Top 100 Growers: Plugged Into Performance

Floral Plant Growers is revitalizing its heritage as a leading young plant producer by zeroing in on order fulfillment

You don’t have to reinvent the wheel or invest in new systems and technology to make significant gains in your business. Floral Plant Growers has doubled its young plant business in just four years by doing a better job and creating a corporate culture with all employees focused on results.

Based in Denmark, Wisc., with satellite facilities in Iowa and Indiana, Floral Plant Growers (FPG) produces mostly finished plants for large retailers. But, a big part of its legacy is Greiling Farms, a leading plug producer in the 1980s and ’90s FPG purchased in 1997.

FPG President Dean Chaloupka recalls when founder Gene Greiling introduced him to plugs while working for him in his college years. “I remember seeing these odd plug trays,” Chaloupka says. “We used to sow seed in bulk trays and pull the seedlings out by hand. Gene told me about other industry leaders who were working on plugs and said this would be the way we would produce them in the future.” 

Plugs took off and Greiling Farms went on to produce millions of them at a 30-acre facility in Florida and another 8 acres in Georgia, which is now owned by Speedling. But under the new ownership, the focus shifted to finished plant production while still producing young plants under Greiling’s Natural Beauty brand. Chaloupka became concerned when plug customers were saying FPG’s order fulfillment was way down. “We wanted to address this but all we had was subjective input,” he says.

Measuring Up

The solution was to measure FPG’s performance and identify the most important metrics for serving grower and broker customers. “As it applies to the young plant program, it boils down to one measurement–on-time order fulfillment,” Chaloupka says. “What does that mean? It means the customer gets exactly what they ordered in the week it was ordered for.”

FPG began the journey in 2005 by establishing a baseline year with a performance of 94.6 percent. “Is that good or bad? It doesn’t matter if we think it’s good or bad if the customer thinks it’s bad,” Chaloupka says. In 2006, FPG moved the performance needle from 94.6 to 98.5 percent and has been above 98 percent ever since. So far this year, the performance is 98.9 percent.

“We track every last order to determine if we shipped out exactly what was ordered,” he says. “Things happen, but we don’t make excuses. If we ship early or late, we will do that if it’s the right thing to do. But every time we do that, it’s a miss and counts against our score. It’s not that the customers didn’t get the product, just not exactly when they ordered it for.” Substitutions also count as a miss. Pleased with the progress in plugs, FPG started extending this concept to the finished plant side, measuring on-time planting and delivery of all crops.

“We track our ability to deliver our crops as scheduled every week of the year,” Chaloupka explains. “The results were lower on the finished side, but this year we’re already seeing marked improvement. It relates to our ability to supply product to finished customers. Their metrics are different, but our ability to predict internally how to finish will translate into us meeting needs retail customers have for us.”

Creating A Corporate Culture

FPG reinforces its commitment to performance by posting its weekly score card throughout the company in break rooms and warehouses, and goals are communicated through company meetings and its internal newsletter all year. Broker customers and their sales representatives also receive weekly reports. “If the report is not up and out by Thursday, I’m the one looking for it. It’s important,” Chaloupka says. “It has to be understood that everybody in senior management believes in it and that we’re uncompromising. Employees are smart. If they hear us talk about it but don’t live it, they’ll think it’s a fraud.”

As FPG’s young plant numbers grow, Chaloupka acknowledges it will be harder to achieve 98.9 percent performance. “But it’s not outside the realm of possibility to double our business again in three years,” he says. “We see people gravitating to what we have to offer. We’ve shown we are a specialist and are dedicated to this. We do understand the pressures our grower customers are dealing with and we’re not going to add pressure and doubt and stress as a supplier.”

Leave a Reply

More From Top 100 Growers...

May 22, 2015

Nexus Greenhouses Is Optimistic For Expansion Into New Markets

Cheryl Longtin and Mike Porter, who own Nexus Corporation, say they were excited to attend the grand opening of Gotham Greens’ new structure atop the new Whole Foods grocery store in the Gowanus neighborhood in Brooklyn, N.Y., when it opened in December 2013. The project is just one example of some of the new and expanding markets that Nexus Corporation has expanded into over the past few years. Jeff Warschauer, vice president of sales for Nexus, says the company has enjoyed getting to know and working with the founders of Gotham Greens, Viraj Puri and Eric Haley, and Jennifer Nelkin Frymark, the chief agriculture officer, on their innovative approach to business. “They are very excited and work hard internally – just great people,” he says. “From our perspective, it’s great to see that excitement and vision. The employees there are happy and there’s no turnover; they’re only adding new people […]

Read More
Farwest2015

May 20, 2015

2015 Farwest Show Announces Second Annual Equipment Innovation Day

The second annual Equipment Innovation Day will be Tuesday, Aug. 25, prior to the 2015 Farwest show, which will be August 27-29 in Portland, Ore. Equipment Innovation Day, which was enthusiastically received in 2014, offers a real-time opportunity to see new heavy and automated nursery equipment in action. The demonstrations take place in manufacturing and nursery settings, adding value to the showcase. Attendees will be able to talk with participating manufacturers and learn first-hand from innovative growers who use the equipment in daily operations. The day-long event will be held at the main manufacturing plant of GK Machines, Inc., Donald, Ore. Further demonstrations of field equipment will take place at the nearby nursery of A&R Spada Farms, LLC. Bus travel to and from the event is planned, starting at and returning to the Oregon Convention Center. Attendees are welcome to provide their own travel to and from the site. Preregistration is required. The cost […]

Read More
Bee On Flower

May 20, 2015

White House Task Force Releases Pollinator Health Strategy

An interagency Pollinator Health Task Force commissioned by President Obama released its “Strategy to Promote the Health of Honey Bees and Other Pollinators” on May 19. The strategy, released in accordance with the Presidential Memorandum issued last June, is accompanied by a Pollinator Research Action Plan, which outlines needs and priority actions to better understand pollinator losses and improve pollinator health. The recommended actions will be supported by a coordination of existing federal research efforts and accompanied by a request to Congress for additional resources to respond to losses in pollinator populations. Pages 47 through 52 specifically address pesticides and pollinators. The report calls out plant production, native plants, mosquito control and all urban uses in its Pollinator Action Plan. RISE (Responsible Industry for a Sound Environment) says it supports the goals of improving pollinator health and habitat contained in the White House Pollinator Task Force’s release of its National […]

Read More
Latest Stories
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
35

May 1, 2015

2015 Top 100 Growers: Plant Marketing (No. 35)

Learn more about Plant Marketing, No. 35 on Greenhouse Grower's 2015 Top 100 Growers list.

Read More
48

May 1, 2015

2015 Top 100 Growers: Van Wingerden International Inc. …

Learn more about Van Wingerden International Inc., No. 48 on Greenhouse Grower's 2015 Top 100 Growers list.

Read More
50

May 1, 2015

2015 Top 100 Growers: Bailey Nurseries (No. 50)

Learn more about Bailey Nurseries International Inc., No. 50 on Greenhouse Grower's 2015 Top 100 Growers list.

Read More
26a

May 1, 2015

2015 Top 100 Growers: Bela Flor Nurseries (No. 26)

Learn more about Bela Flor Nurseries , No. 26 on Greenhouse Grower's 2015 Top 100 Growers List

Read More
34

May 1, 2015

2015 Top 100 Growers: Battlefield Farms, Inc. (No. 34)

Learn more about Battlefield Farms, Inc., No. 34 on Greenhouse Grower's 2015 Top 100 Growers list.

Read More
44

May 1, 2015

2015 Top 100 Growers: Post Gardens, Inc. (No. 44)

Learn more about Post Gardens, Inc., No. 44 on Greenhouse Grower's 2015 Top 100 Growers list.

Read More
43

May 1, 2015

2015 Top 100 Growers: Grower Direct Farms (No. 43)

Learn more about Grower Direct Farms, No. 43 on Greenhouse Grower's 2015 Top 100 Growers list.

Read More
2015 Top 100 Growers 75

May 1, 2015

2015 Top 100 Growers: Harts Nursery (No. 75)

Learn more about Harts Nursery, No. 75 on Greenhouse Grower's 2015 Top Growers list.

Read More
2015 Top 100 Growers 71

May 1, 2015

2015 Top 100 Growers: Van de Wetering Greenhouses (No. …

Learn more about Van de Wetering Greenhouses, No. 71 on Greenhouse Grower's 2015 Top Growers list.

Read More
2015 Top 100 Growers 71

May 1, 2015

2015 Top 100 Growers: Welby Gardens Co./Hardy Boy Plant…

Learn more about Welby Gardens Co./Hardy Boy Plants-Hardystarts, No. 71 on Greenhouse Grower's 2015 Top Growers list.

Read More
2015 Top 100 Growers 65

May 1, 2015

2015 Top 100 Growers: Corso’s Perennials (No. 65)

Learn more about Corso's Perennials, No. 65 on Greenhouse Grower's 2015 Top Growers list.

Read More
2015 Top 100 Growers 64

May 1, 2015

2015 Top 100 Growers: Bob’s Market And Greenhouse…

Learn more about Bob's Market And Greenhouses, No. 64 on Greenhouse Grower's 2015 Top Growers list.

Read More