June 20, 2013

The Perennial Farm Is The 2013 Operation of the Year

A wholesale grower of perennials and grasses, The Perennial Farm in Glen Arm, Md., was founded in 1981 and now spans 50 acres of highly efficient greenhouses and growing fields. The operation also grows hardy ferns, groundcovers, and flowering shrubs and vines, including the signature Treadwell Plants brand, one of the first brands to use QR coding, featuring videos by Dr. Allan Armitage. The operation’s website, www.perennialfarm.com, markets The Perennial Farm as a price value leader and delivery specialists, committed to partnering with customers to deliver plants when they’re needed. Three other websites market Treadwell Plants, as well as consumer information on gardening with perennials, shrubs, grasses and native plants. Rick Watson established The Perennial Farm based on a need he observed in the market when he co-owned a landscape design and installation business. While he was planting ornamental grasses and perennials for customers, he realized there was only availability […]

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June 20, 2013

Dennis Crum Is The 2013 Head Grower Of The Year

Dennis Crum is a grower’s grower. The 21-year mainstay at Four Star Greenhouse spends a lot of his time on the telephone answering culture calls and flying around the country to work with growers, help them plan spring production, review their seasons and decide what to grow or replace. It’s all part of the partnership Four Star has established with its grower customers, but it’s also the role, among his many, that makes Crum the happiest. As the director of growing relations and the wearer of many hats, he says he’s first and foremost a grower at heart. He has mentored countless young growers and emphasizes hands-on education and training with his fellow production teammates. “I try to stay as close to the greenhouse and growing as I can,” he says. “I never want to lose touch and become a talking head.” Crum started at Four Star in 1992 to […]

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June 20, 2013

Corwin Graves Is A Head Grower Of The Year Nominee

When Rocket Farms merged with Nurserymen’s Exchange in 2011, the company also acquired a huge resource in head grower Corwin Graves, an eight-year veteran who was then in charge of the operation’s substantial miniature rose program. Learning how to grow roses taught the horticultural science graduate from Cal Poly-San Luis Obispo about the importance of stock management and that taking shortcuts in production leads to less-than-desirable results. Since then, the pride Graves takes in ensuring quality in all of Rocket Farms products shows in the company’s success. “We have built our reputation as a company by not taking shortcuts,” Graves says. “We have great facilities, an experienced and thoughtful staff, an ideal climate and a sense of pride that I think is uncommon in the trade.” Graves became head grower in 2011 and is responsible for all flowering products under the Rocket Farms brand, including 18 flagship and research and […]

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June 20, 2013

Rob O’Hara Is A Head Grower of the Year Nominee

For the second consecutive year, Rob O’Hara is a finalist for Head Grower of the Year. As someone who has truly helped to grow a business from the ground up, O’Hara’s reputation is synonymous with hands-on innovation, education, crop quality and leadership. In the 16 years O’Hara has been at Rainbow Greenhouses, the company has grown from just two acres to three fully automated locations that will grow to 50 acres by next year, with a 200-person staff.  O’Hara grew up in the greenhouse at his parents’ small operation on the prairie in Alberta, Canada. He studied greenhouse management at Alberta’s Olds College, where he continues to dedicate time and resources to up-and-coming students. Currently, he is helping students there research the use of renewable biochar to enrich growing media. Education has always been a focus for O’Hara, who promotes horticulture at a local secondary school program, where he mentors […]

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June 20, 2013

Ivan Tchakarov Is A Head Grower Nominee

Director of Growing Ivan Tchakarov is known for his ready smile, enthusiasm and willingness to learn and share knowledge with any grower who asks for it. Tchakarov is originally from Bulgaria, where he received a degree in horticulture and agriculture. He moved to England in 1994, and worked at Burelane Farm in Cambridge and Trent Valley Growers in Derby County. In 1999, when he was studying at The Ohio State University, he came to Metrolina Greenhouses for an 18-month internship, during which he worked in the tissue culture laboratory. Tchakarov was hired on as a plug grower and became director of propagation in 2006. Five years later, he was promoted to director of growing, in charge of all production across Metrolina’s 167 growing acres. Tchakarov spent 10 years developing plug procedures from start to finish. His emphasis on plug culture, scheduling, implementing new ideas and techniques and setting specific crop […]

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November 29, 2012

Nominate Someone Now For The Grower Of The Year Awards

Each year, Greenhouse Grower’s Grower of the Year program recognizes excellence in our industry by honoring an Operation of the Year and Head Grower of the Year. The awards, sponsored by BASF Professional Turf & Ornamentals, honor those who exhibit leadership and inspire others with their commitment to excellence. We need you to nominate deserving candidates for these awards. Operation of the Year nominees should also exemplify modern, high-quality production practices. In addition, they should demonstrate innovative marketing and strong customer service, embrace technology and provide community and industry leadership. Please provide details to support your nomination. Click here to nominate an Operation of the Year. Head Grower of the Year nominees should exemplify modern, high-quality production practices, embrace technology and innovation, lead, motivate and mentor others on staff, make valuable contributions to the operation’s management team and be actively engaged in the industry. Please provide details to support your […]

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January 16, 2012

Evening Of Excellence Is An Evening To Remember

For the first time this year, we’re opening up two Medal of Excellence awards to nominations from the industry. The Industry Achievement and Marketing awards, named historically by the magazine’s editor, will now go through a panel’s review after the nominations period ends February 28. Industry Achievement is a “lifetime achievement” award that recognizes individuals, companies and organizations that have dedicated their life’s work to advancing varieties and the floriculture industry. Adrian Bloom of Blooms of Bressingham received the award last year. The Medal of Excellence for Marketing award, meanwhile, honors innovative marketing programs that generate consumer interest and demand. Programs that receive this award are not new but tested in the marketplace for several years before consideration. To nominate for these two awards, as well as our Operation and Head Grower of the Year, visit GreenhouseGrower.com/Nominate. The Industry Achievement and Medal of Excellence for Marketing award winners will be […]

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January 6, 2012

How Customer Service Can Boost Your Bottom Line

The fax machine had a time and a place, but like the cassette tape player and the VCR, its role has diminished with the rise of new technology. Unfortunately, some growers still share their product availability with customers as if it’s the 1990s. But progressive businesses like Emerald Coast Growers are with the times and serving their customers at a deeper level while saving on labor. Emerald Coast, one of four finalists for Greenhouse Grower’s 2011 Operation of the Year, shares product availability online in two Excel formats– 52-week availability and quick-glance availability – at ECGrowers.com. “Our customers want information,” says Al Mueller, Emerald Coast’s vice president of finance. “They want to know availability, how their order is or what they have on order.” Customers want information at different times of the day too, Mueller says, and top-level customer service today means making information accessible at all times. Easy access […]

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October 12, 2011

Boost Your Bottom Line In Labor

One area growers and business owners in general feel powerless to control is rising health care costs. As providers of this employee benefit, growers often feel they are at the mercy of the insurance providers each year when it comes time to renew the coverage plan. And new federal regulations that are just beginning to be phased in have created a cloud of uncertainty. We shared what growers are doing to address this problem during a panel discussion we presented at the OFA Short Course this summer called “Boost Your Bottom Line.” The panelists were from our four Operation of the Year finalists: Bobby Barnitz (Bob’s Market and Greenhouses), Ken James (James Greenhouses), Marc Clark (Rocket Farms) and Al Mueller (Emerald Coast Growers). Barnitz and his human resources director have been working closely with their health care provider to explore ways to reduce costs and even had an evening meeting […]

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August 26, 2011

Mike Friddle And Speedling [Slideshow]

.Mike Friddle of Speedling is the 2011 Head Grower of the Year. Take a look at his crops in this slideshow.

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August 9, 2011

Bob’s Market and Greenhouses: Like Father, Like Sons

Scott Barnitz couldn’t believe the conversation he was hearing between his father, Bob, and a grower customer. Bob was about to make a deal that clearly favored the customer, and Scott, who was just establishing roots in the family business at the time, couldn’t fathom how his dad could settle for accepting less than the price their product was worth. But as Scott learned that day – and as he and his four brothers learned on many occasions growing up at Bob’s Market and Greenhouses – difficult decisions sometimes need to be made for the betterment of the business. “I’m not going to make a dime on every deal because that’s putting the dime before the customer,” Scott says. “Once in a while something strange happens, and you can’t jeopardize the relationship for just that one time. By the end of that day, I knew that particular customer would never […]

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