AG 3, a liner producer specializing in perennials, grasses, hosta, bulbs, tropical foliage, and carnivorous plants, has hired Katy Furnas as the company’s new Sales Manager. Furnas worked with AG 3 from 2003 to 2008 as the lead sales person, then took a hiatus to begin her family. According to the company, her love for plants and relationships that she formed during her past time with AG 3 brought her back.
Greenhouse Grower magazine recently caught up with Furnas and asked her more about her new role, and how she plans to work closely with growers.
Greenhouse Grower (GG): How did your previous experience prepare you for this new role?
Furnas: My position with AG 3, Inc. began in 2003 in sales. After leaving in 2008 to stay home with my children, I began to run my own home-based business. Now back at AG 3 in 2015, many things have changed; however a lot is still the same. Sometimes when you are working so in-depth in a certain position you cannot see a solution right away. But coming back after seven years, I’m able to step in and see what needs to be worked on and what opportunities there are for our sales department. We currently have a phenomenal sales team. I have been impressed with our group from day one and am excited to work with them going into 2016.
GG: What are the some of the biggest issues or concerns you’ve heard from the growers you work with, and how do you plan to help them deal with these issues?
Furnas: Supply and demand have always been a challenge for us. We continue to meet with breeders in search of the next best variety to introduce. It’s about a two- to three-year process to really be able to evaluate a certain crop and decide what kind of numbers we will need to work up to. It then becomes a constant evaluation of what we must continue to grow and increase production on, and what we should scale back on or cut out of our line.
GG: What are the biggest challenges this industry is currently facing? Conversely, what are some of the biggest opportunities on the horizon?
Furnas: Production challenges seem to be on the minds of everyone. Regardless of the reason (lack of employees, weather, or just more supply than demand), missing a sale always hurts the production chain.
Specialization of crops is a new and expanding opportunity for the industry that keeps things exciting. There are many little niche markets popping up in the industry such as fairy gardens and the necessity of growing your own fruits and vegetables.
GG: Looking ahead, what role can you play in moving this industry forward?
Furnas: My goal at AG 3 is to really focus our sales department on customer service. We strive to have great working relationships with our customers so we can give them the best possible service. Our goal is to better supply our customers with new products and encourage new varieties to their existing line. By knowing everything we can about their production schedules, buying seasons, and product lines, we can partner with them and work together.
GG: If you weren’t in this profession, what would you be doing?
Furnas: Retail and sales have always been my background. Whether it’s plants, jewelry, or clothing, it’s still the same concept of running a sales department. The funny thing, though, is I have been a part of this industry in one way or another my entire life. My mom has owned her own foliage nursery for as long as I can remember. Growing up this way, I always said I would never have anything to do with plants after working hundreds of hot summer hours in the nursery. And now look at me … it’s in my blood, and I love it!