Eduard Van Wingerden, CEO of Ever-Bloom Inc. in Carpinteria, CA, had one simple response to new laws in California that expand overtime rules while eventually pushing minimum wage to $15 per hour.
“We either automate or disintegrate.”
Van Wingerden says his company was already committed to automating its facility prior to the overtime law going into effect. The passing of the bill will now push Ever-Bloom to move even faster to accomplish these changes, he says.
“We purchased a pipe-rail growing system, that will make all manual spraying obsolete, and a robot that will spray all of our greenhouses. The pipe rail system also allows for harvesting carts, planting carts, and maintenance equipment to more effectively and efficiently do the day-to-day jobs. We will also purchase automated packing equipment that will eliminate about eight of our current 20 packers. We expect the return on investment to be right around five years.”
Ever-Bloom also made changes in how its greenhouses are laid out.
“We’ve made our bed length twice as long and have just one pathway in the greenhouse instead of two,” says Eduard’s son, Ivan Van Wingerden.
“Pairing automation with simplicity seems to be the magic combination that we were slow to learn.”