Nexus Corp. has long had a reputation as serving the high end of the commercial greenhouse structures market for both growers and retailers. That description is expanding a bit with the introduction of the company’s new LINX Greenhouses division. LINX offers a new tier of structures to the Nexus offerings — a freestanding product line with an affordable mix of three gothic- and arch-profile structures.
Scott Thompson, a past NGMA President and active industry participant in sales, product development and customer service for more than 30 years, joined Nexus in August 2012 and brought his years of design and technology experience to help put together the LINX division and its products.
We talked with Thompson for his perspective on the new division and what he thinks LINX will bring to the grower market.
GG: How would you describe the LINX line of structures to a grower?
Thompson: What was critical in trying to make this all happen was basing everything with LINX around the standard Nexus has set over the years without taking away from the quality. We still needed to produce a product that meets the standard, “The strength of the industry.”
It’s a different type of product, but those same standards are going to be critical to our success. The core business of Nexus emphasized higher-end product applications. What we’re hoping to do with LINX is solidify the foundation of what is available under the Nexus umbrella; we will hit the Nexus standards, but with a different set of product lines.
These won’t only be freestanding applications. There will be gutter-connected applications as well. The LINX product line is for a grower or a retailer who needs space at a specific target price and the ability to enhance or upgrade it down the road. A LINX structure may have a few more limitations on coverings but enough variety to hit most customer requirements. If customers want something more than what we feel comfortable selling we would direct them to a Nexus product that better fits their needs.
GG: So this is a more affordable version that will allow you to work with people who would have liked to work with Nexus but couldn’t before?
Thompson: Right. I had a colleague who loved the phrase “Making technology affordable.” That’s what we’re doing here. It’s critical to the success of our industry. We want to help growers of any type who are looking to invest in their operations to make them more efficient and cost effective.
GG: These structures are still primarily for ornamental production, right?
Thompson: Most certainly. But one of the things the LINX product line is also developing is the ability to hit a lot of different market segments. We believe strongly we can start with a building that allows the customer to keep it very simple and go with a couple of different profiles and a wide variety of widths and lengths. If they want it to be a simple cover — a high tunnel — we can offer that. And we can enhance that same structure going forward to give them a much more controlled environment and set the pathway for controlled-environment agriculture. We can take a basic greenhouse range and cover it in a wide variety of ways. You can add equipment or just keep it as a cover. There are a lot of different applications for a building.
Our primary market will be ornamentals. But until the housing market turns around and we figure out this shift in who the consumer is and how all of that’s going to work with landscaping opportunities, we as greenhouse manufacturers have to look at other markets and other applications. Opportunities around controlled-environment agriculture are a significant part of where we’re going to focus our energies. These products will have multiple market applications. That’s what you want to try to do. Find something you know is going to work in a specific market and if you can find additional applications going forward, you certainly want to pursue those. If you don’t, someone else is going to.
GG: Will the supplemental equipment offerings be the same for LINX as with other Nexus structures?
Thompson: Yes, there will be a lot of similarities but also there will be the introduction of some new and different equipment that Nexus may not have sold before but I am familiar with. For example, probably the biggest thing will be natural ventilation applications and those being used with motor gear boxes in both direct drive and indirect drive applications. That is dramatic and somewhat new because it allows you to reduce not only your electrical consumption but also all of your wiring and electrical requirements up front because you have fewer motors. You’re using less electricity and becoming more efficient. That’s a product area I’m going to spend a lot of time on in the next 30 days.
GG: Nexus does retail applications as well as growing structures. Will the LINX structures be positioned for retail as well?
Thompson: I would be reluctant to say we’re going after the retail market with any LINX product, knowing the Nexus line covers those bases. The LINX product line will supplement those retailers who need seasonal space for green goods storage on a short-term basis or additional growing facilities to supply their retail store. That’s where we’ll fit in. It’s not set up to be a more permanent retail structure that you would have the public in. The LINX buildings are typically not going to be for public occupancy. Enhanced, you can do so, but the primary application is going to be for growers and growing.