Team Empowerment Pays Off at Micandy Gardens Greenhouses

Micandy Ownership Team feature
Photos by Kate Feuerstein.

What happens when two farmers fall in love? For Andy and Micki Buist, co-owners of Greenhouse Grower’s 2017 Operation of the Year Micandy Gardens Greenhouses, it has resulted in 53 years of spreading joy with flowers.

And after all these years, what still drives Micandy’s success is a strong desire to provide beautiful plants for people to enjoy and better their lives, all while being a good steward of the earth.

After graduation from high school, Micki and Andy started growing on leased land in Hudsonville, MI, and named their business Micandy, a combination of both their first names. Micki’s grandfather gave them the idea, suggesting they try their hand at growing flowers. It turns out they had the skill and passion for it.

Today the wholesale operation includes 580,000 square feet of production space spread over 14 acres. It sows more than a million seeds a year and has more than a thousand vegetative varieties. Micandy specializes in the propagation of annuals, providing plugs and liners to other growers, retailers, and landscapers. It also offers finished products to retail chains and independent garden centers. Over the last few years, Micandy has expanded into perennials and recently added a new outdoor growing area dedicated to this crop.

Grower Team at Micandy Gardens
Terry Foster (left), Andy Buist (middle), and Alberto Tierrablanca (right), head up the grower team at Micandy.

Micandy is More Than a Business — It’s a Way of Life

Keeping everything watered, at the right temperature, and moving smoothly from propagation to shipping is no easy feat. Micandy gets the job done using innovations such as a monorail system to move plants, and high-pressure sodium supplemental lighting in its propagation range to enhance plug germination and improve the rooting of cuttings. Last year, Micandy transitioned much of its lighting from incandescent to light-emitting diode (LED) systems. Energy efficient unit heaters warm the greenhouses, while high-efficiency fluorescent lights provide the greenhouses with ample lighting.

In 2015, Micandy qualified for energy efficient certification through the Michigan Agriculture Environmental Assurance Program. It also implemented a recycling initiative and stopped using neonicotinoids, among other inputs, to run a more environmentally friendly operation.

While Andy heads up Micandy’s growing division as Head Grower and Micki works as Vice President of Production, their daughter Marcelyn Buist-Byl serves as President of the operation and as a shared owner. Marcelyn says her interest in horticulture came naturally because enjoying flowers and the beauty of nature was a way of life growing up. She remembers doing various jobs around the greenhouses as a child and working in the family vegetable garden.

“It was part of who we were,” she says. “I remember a large banner hanging in the greenhouses that said ‘Plant flowers. Don’t pollute.’ What that meant to me growing up was to enjoy the beauty around you and to take care of the earth. Both of those things go hand in hand. That was the way we lived, and it is incorporated still today in how we operate the greenhouses.”

By the time Marcelyn took over as President, she had plenty of experience in all aspects of the family business. She started doing payroll at a very young age. Once she mastered payroll, she learned how to do accounts payable, and after that, she took on the challenge of bringing the business into the computer age. Next, it was attending sales meetings, meeting with breeders, and so on. She says there was always something new and exciting to learn, and she still enjoys that part of the business today.

Seasonal Employees at Micandy Gardens
Seasonal employees who return year after year have contributed to Micandy’s success with expertise gained both inside and outside of the operation.

A Strong Seasonal Labor Force Furthers Success

As President, Marcelyn takes charge of coordinating the efforts of the 150 people Micandy employs during its busy season. Several of these employees are seasonal workers who return year after year, because the Buist family treats them so well. Micandy pays time and a half after 40 hours, among other things, and employees share in potlucks and cookouts to celebrate various occasions of life. The return of seasonal employees each year is one thing Marcelyn attributes to Micandy’s success. Seasonal employees who come back build upon their experiences year after year and establish valuable, long-term customer relationships. Along with providing a steady labor pool and consistency in operations, returning employees share what they have learned at other jobs, which benefits the entire operation.

“Many of our seasonal employees have their own seasonal rotation at other businesses,” Marcelyn says. “Although those businesses have a different focus, employees working there might see something that is more efficient and implement those processes when they come back to work at Micandy. Our employees want to be successful themselves, by contributing to the success of the operation.”

Team Empowerment Springs from Recognizing Contributions

With employees coming and going, it can be a challenge to keep everyone focused on the same objective. Micandy’s management team has a way of encouraging employee buy-in on company goals and initiatives, which is the reason Greenhouse Grower awarded Micandy with its Excellence in Team Empowerment award, in addition to the overall Operation of the Year distinction.

The Buist family says it firmly believes that every employee is important and that all have something to contribute. They instill confidence in the team by maintaining a positive attitude toward them, encouraging team members to be responsible for themselves, and helping them feel good about the tasks they are performing.

“Some of our employees have certain gifts that can benefit our operation. We try to incorporate those gifts wherever we can,” Micki says. “For example, we have a couple of women who are great designers, so we put them in charge of creating combination containers.”

Micandy’s staff meets regularly to keep everyone working toward a common goal. More often than not, however, Marcelyn says it’s the one-on-one or small group conversations that lay the groundwork for working through any challenges that arise, and coming up with different scenarios and ideas that work for everyone.

“You can tell when someone is frustrated with something they are dealing with and doesn’t exactly know how to continue,” she says. “That often leads to a conversation, and that conversation might lead to an impromptu meeting with certain people who might have an impact on the discussion. Our team members’ contributions aren’t a one-time event; they’re constant, which allows everyone to keep learning and solving problems together.”

Micandy also keeps its team on a path of continual learning, by urging them to visit field trials nearby, browse through trade periodicals, and trial the plants they are growing in their own gardens, as well as take advantage of educational opportunities offered through Michigan State University Extension and the local Michigan Plant Growers Cooperative.

An Empowered Team is a Solution-Oriented Team

All of this team empowerment leads to one thing — an experienced team that confidently comes up with solutions for customers and meets product challenges when it really counts, exceeding expectations in the process and consistently producing a high-quality product. A comment made by Micki and Andy’s son and Advisory Board Member Randy Buist, in a video posted on the company website, sums up the 2017 Operation of the Year’s attitude nicely.

“Businesses like to talk about profit, but for us it is about culture,” Randy says. “It is about caring for our employees and our customers, and being proud of having an amazing product.”

Beauty on the Homefront

The team at Micandy Gardens Greenhouses is constantly seeking out new opportunities — some for growth and others for learning. It recently had the chance to share the joy of plants by adding beauty close to home in Grand Rapids, MI. Micandy worked with the city to develop four seasonal combinations to switch up the various municipal planters throughout the year. The project also includes several in-ground plantings.

“We love the city of Grand Rapids, so it has been exciting and rewarding for us to work on this project and envision how we could make a difference in this vastly diverse and growing city in our community,” says Micki Buist, Vice President of Production and shared owner of Micandy Greenhouses. “This is a new venture for us, but with talented and creative employees leading the way, we look forward to making our personal mark on the city and bringing beauty to those who travel its streets each day.”

Topics: , , ,

Leave a Reply

One comment on “Team Empowerment Pays Off at Micandy Gardens Greenhouses

More From Management...
Tax-Money

January 23, 2018

Learn How the New Tax Law Will Affect Your Greenhouse Business

AmericanHort will co-host a free “Comprehending the New Tax Law: webinar on Wednesday, Jan. 31, with K-Coe Isom, a national tax consulting leader.

Read More
Company-Culture-at-AgBiome

January 22, 2018

Four Ways to Attract Employees With a New Approach to Company Culture

AgBiome is a participative, self-managed organization where no one has a boss. Instead, employees self-assemble as teams around organizational issues that need to be tackled, and internal experts help drive important decisions.

Read More
National-Floriculture-Forum-photo

January 21, 2018

2018 National Floriculture Forum Heads to Florida

The event takes place March 2-4, and will feature tours of local floriculture operations, as well as discussions from industry leaders.

Read More
Latest Stories
Tax-Money

January 23, 2018

Learn How the New Tax Law Will Affect Your Greenhouse B…

AmericanHort will co-host a free “Comprehending the New Tax Law: webinar on Wednesday, Jan. 31, with K-Coe Isom, a national tax consulting leader.

Read More
Company-Culture-at-AgBiome

January 22, 2018

Four Ways to Attract Employees With a New Approach to C…

AgBiome is a participative, self-managed organization where no one has a boss. Instead, employees self-assemble as teams around organizational issues that need to be tackled, and internal experts help drive important decisions.

Read More
National-Floriculture-Forum-photo

January 21, 2018

2018 National Floriculture Forum Heads to Florida

The event takes place March 2-4, and will feature tours of local floriculture operations, as well as discussions from industry leaders.

Read More
Laura Drotleff

January 19, 2018

Greenhouse Industry’s Positive Momentum Looks Like it W…

Results from Greenhouse Grower's 2018 State of the Industry survey show that growers increased profits in 2017 by raising prices and paying more attention to their operational costs.

Read More
Max-Luthy-TPIE-keynote

January 18, 2018

TPIE Keynote Maxwell Luthy Turns Trends Into Opportunit…

Maxwell Luthy, Director of Trends & Insights for TrendWatching, showed how to turn trends into business prospects for attendees of the 2018 Tropical Plant International Expo keynote address.

Read More

January 16, 2018

AmericanHort Partnering with MPS on Sustainability Cert…

The alliance with MPS is designed to promote and expand best practices in the area of environmental sustainability, enabling the entire industry to perform better.

Read More
Thomas-Hermes

January 15, 2018

Thomas Hermes, Owner of Hermes Floral Company, Dies at …

Thomas J. Hermes, who owned and operated Hermes Floral Company in St. Paul and Becker, MN, with his brothers before retiring in 1998, died on January 5 at age 75.

Read More

January 15, 2018

Missouri Greenhouse Grower John Tomasovic Dies

The patriarch of Tomasovic Greenhouses & Nursery, Inc. in Des Peres, MO, was a legend in the plant industry, and widely involved in many associations.

Read More

January 15, 2018

Perennials Icon Louis Stacy Dies

The founder of the former Stacy's Greenhouses in York, SC, passed away on Wednesday, January 10, 2018.

Read More
Charlie Hall Feature Image

January 9, 2018

AmericanHort Launches New Video Series on Profit Margin…

This week, AmericanHort is kicking off a four-part video series that offers perspectives on managing profit margins from AmericanHort’s Chief Economist, Dr. Charlie Hall.

Read More
Tax-Money

January 9, 2018

What You Need to Know About the New Tax Bill

The United Fresh Produce Association, which represents the needs and interests of fruit and vegetable growers, recently updated its members on how the recent passage of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act might affect their businesses. Many of the insights provided by United Fresh also apply to greenhouse growers and nurseries.

Read More
Plants-and-Money

January 5, 2018

State of the Greenhouse Industry: Dealing With Your Ban…

Financial institutions are still reluctant to part with capital for agricultural and horticultural growth, despite economic indicators. Here’s why banks have raised the bar on lending.

Read More
Doug Cole, Owner of D.S. Cole Growers

January 4, 2018

D.S. Cole Growers Blazes Its Own Path to Growth

Known for its commitment to sustainability and innovation, this grower is one of the pioneering trailblazers changing the way horticulture does business.

Read More

December 31, 2017

Ag Exemption for New Trucking Regulation Still Under Re…

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s trucking electronic logging device mandate, which took effect on December 18, includes an Hours of Service exemption that may or may not apply to greenhouses and nurseries.

Read More
Nathan-Nordstedt-HRI-Champion-Scholarship

December 30, 2017

Horticultural Research Institute’s Latest Scholarship W…

Nathan Nordstedt credits his background in the industry for giving him an appreciation for the challenges within horticulture as well as leading him to keep the industry at the forefront of his career objectives.

Read More
Capitol-Building

December 28, 2017

State of the Greenhouse Industry: Regulatory Uncertaint…

With election dynamics, a new farm bill, and pending immigration reform in the mix, 2018 looks to be a wait-and-see year for the horticulture industry.

Read More
CareerUp

December 27, 2017

How CareerUp Helps Young Professionals Level-Up

The mission of CareerUp is to equip young professionals with the skills to maximize their career potential.

Read More
Hydrangea 'Berry White' (Bailey Nurseries)

December 27, 2017

Headlines That Continue to Resonate with Greenhouse Gro…

During the last 12 months, there has been plenty to talk about regarding the floriculture industry. Along the way, Greenhouse Growers editors and contributors have crafted and published hundreds articles covering breaking news, news analysis, production and business management tips, industry profiles, and more.

Read More