Greenhouse Industry Consolidation May Not Be A Bad Thing (Opinion)

Robin Siktberg

In the year I’ve been with Greenhouse Grower, we’ve reported at least once a month on companies being merged with or purchased by someone else. Breeders, suppliers, growers — no area of the industry has been exempt. Agribio/Ecke, Griffin/Syngenta Hort, BASF/Becker Underwood and more. Just this morning, Rough Brothers announced they were consolidating Golden Pacific Structures’ product line.

Harder to report on are the number of businesses closing or declaring bankruptcy: Elzinga Hoeksema, Ellison’s, XS Smith, Kerry’s. It’s a sign of a maturing industry, experts say, and no doubt they’re right. In some cases that process has been accelerated by a struggling economy.

We wanted to know what the industry at large thought of this trend, so we posed the question in our annual State of the Industry survey late last year. (For the full report visit GreenhouseGrower.com/March2013.)

Not surprisingly, the question elicited some strong opinions on both sides.

“I think the buying-up or merging of companies is a negative,” says Preston Cox of Perennial Favorites Nursery. “It reduces competitive pricing, resulting in higher prices.” Cox spoke for nearly half of the respondents, who also had a negative view.
“Competition is essential both for professionals and consumers,” says Erik Jacobsen of Parkway Gardens. “It drives innovation, keeps pricing fair and encourages diversity. Lack of of competition leads to stagnation, higher prices and lack of selection.”

A smaller percentage of growers (29 percent)took a more philosophical view, saying the change is inevitable and can be beneficial, even for smaller 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,” says Barry Ritter, of Ritter Horticultural Service. “Keep a great attitude and build a great relationship with your customers.”

“That’s capitalism,” says David Vos of Vander Giessen Nursery. “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.”

What do I think? I’m not someone who loves change, but I do believe strongly what Eckart Tolle says in A New Earth: “The most rigid structures, the most impervious to change, will collapse first.”

The change in our industry is inevitable. It is happening. But those who adapt to it the fastest will find a way to make it work for them and become successful in a new way.

Leave a Reply

More From Editorial...
Lavandula 'Meerlo' (Sunset Western Garden Collection)

March 3, 2015

Why You Will Still Grow Today’s Big Perennial 10 Years From Now

What will be the next big perennial? Breeders say it takes more than a splashy plant to distinguish itself in the market. Therefore, the question is not what will be the next big perennial, but rather what perennial performs well enough in the garden to have staying power in the market for years to come.

Read More

March 2, 2015

Avoid Surprises On The Delivery Dock

A call in advance about problems with a plant shipment to a retailer you supply goes a long way toward customer satisfaction.

Read More
Janeen Wright

March 2, 2015

Deliver Plant Quality That Trumps Price [Opinion]

The industry's goal is to have loyal customers who return to the same plants time and time again, not because of price, but owing to a plant brand that shouts top-notch garden performance and is synonymous with excellence, which gives them the secure knowledge that their investment will be worth every hard-earned cent.

Read More
Latest Stories
Janeen Wright

March 2, 2015

Deliver Plant Quality That Trumps Price [Opinion]

The industry's goal is to have loyal customers who return to the same plants time and time again, not because of price, but owing to a plant brand that shouts top-notch garden performance and is synonymous with excellence, which gives them the secure knowledge that their investment will be worth every hard-earned cent.

Read More
Laura Drotleff

February 10, 2015

Biocontrols Aren’t Scary [Opinion]

Crafting a softer pest management program is likely in everyone’s future — if it’s not here already, especially due to increasing regulation and growing consumer concern over pesticide use. Learn more about biocontrols to determine how they could fit in with your goals and production practices.

Read More
Laura Drotleff

January 5, 2015

“Growers Are Artisans” [Opinion]

We need to elevate the craft of growing to attract young talent to our industry.

Read More

December 1, 2014

Consumers, Retailers Only Hearing Voices Of Protest

Speak up about your operation's responsible practices.

Read More
Laura Drotleff

November 12, 2014

5 Ways Growers Can Be More Sustainable [Opinion]

While you're still preparing your operation for spring and investing in new ideas, consider employing some of these improvements to save money and resources.

Read More

October 1, 2014

Greenhouse Grower Issues A New Challenge To The Industr…

Let's rally behind the healthy pollinators initiative. How will you step up to the challenge?

Read More

September 15, 2014

What Does Precision Horticulture Mean To You?

Precision horticulture is what you do every day — growing with precision for efficiency and profitability.

Read More

July 28, 2014

How Gen X & Y Horticulturists Will Change The Indus…

Seek out young professionals in the industry and in your operation to develop new ways to do business, improve communication and address consumers. How have you cultivated ideas from younger generations?

Read More
Laura Drotleff

July 8, 2014

Consider Hiring Non-Traditional Growers To Secure Our I…

Your operation can benefit from hiring returning veterans, professionals changing careers and non-traditional students, in addition to horticulture graduates. Where have you had luck recruiting?

Read More
Carol Miller

June 3, 2014

Consumer Success Is Key To Industry Success [Opinion]

Many breeders are aware of the problem and are striving to ensure that plants in a customer’s home garden will live up to the visual appeal the plant has on a store display bench. A lot of the resulting plants were on display in California.

Read More

June 3, 2014

Active Grower Voices Are Invaluable To Retailers, Consu…

Creating our own advocacy is an important tool in areas like presenting science-based knowledge about pollinator health, and informing the public about how growers already preserve natural resources through responsible practices like integrated pest management (IPM), water reclamation and recycling, plastic recycling and sustainability initiatives.

Read More

May 7, 2014

Stand Firm, But Speak Gently

Teach your community about how much the floriculture industry depends on pollinators and the responsible actions we take to ensure their safety. Listen to consumer concerns, help build bee havens and hotels and promote and plant pollinator-friendly gardens.

Read More

March 26, 2014

The Case For Locally Grown

A growing consumer desire for locally grown produce is one reason greenhouse ornamentals producers should consider vegetable production.

Read More

March 10, 2014

Geek Is The New Chic

Let's make it a priority to show kids and the general public how cool horticulture really is.

Read More

February 1, 2014

Are eCommerce And Non-Traditional Retail Outlets Right …

Evaluate your business to determine how you can make your products and services more relevant to next-generation consumers.

Read More

December 31, 2013

Plants Are Our Friends — With Benefits

Communicating the health benefits of plants is an effective way to market to younger generations.

Read More
Laura Drotleff (right) and Robin Siktberg

December 2, 2013

Change And The Next 30 Years Of The Greenhouse Industry…

The December 2013 issue of Greenhouse Grower is all about change. Change for you and your greenhouse business and for our industry as a whole. Some changes will be no-brainers. Some will be hard. Some will take a lot of imagination and creativity. But they’re all changes for the better.

Read More

October 18, 2013

Grower Trials Benefit The Whole Industry [Opinion]

Each year, growers are faced with the choice of what to grow for the following spring. It’s an important decision requiring evaluation of a number of factors: what sold well last year, what shipped well, what will fit into the production schedule, what had a decent profit margin. And then there are the hundreds of new varieties that are introduced each year. Which ones should a grower try, if any? This is where field trials come in, and is one reason we devote significant space to the results in our November issue each year. Trials are where the wheat is separated from the chaff. Field trials used to be the primary province of university horticulture departments, but more and more, growers are running their own. It is a significant investment of time and resources, so what is the reason? Al Gerace, owner of Welby Gardens in Fort Collins, Colo., says […]

Read More