J. Berry Nursery, which specializes in plants such as crape myrtle and hibiscus, has bolstered its expertise in new product development with the hiring of Scott Sterling and Jim Steger.
Sterling will focus on brand development and plant production partnerships, deepening relationships with current partners, and creating opportunities with new ones for all J. Berry plants.
“Scott has a fantastic perspective on how to make it easy for everyone along the entire supply chain to grow, promote, and sell J. Berry Plants,” says Jim Berry. “His wealth of industry experience and contacts will make a huge difference for our customers and bring shared opportunities for all stakeholders in the supply chain.”
Sterling holds a Bachelor of Science in Horticulture from Kansas State University. As a horticultural professional for more than 25 years, Scott has worked with leaders in the horticulture industry including as Manager of Oglevee LTD in Pennsylvania. According to Berry, he understands how connecting consumer needs to reliable suppliers promotes long-term growth and enthusiasm for every individual in the supply chain.
While Sterling is opening new doors for J. Berry plants, Steger will make sure there are plenty of plants to go around. As the Production Resource Planner, he will organize the flow of production and the implementation of new machinery and processes.
Steger arrives at J. Berry after supporting the development and construction of some of the largest nurseries in Southern California, and brings a vast field of construction and management knowledge to the table. As a licensed general contractor, he installed and automated planting facilities, and planned, designed, and built greenhouses.
Greenhouse Grower recently caught up with Sterling and Steger and asked them about their new roles.
Greenhouse Grower (GG): How did your previous experience prepare you for this new role?
Scott Sterling: I had worked with a breeder company that helped me understand the importance of brand protection and promotion.
Jim Steger: I’ve worked in construction, development, and operations for most of my life. This background, along with many years working for commercial nurseries, allows me to offer many strategic ideas and processes that I’ve seen implemented at facilities all over the world. I’ve also learned over the years how to work cohesively with growers and management, working as a team to meet common goals.
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?
Sterling: Rising cost of production and capability to recoup investment on branded items. I plan to explain the benefit of breeders’ investments in promotion of the brand and convince them they can now demand higher prices for the branded programs.
GG: What are the biggest challenges this industry is currently facing? Conversely, what are some of the biggest opportunities on the horizon?
Sterling: The biggest challenges are the lack of qualified laborers and competition in commodity-driven product lines. We have an opportunity to grow more of the higher profitability plants and grow less of the commodity products and save total labor to add more money to the bottom line. It is also important to find products (branded programs) that provide higher return on investments.
Steger: I think margins have continued to shrink for nursery products over the years because of the big box store influence. Having said that, it’s up to us as a business to adapt. By strengthening operation planning and bringing on board lean flow solutions, we can maximize our profit while still delivering an outstanding product to the consumer.
GG: If you weren’t in this profession, what would you be doing?
Sterling: Probably education (teaching) or a professional fishing guide.
Steger: I’d be working in construction, development, and consulting. These are the things that have always brought fulfillment to my working career.