Setting The Standard

Setting The Standard

Throughout most of the last century, most greenhouses were wooden structures with small glass panes that transmitted light poorly. Crop turns were down compared to today’s standards because sunlight didn’t reflect as well, and structure rot and wear was a legitimate concern because most greenhouses had wood frames.

Such is not the case today. Greenhouses got a makeover in the early 1980s, partly because home improvement and mass merchandiser chains saw the potential in selling plants. Plant selection wasn’t superb then, but availability was good. And consumers now had more garden centers to choose their plants from.

Because of the explosion in live plant production, growers needed bigger, more efficient facilities to accommodate the needs of a market gone wild. Growers went from glass to acrylic or plastic for their coverings, and they chose steel as their infrastructures material rather than wood.

Among the first companies to realize the potential of steel in the greenhouse structures market was Allied Tube & Conduit, a company based in Harvey, Ill., that partnered with structures companies 20-plus years ago and has since developed multiple products that serve as the nuts and bolts of greenhouses today. In fact, if you’ve built a steel greenhouse in the last 20 years, the infrastructure probably derives from Allied.

“You go back 20 years, and a lot of structures were heavier wall tubes and hot-dipped galvanized,” says Dan Kuzniewski, global marketing director of Allied’s mechanical group. “Times have really changed, taking century-old processes of coating structures to different engineered looks. And that’s where we made our appearance in the industry.”

The Wheels In Motion

Allied Tube is actually broken down into four divisions: electrical conduit, fire protection, fence security and the mechanical tube business, which serves greenhouse structures companies. Ed Kurasz, vice president of the company’s mechanical group, says the company generated about $2.3 billion in revenue last year. The mechanical tube division generated about $1 billion alone in large part because of its relationship with our industry.

“Over the years, growers have been trying to design fully engineered greenhouses to handle all the environmental issues,” Kurasz says. “Each greenhouse manufacturer has a style or a few styles they build. They use standard products within their company, which become standard for us.”

As requirements and environments change, Allied works with engineers from the greenhouse structures companies it serves to meet grower needs. Typically, if growers pose structures questions to Allied, it redirects those questions to the structures companies before both engineering parties get together to search for new solutions.

“By working with our customers,” Kurasz says, “we can work diligently to strengthen a product, make it lighter or design it to a customer’s needs. We want to make greenhouse manufacturers very effective when it comes to combatting imports or standard designs that have not changed over the last 20 years.”

Twenty years ago, Kurasz says greenhouses and other structures were designed heavily around water pipe, which is inefficient because it’s made from lower-cost steels. Water pipe is also limited in shape and size, he says, but Allied gives the greenhouse structures companies it serves an assortment of options and looks. Allied also developed Gatorshield, its bread-and-butter product that prevents corrosion and extends the life of tubular steel.

About Allied Tube

Allied Tube & Conduit serves a variety of industries with products that have set standards for others to follow. Besides manufacturing steel products for greenhouse structures companies, Allied serves companies that design community playground structures, conveyor systems in distribution facilities like those of FedEx or UPS and various agricultural products. It serves about 50 different industries in all.

For more information on Allied Tube & Conduit, visit

In all, Allied produces more than 50 ODs (outside diameters). It manufactures parts as rounds, squares or rectangles, and if customers are interested in new designs that don’t meet their requirements, Allied can add a size to its portfolio to help them design their system.

“Everything we do in size has grown exponentially over 20 years as we’ve worked developing marketplaces,” Kuzniewski says. “We’ve added different wall thicknesses, different OD combinations and we have the willingness to expand our capabilities to match up with the demand of the market.

State Of The Market

Over the last few years, and especially late last year, raw material prices and a lack of financing has hindered market opportunity for greenhouse structures companies and their suppliers. Kurasz says he’s seen raw material prices double, and prices hit a historic high in the months of October, November and December last year.

“From a grower’s perspective, a greenhouse may double in price because of the raw material impact,” he says. “What they’ll do is delay their improvement. If they were going to add on, they’ll delay it until the raw material prices drop and financing is available again. It’s been a dramatic impact for everybody involved in the greenhouse industry.”

Because raw material prices are higher, Kurasz says growers are probably looking at lesser quality products as a temporary fix.

“Sadly those are the greenhouses that will fail,” he says. “It’s a short term thinking because the money in the crop is at risk versus the structure itself.”

Leave a Reply

More From Greenhouses...
Lavandula 'Meerlo' (Sunset Western Garden Collection)

March 3, 2015

Why You Will Still Grow Today’s Big Perennial 10 Years From Now

What will be the next big perennial? Breeders say it takes more than a splashy plant to distinguish itself in the market. Therefore, the question is not what will be the next big perennial, but rather what perennial performs well enough in the garden to have staying power in the market for years to come.

Read More

March 2, 2015

Avoid Surprises On The Delivery Dock

A call in advance about problems with a plant shipment to a retailer you supply goes a long way toward customer satisfaction.

Read More
Janeen Wright

March 2, 2015

Deliver Plant Quality That Trumps Price [Opinion]

The industry's goal is to have loyal customers who return to the same plants time and time again, not because of price, but owing to a plant brand that shouts top-notch garden performance and is synonymous with excellence, which gives them the secure knowledge that their investment will be worth every hard-earned cent.

Read More
Latest Stories
Rough Brothers aeroponic greenhouse project

February 24, 2015

Rough Brothers Takes A Hands-On Approach To Several Pro…

Two projects Rough Brothers worked on for Altman plants in Giddings, Texas, and Scissortail Farms in Tulsa County, Okla., show that pre-planning on the grower's part opens the way for a smooth-running expansion project.

Read More
Stuppy Greenhouse Manufacturing's Rainbow Super Structure

February 23, 2015

Stuppy Greenhouse Manufacturing Says Every Customer’s G…

Well-suited greenhouses that function efficiently for customers arise from involving them in the design process from start to finish. Stuppy Greenhouse Manufacturing put this philosophy on a greenhouse design for a wholesale grower looking to expand his annuals operation. The grower's needs were simple, yet daunting: design a greenhouse that delivers the perfect growing environment, but keep maintenance and operating costs low.

Read More
National Greenhouse Manufacturers Association

January 27, 2015

Stricter Energy Codes May Impact Your Ability To Expand

Are you aware stricter energy codes may be on the horizon that will certainly impact your business in a big way? Here's a Q & A from the National Greenhouse Manufacturers Association that helps explain the dangers of the coming energy codes and what we as an industry can do to prevent them.

Read More

January 27, 2015

10 Questions To Ask Before Purchasing A Greenhouse Cove…

Whether you’re replacing an existing greenhouse covering or building a new greenhouse, it’s a significant investment, so you need to make sure you have the right type of covering to suit your needs and budget. What’s more, with production costs on the rise, you can’t afford to have anything less than a durable, high-quality covering that is energy efficient. To make a smart purchase, do your homework before you buy. A good place to start is by answering the following questions, which will help you separate the good products from the mediocre ones.

Read More

January 26, 2015

Greenhouse Growers Look To Build And Retrofit In 2015

You’re likely to see more construction work going on in the greenhouse industry in 2015, according to Greenhouse Grower’s 2015 State of the Industry survey. Responses show growers have high hopes for the future, which may be one reason why more of them are looking to spruce up their facilities.

Read More
Griffin Logo

November 10, 2014

Griffin Announces Dates For 2015 Grower And Retailer Ex…

Griffin Grower and Retailer Expo 2015 dates set for Massachusetts and Pennsylvania.

Read More

September 30, 2014

Emerald Coast Growers Adds Greenhouse Space To Increase…

Emerald Coast Growers has expanded with the addition of 25,344 square feet at their Milton, Fla., facility. The construction is in response to increased demand for their products, and will primarily be used for ornamental grass production.

Read More

June 6, 2014

High Tunnels: Reduce Heating Costs While Improving Bedd…

This is the first article in a two-part series featuring research from Purdue University that focuses on energy-efficient production of cold-tolerant bedding plants.

Read More

May 27, 2014

4 Ways To Finance Your Greenhouse Upgrade

If you’re ready to invest in greenhouse energy-efficient upgrades but aren’t sure how to finance them, there are a number of resources that can help.

Read More

May 22, 2014

Structures Issue: Growers Evolve With New Growth And Ma…

Is our industry really improving or does it just look that way? With growth in the past two years among Greenhouse Grower’s Top 100 Growers and the housing market on the upswing, the economy certainly is showing signs of life.

Read More

May 21, 2014

Lucas Greenhouses Gets A Jump On Spring Crops With Its …

A retractable roof greenhouse enables Lucas Greenhouses to start and finish part of its spring crop earlier and provides a superior production environment into the fall.

Read More

May 2, 2014

High Tunnels Help To Expand Markets, Crops

Growers are taking advantage of the USDA-Natural Resources Conservation Service’s Seasonal High Tunnel Initiative to extend the production season for a variety of crops.

Read More

April 24, 2014

9 High Tunnel And Shade Products For Your Operation

Extend the growing season and enhance plant quality with these nine high tunnel and shade products.

Read More
National Greenhouse Manufacturers Association

March 21, 2014

Greenhouse Heating Basics From The National Greenhouse …

Here's a Q&A from the National Greenhouse Manufacturers Association that might help you improve your greenhouse.

Read More
Greenhouse interior At Corsos

March 18, 2014

Will Greenhouses Add Production Space In 2014?

For those who are making changes this year, many responded that new production space will be used to extend their growing seasons, for early-season sales as well as edibles during the winter months.

Read More

February 25, 2014

Behind The New Greenhouse Projects At Van de Wetering A…

Read about the projects VB Greenhouses worked on at Van de Wetering Greenhouses and Kurtz Farms.

Read More

February 25, 2014

7 Spring Cleaning Tips For Commercial Greenhouses

During every busy shipping season you invariably run into issues that would have been eliminated had a little spring cleaning taken place. Here are a few points you may want to consider before spring shipping rolls around:

Read More

January 21, 2014

Exclusive: Danziger Is Building A State-Of-The-Art Stoc…

The breeder is constructing almost nine acres of state-of-the-art greenhouses near Barbarena, Guatemala, to bring its stock farm closer to the U.S. market. The first phase of construction was complete in February 2014.

Read More