Contract growing isnâ€™t for everyone, but the majority of the Top 100 Growers are involved in one capacity or another. Many are the principal growers of Walmart, Home Depot and Loweâ€™s who contract others to produce particular crops for their big box customers. Others are the growers taking orders from those principal growers, filling up their greenhouses when they can with 100,000 pansy flats here and 75,000 color bowls there.
But regardless of whether a Top 100 Grower is involved in contract growing or not, the majority of the Top 100 (67 percent) believe contract growing is a healthy way to do business. The benefits contract growers reap are numerous, after all.
â€œWe have better space utilization, weâ€™re able to maintain labor and spread overhead costs,â€� says George Lucas, the owner of Lucas Greenhouses in Monroeville, N.J.
Adds Speedling CEO Greg Davis: â€œContract growing allows us to leverage a larger sales force and helps us to focus on quality and efficiency of production.â€�
In our surveys, we actually broke growers into four separate contract-growing categories:
1) Growers who produce plant material for other growers through contracts;
2) Growers who contract other growers to produce material for them;
3) Growers who produce plant material for other growers through contracts and contract other growers to produce material for them;
4) Growers who sell 100 percent of their material direct.
Many of the Top 100 Growers who responded share Lucasâ€™s and Davisâ€™s positive sentiments.
All seven growers in the contract-growing group who responded (Group 1), for example, indicate business as a contract grower has been steady from year to year. All seven also indicate contract growing is a healthy way to do business.
There is a flip side, though. The group of growers selling 100 percent direct (Group 4) are more skeptical about contract growing. Of the 15 growers in this group who responded, four (27 percent) indicate contract growing is not a healthy way to do business and eight (53 percent) arenâ€™t sure whether contract growing is healthy or not. Ten of the 15 serving direct, however, indicate theyâ€™ve never tried contract growing.