Henry Mast Greenhouses/Masterpiece Flower Company Builds Partnerships That Stand The Test Of Time

In 1948, Henry Mast Sr. arrived in Grand Rapids, Mich., fresh from The Netherlands with $300, three kids and a fondness for flowers. He had a dream to grow and sell flowers, which he quickly turned into a reality when he started growing in rented greenhouses with his children working at his side. Mast eventually purchased his own greenhouses in Byron Center, Mich., and Henry Mast Greenhouses was born.



Today, the operation, co-owned by Todd Potter, Shawn Koepnick, Ron Mercer, Leroy De Vries, Paul Bouma, Tim Stiles and Chris Mast, sprawls over 143 acres of land in Michigan and Wisconsin and includes 32 acres of covered greenhouses and 10 acres of outdoor growing area. Henry Mast Greenhouses is one of two production arms owned by the partners that supplies Masterpiece Flower Company, which is the management firm for all sales, marketing, distribution and merchandising for its two main customers, Meijer and The Home Depot.

Formed in 2002, the Masterpiece Flower Company includes Henry Mast Greenhouses, as well as Peak Transportation Solutions and Masterpiece Transportation, and the strategically located Whitewater Greenhouses near the Chicago market in Whitewater, Wis. The company also employs the contract services of approximately 35 growers.

Besides growing for Masterpiece, Henry Mast Greenhouses is also a contract grower for Four Star Greenhouse/Proven Winners. Four Star Greenhouse’s Director of Growing, and Greenhouse Grower’s 2013 Head Grower of the Year, Dennis Crum says Henry Mast Greenhouses/Masterpiece Flower Company has always been a leader in the greenhouse industry.

“It is a great example of a well-run company focused on quality, customer satisfaction and innovation,” Crum says. “Through the years, the owners have changed themselves and their business practices to stay ahead of our ever-evolving industry.”

A Strong Team En Route To A Common Goal

At any one time, the company juggles a mind-boggling amount of work, something that would be impossible without a strong team working toward a common goal. When hiring new employees, Stiles, Koepnick and De Vries look for attitude first, followed closely by ability and being a team player. If an employee has a good work ethic and a willingness to learn, management believes the rest will follow. And this philosophy has paid off, with highly dedicated, experienced employees that are mainly responsible for the company’s success.

With a strong team behind it, Henry Mast Greenhouse/Masterpiece Flower Company has maintained strong, enduring relationships with Meijer and The Home Depot. It knows its customers well and is dedicated to their success, believing strongly in Henry Mast Jr.’s words, “We’re only as successful as our customers and as happy as their customers.”

Partnerships Centered On Trust And Communication

The partnerships between Masterpiece Flower Company and its customers go beyond standard working relationships, diverging into unique bonds strengthened by mutual respect, cooperation and free exchange of information and ideas.

“Meijer has taught us how to think like a retailer,” Stiles says. “It introduced us to scan-based trading 13 years ago and helped us understand how to replenish stores with daily scan reports. Working closely with The Home Depot for nearly two decades has taught us how a mass marketer can transform into a premier garden center when retailer and grower work together toward a common goal.”

Henry Mast Greenhouses has always specialized in indoor floral crops like poinsettias and Easter lilies, but over the years, the spring line has evolved from 100 percent seed geranium (at one point 25 percent of the nation’s production of seed geranium) to a full offering of spring through fall annuals including, hanging baskets, patio containers, branded potted plants, bedding plants and vegetables.

Stiles says it has been rewarding to expand the plant products to include hundreds of different species and varieties in a wide range of packages and price points. He says the initial adjustment was difficult at first, prompting the operation to step outside of its comfort zone, but customers’ feedback triggered needed improvements.

“Listening to our customers and being open to suggestions and criticism helped us improve in areas where we needed it,” Stiles says. “Being willing to change and find new methods helps keep our quality up, which in turn enhances our customers’ reputations.”

Meijer’s attitude closely mirrors that of Stiles. “Retailing is a fast-paced business that demands continuous improvement,” says Jeff Lynch, live goods merchant for Meijer. “It is a collaborative effort where we share ideas and information. We are always open to constructive criticism, which fuels our competitive spirit and helps us win in the marketplace.”

Problems Or Opportunities

In order to help its customers win in the marketplace, Henry Mast Greenhouses/Masterpiece Flower Company is quick to see opportunities when customers come to them with problems. Many ventures the company has undertaken were in response to helping its customers solve problems, and both sides have benefited. Peak Transportation, for instance, was started as a way to lower customer costs and improve shipping services. The investment in carts, refrigerated trailers and lift-gates has helped the company perform better during the peak month of May.

Stiles says a willingness to work with customers and getting to know their needs and expectations isn’t just a good practice for growers working with big-box stores. Single growers serving a few retailers in small metro areas can do more to build customer relationships.

“Talk with your customers, understand their needs and be willing to take some of the risk together or share information,” Stiles says.

Making Customers’ Jobs Easier

Since its modest beginnings in the 1950s, Henry Mast Greenhouses/Masterpiece Flower Company’s goal has been to supply top quality plants and provide customer satisfaction. By doing this, it helps ease its customers’ burdens.

“Henry Mast Greenhouses/Masterpiece Flower Company asks questions when needed and listens and communicates well,” Crum says. “It also researches a situation well, and most importantly, sets up trials to look for corrections or improvements without being asked. The company is organized and accurate with reports and delivers in a timely manner. All of which makes my job much easier.”

Here’s What Customers Are Saying About Masterpiece Flower Company

“Masterpiece Flower Company is one of the best at understanding the quality expectations our customers demand. Masterpiece’s replenishment team utilizes strong analytical skills and sound product flow strategy to maximize sales. On-time delivery from Peak and in-store merchandising support contribute to making Masterpiece a top performer day-in and day-out. The team works tirelessly throughout the season to get the job done.” -Jeff Lynch, Live Goods Merchant, Meijer

“Henry Mast Greenhouses/Masterpiece Flower Company shows that no matter how much our industry or customers may change, if you look around the industry and listen to your customers, not only can you survive, but also thrive. It has seen opportunities in the marketplace and taken the steps necessary to satisfy those needs by focusing on quality crops, great service, innovation and efficiency.” -Dennis Crum, Director of Growing, Four Star Greenhouse

“The Masterpiece team continues to produce positive growth year-over-year in both units and retail dollars with The Home Depot. This is taking place in markets where there have been no new store additions. The team is also a major contributor to the reason that we continue to take market share in the markets they supply because they make everyone else around them better.” – David Graham, Live Goods Merchant, The Home Depot

Topics: , , ,

Leave a Reply

More From Grower of the Year...
Heating Roundup Feature Image

August 1, 2015

5 New Heating Options For The Greenhouse

Five heating systems manufacturers share their latest and greatest products. Tubing And Aluminum Heat Pipes (BioTherm) From Megatube and MicroClimate tubing to DuoFin and StarFin aluminum heat pipe, BioTherm is dedicated to providing heat solutions that can withstand the toughest greenhouse environments. The MegaTube and MicroClimate tubing options are easy to install and ideal for bench or floor heating. The tubing has a conductive heating surface that allows for maximum root-zone heating. The DuoFin and StarFin aluminum pipe options are great for perimeter heating and melting snow trapped in the greenhouse gutter. It can also be useful for bench heating. Both pipe options provide gentle, radiant heat for plants and don’t require welding. TrueLeaf.net Infinite Energy 2 Condensing Boiler (Delta T Solutions) With up to 98 percent efficiency, the IE2 condensing boiler boasts a stainless steel heat exchanger with larger waterways to ensure maximum heat transfer. The product’s design ensures flexibility while […]

Read More

July 31, 2015

All-America Selections Promotes Garden-Fresh Cooking

All-America Selections (AAS) has stepped forward with another first when promoting AAS Winners, this time in the form of cooking videos using vegetables/edibles that have performed extremely well in the AAS Trials. These days, a love of gardening is directly related to a passion for cooking. Tying the two together is a natural when marketing joys of cooking with fresh vegetables from the garden and farm market. After 82 years of conducting trials where only the best performers are declared AAS Winners, the organization now has more than 325 individual varieties that have been “Tested Nationally & Proven Locally.” It is some of these many varieties that culinary storyteller, entertainer and horticulture industry veteran Jonathan Bardzik will use in a series of five videos demonstrating cooking techniques with AAS Winning herbs and vegetables. “I am excited to partner with All-America Selections to show people across the country that AAS Winners perform […]

Read More
Burpee Home Gardens Brand Adds Flowers

July 31, 2015

4 Reasons Retailers Snub National Brands

Greenhouse Grower’s lead editor, Laura Drotleff, and I got into a debate about why garden retailers, especially independent garden centers, snub marketing efforts from breeders and growers. She was very much on the breeders’ and growers’ side, expressing frustration about how limited retailers’ vision can be on the topic. I’ve reported on the garden retail side of the industry since 1998, about the same length of time Laura has reported on growers. I’ve heard a lot of retailer views on this, so allow me to share the most common reasons why retailers decline free marketing: Costs. While the marketing materials are free, and sometimes advertising, participating in these projects usually requires minimum orders. From a grower’s perspective, the minimum orders are reasonable. If garden stores promote a plant line, they need to have enough supplies to satisfy demand. From a retail perspective, if inventory reports show a plant line can […]

Read More
Latest Stories
Tom Wheeler, Bell Nursery USA

July 15, 2015

Tom Wheeler Of Bell Nursery Named Greenhouse Grower&…

Tom Wheeler of Bell Nursery is Greenhouse Grower's Head Grower of the Year for 2015. His leadership on a company level and throughout the industry and his willingness to share his knowledge to help others makes him a worthy recipient for this reward.

Read More
CEO Karl Stensson, Sheridan-Nurseries

July 15, 2015

Sheridan Nurseries Named Greenhouse Grower’s Oper…

Sheridan Nurseries was named Operation of the Year at Greenhouse Grower’s Evening of Excellence, held July 13, at Cultivate’15 in Columbus, Ohio. The company was also awarded for Excellence In Perennials Prouction, based on its reputation for plant quality and the activities the nursery has led and been a part of, both within its company and in the industry at large. Sheridan Nurseries is Canada’s largest grower of hardy nursery plants and has been in business for more than a century, having opened in 1913. The operation has two production facilities with a combined 900 acres, plus eight retail garden centers. Its Norval, Ontario, facility includes 83 acres and 340,000 square feet of heated production space. There, Sheridan grows annuals, perennials and vines and propagates its own nursery stock liners. Woody plants, including trees, shrubs, evergreens and broadleaf evergreens, are produced at its Glen Williams, Ontario, container and field nursery, which […]

Read More
Ron Van der Hengst, South Central Growers

June 19, 2015

Ron Van der Hengst Of South Central Growers Is A Finali…

Ron Van de Hengst’s concentrated focus on improving production practices and finding better ways to turn out a top quality product makes him a deserving finalist for the 2015 Head Grower of the Year and recipient of the 2015 Excellence In Production award.

Read More
CEO Karl Stensson, Sheridan-Nurseries

June 18, 2015

Sheridan Nurseries Is A Finalist For 2015 Operation Of …

Sheridan Nurseries is Canada’s largest grower of hardy nursery plants and has been in business since 1913. It is one of three finalists for Greenhouse Grower’s Operation Of The Year award and winner of the Excellence In Perennials Production award for 2015.

Read More
Casey Houweling Houwelings Tomatoe

June 18, 2015

Houweling’s Tomatoes Is A Finalist For 2015 Operation O…

Houweling’s Tomatoes is an innovative greenhouse operation based in Delta, British Columbia that grows a full array of tomato and cucumber varieties. It is the winner of Greenhouse Grower’s Excellence in Vegetable Production for 2015.

Read More
Tom Wheeler, Bell Nursery USA

June 16, 2015

Bell Nursery USA’s Tom Wheeler Is A Finalist For …

Tom Wheeler’s individual-based and broad scale industry leadership and innovative ideas for high-quality production makes him a deserving finalist for the 2015 Head Grower of the Year and recipient of the 2015 Excellence In Leadership award.

Read More
Ed van Hoven and family_American Color

June 9, 2015

American Color Is A Finalist For Greenhouse Grower’s Op…

American Color, a grower located in Orange, Va. that started with one acre of land, is one of three finalists for Greenhouse Grower’s Operation Of The Year and the recipient of the Excellence In Annuals Production award for 2015. Since opening in 1998, the operation has grown to include 784,080 square feet of greenhouse space and 20 acres of field production. American Color grows annuals, perennials and holiday plants, and its main customers are Costco and Kmart, as well as Food City and various independent garden centers. The operation also does contract growing for Metrolina Greenhouses. “We’re extremely proud to receive this nomination at American Color, because it really validates our approach to this industry. Our mission at American Color is to provide superior plant quality, excellent customer service, and unmatched commitment to all of our customers,” Owner and President Ed Van Hoven says. “When you can (provide that) to […]

Read More
Nick Gerace/Welby Gardens

June 3, 2015

Welby Gardens’ Nick Gerace Finalist For 2015 Head…

Nick Gerace’s enthusiastic leadership and focus on smarter growing with less hours on the job makes him a deserving finalist for the 2015 Head Grower of the Year and recipient of the 2015 Excellence In Innovation award.

Read More

November 11, 2014

2015 Grower Of The Year Awards Nominations Now Open

The Grower of the Year program encompasses two distinct awards: Operation Of The Year and Head Grower Of The Year. Tell us about an operation or head grower you believe we should consider today.

Read More

August 27, 2014

2014 Head Grower Of The Year Ivan Tchakarov: An Enthusi…

Greenhouse Grower’s 2014 Grower of the Year Ivan Tchakarov accepts challenges, embraces the latest technology and leads his team with a positive attitude.

Read More

August 27, 2014

Henry Mast Greenhouses/Masterpiece Flower Company Build…

Greenhouse Grower’s 2014 Operation of the Year builds long-standing, mutually beneficial customer relationships that last.

Read More

August 22, 2014

Highlights From Greenhouse Grower’s Evening Of Ex…

Greenhouse Grower’s Evening of Excellence, held at Cultivate’14’, celebrated outstanding efforts in breeding, growing and marketing, but more than that, it was a celebration of individuals and operations that strive for excellence in their daily work.  

Read More

July 15, 2014

Greenhouse Grower Thrilled To Honor 2014 Medal of Excel…

Check out the breeders, growers and new varieties that earned the Greenhouse Grower Medal of Excellence awards for 2014.

Read More

July 15, 2014

Ivan Tchakarov Of Metrolina Greenhouse Named Greenhouse…

Metrolina Greenhouse's Director of Growing Ivan Tchakarov was named Grower of the Year at Greenhouse Grower's Evening of Excellence, held July 14 at Cultivate'14 in Columbus, Ohio.

Read More

July 15, 2014

Henry Mast Greenhouses Named Greenhouse Grower’s …

Henry Mast Greenhouses is named as Operation of the Year at Greenhouse Grower's Evening of Excellence on Monday, July 14 at Cultivate'14 in Columbus, Ohio.

Read More

June 13, 2014

Ron Godden of Wenke Greenhouses Is A 2014 Finalist For …

Ron Godden of Wenke Greenhouses enjoys the challenge of growing and has a genuine love for the intensity of the spring season.

Read More

June 12, 2014

Andy Buist of Micandy Garden Greenhouses Is A 2014 Fina…

Head Grower Of The Year Finalist Andy Buist is a hardworking grower with over 50 years of experience who encourages his employees and spreads his passion to everyone around him.

Read More

June 10, 2014

Jill West Of Al’s Garden Center And Greenhouses I…

Innovation and strong leadership skills make Jill West a worthy finalist for Head Grower of the Year.

Read More