buyer and a report that provides me an overall snapshot of how our company is executing versus last year,” says Kevin Johnson, sales manager at Bergen’s. “We print out a scorecard and it shows how we perform for them, our margins, how much money they made and it goes right down the list.” 

Increased Analysis

Salespeople like Johnson do more analysis with each passing year, he says, and online technology gives Bergen’s better information to make decisions on the products it sends to retailers.

To avoid markdowns, for instance, retailers give Bergen’s full or limited access to their inventory. That way, Bergen’s knows whether stores are full or if they need to supply more goods as quickly as possible.

“You know before you go in and meet with your buyer if you’re going to get a pat on the back or a kick in the pants,” Johnson says. “So you’re prepared for it. They base a lot of their decisions on the scorecard. If you’ve got a poor scorecard, they’re not going to keep you around for long.” 

Finding Their Niche

Bergen’s, which added 152,460 square feet of greenhouse space over the last year, has also benefited from student trainees who take jobs through programs like the Minnesota Agricultural Student Trainee Program (MAST). Bergen’s has about 15 student trainees from MAST and Communicating for Agriculture between its two facilities in Detroit Lakes and Forest Lake, Minn.

Some students are first-year trainees; others returned to Bergen’s for a second year. Csaba Lippai, a Hungary native who’s now the facility manager at the Forest Lake greenhouse, is a product of a student trainee program.

“Before you finish your degree, students want to travel, go abroad, learn language and get their feet wet in the industry,” Lippai says. “They come in and everybody has different talents, background and seriousness about it.”

Trainees can work in different departments and learn anything from planting to production to shipping in order to figure out what they’re passionate about. Bergen’s even provides some housing for first-year trainees, and second-year trainees have earned management positions at the greenhouse.

“Csaba’s assistant is actually a second-year student,” Johnson says. “He’s been a huge asset. We also have a person who’s currently working with me on the sales end. He has a master’s degree in finance, and he’s been a huge asset for me when we do all of our sales analysis.”

Bergen’s also keeps sustainable practices in mind. It has built Max-Air structures that use natural air movement for ventilation. It also uses flood floors to recapture and recycle all irrigation waters. Additionally, high-efficiency boilers have been installed with flue condensers.

Bergen’s has no plans for structural expansion over the next year, but it intends to add energy and shade curtains in its existing greenhouses.

Leave a Reply

More From Top 100 Growers...
Costa Farms won International Grower of the Year. Representing the operation, (left to right) were Chuck Zala, Michael Vera, Menachem Ganon, Jose Costa, and Mike Rimland

May 24, 2016

AIPH Seeking Entries For Its International Grower of the Year Awards

The International Association of Horticultural Producers (AIPH) is inviting ornamental growers from all around the world to enter the AIPH International Grower of the Year Awards (IGOTY) for 2017. Last year’s big winner was Florida-based Costa Farms.

Read More
Top 100 Drone Image Feature

May 16, 2016

Greenhouse Grower’s Top 100 Growers Talk Technology, Automation, Sustainability, And Marketing

The Top 100 Growers are already by nature some of the most technologically advanced greenhouse operations, due to their sheer size and need for efficiency. Many of the largest growers also serve big box merchandisers and home improvement chains, where prices are dictated, so producing plants at the lowest possible cost is essential to growers not only staying in business, but also profiting and expanding their operations. This year’s survey focused on the automation and technology the Top 100 Growers are investing in, and how these advancements have improved their operations, as well as how they have affected growers’ labor issues. We also asked growers about how they’re solving labor issues, where they’re recruiting new hires, and how they’re keeping their people committed. Lean management programs and sustainability certifications have become higher priorities in the past several years, due to growers’ needs to run efficiently and focus attention on sustainable […]

Read More
2016 Top 100 Growers With Drone

May 10, 2016

Reading The 2016 Greenhouse Grower Top 100 Rankings: The Big Keep Getting Bigger

Greenhouse Grower’s Top 100 Growers survey reveals continued growth among the nation’s largest operations.

Read More
Latest Stories
Costa Farms won International Grower of the Year. Representing the operation, (left to right) were Chuck Zala, Michael Vera, Menachem Ganon, Jose Costa, and Mike Rimland

May 24, 2016

AIPH Seeking Entries For Its International Grower of th…

The International Association of Horticultural Producers (AIPH) is inviting ornamental growers from all around the world to enter the AIPH International Grower of the Year Awards (IGOTY) for 2017. Last year’s big winner was Florida-based Costa Farms.

Read More
Top 100 Drone Image Feature

May 16, 2016

Greenhouse Grower’s Top 100 Growers Talk Technolo…

The Top 100 Growers are already by nature some of the most technologically advanced greenhouse operations, due to their sheer size and need for efficiency. Many of the largest growers also serve big box merchandisers and home improvement chains, where prices are dictated, so producing plants at the lowest possible cost is essential to growers not only staying in business, but also profiting and expanding their operations. This year’s survey focused on the automation and technology the Top 100 Growers are investing in, and how these advancements have improved their operations, as well as how they have affected growers’ labor issues. We also asked growers about how they’re solving labor issues, where they’re recruiting new hires, and how they’re keeping their people committed. Lean management programs and sustainability certifications have become higher priorities in the past several years, due to growers’ needs to run efficiently and focus attention on sustainable […]

Read More
2016 Top 100 Growers With Drone

May 10, 2016

Reading The 2016 Greenhouse Grower Top 100 Ranki…

Greenhouse Grower’s Top 100 Growers survey reveals continued growth among the nation’s largest operations.

Read More
2016 Top 100 Growers List

May 10, 2016

2016 Greenhouse Grower Top 100 Growers: The Comp…

Check out the full list of Greenhouse Grower's 2016 Top 100 Growers, which includes nine newcomers and more growth in square footage at the top.

Read More
Scott Schaefer Aris CEO

April 22, 2016

New Aris CEO Scott Schaefer Looks Forward To Dealing Wi…

Schaefer, who has been with Aris for 15 years, grew up working at his family’s greenhouse operation in Illinois.

Read More
Top 100

March 8, 2016

Large Growers: Please Take Greenhouse Grower’s 20…

Has your operation grown in size over the past year? How have you changed your approach to investing in technology to ensure that your operation remains as efficient as possible? How are you recruiting labor and qualified growers? How can large growers work together to promote the benefits of plants, flowers, and gardening? These questions and others like them are waiting for your answers in Greenhouse Grower’s 2016 Top 100 Growers Survey. If your greenhouse square footage is 400,000 square feet or larger, you are eligible to take the survey. Putting together our Top 100 Growers report has always been a great way to track industry trends and get an overview of changes among the biggest players. Your cooperation in filling out this short survey will help make our Top 100 Growers coverage a success. The deadline for completing this survey is Friday, March 18. The Top 100 Growers report […]

Read More
Costa Farms

January 29, 2016

Costa Farms Named International Grower Of The Year

Costa Farms was the night’s biggest winner during an awards gala presented by the International Association of Horticultural Producers (AIPH) and held at IPM Essen in Germany. (Read more about the business culture that’s driven Costa’s success in Greenhouse Grower’s January 2016 feature story.) The Florida-based grower was named the International Grower Of The Year, and was chosen from a group that included eight other international companies. “This award is a reflection of our entire team, and we are all dedicated to being the best at what we do and making this company successful for the long term,” said Jose Costa, Executive Vice President of Costa’s foliage division. The AIPH awarded gold, silver, and bronze awards in three categories — Finished Plants And Trees, Young Plants, and Cut Flowers — prior to naming the big winner. Costa was the gold winner in the Finished Plants and Trees Category. Each of […]

Read More

January 20, 2016

Color Point Creates New Marketing And Communications De…

According to Color Point co-owner Ken VanWingerden, Maloney’s leadership in the new department will help the company better manage its recent growth both internally and with the entire industry.

Read More

January 13, 2016

Costa Farms Wins With Its Emphasis On Team, Solutions, …

Based in Miami, FL, Costa Farms has gone global by focusing on strategy, systems, and vertical integration. See how the operation continues to expand through its emphasis on team, solutions, and growth.

Read More
Costa Farms Owners

November 17, 2015

Costa Farms Named As International Grower Of The Year F…

The International Association of Horticultural Producers has announced its finalists for the International Grower of the Year award, and the list includes Costa Farms of Miami, Fla.

Read More
Tidal Creek Growers

October 17, 2015

Tidal Creek Growers Up Close And Personal [Photo Galler…

As one of the newest growers to make Greenhouse Grower's Top 100 Growers list at No. 98, Tidal Creek is a sharp operation dedicated to delivering high-quality products and top-notch customer service Check out this photo gallery to see its Davidsonville and Earlville facilities in Maryland and learn more about the operation.

Read More
Tidal Creek Growers Contract Mums

October 5, 2015

Fine-Tuning Greenhouse Contract Growing Keeps Costs In …

Tidal Creek Growers, No. 98 on Greenhouse Grower's Top 100 list, started out as a contract growing business and contracts still account for 35 percent of its business today. In order to keep costs in check and profits steady, owner Jake Van Wingerden is narrowing in on the types of crops he is willing to grow.

Read More
Top 100

May 8, 2015

2015 Greenhouse Grower Top 100 Grower List

The 2015 Top 100 Growers list represents the largest greenhouse operations in the United States. Greenhouse Grower magazine puts out a list annually based on environmentally controlled greenhouse space.

Read More
Top 100

May 8, 2015

The Top 100 Growers Tackle Crop Protection Challenges

We asked the Top 100 Growers how they have changed their production practices to address consumer concerns about pollinator health, as well as how integrated pest management and the use of biocontrols have changed their operations.

Read More
Top 100

May 8, 2015

2015 Greenhouse Grower Top 100 Growers: Reading The Ran…

For the second straight year, Greenhouse Grower’s Top 100 Growers survey shows the largest growers are rapidly expanding.

Read More
40

May 1, 2015

2015 Top 100 Growers: Young’s Plant Farm (No. 40)

Learn more about Young's Plant Farm, No. 40 on Greenhouse Grower's 2015 Top 100 Growers list.

Read More
39

May 1, 2015

2015 Top 100 Growers: Dewar Nurseries (No. 39)

Learn more about Dewar Nurseries, No. 39 on Greenhouse Grower's 2015 Top 100 Growers list.

Read More
36

May 1, 2015

2015 Top 100 Growers: Garden State Growers (No. 36)

Learn more about Garden State Growers, No. 36 on Greenhouse Grower's 2015 Top 100 Growers list.

Read More
[gravityform id="35" title="false" description="false"]