May 29, 2009

Acrylic Covering Offers Savings

Acrylite Deglas acrylic sheets from New Jersey-based Evonik Cyro LLC help reduce energy consumption and cost. “We aren’t just paying lip service here, we intend to show that our high-tech material enables users throughout the continent to take cost-effective and environmentally conscious action,” says Stephen Costanzo, general manager of Evonik Cyro’s acrylic sheet business line. Acrylite Deglas double-skinned acrylic sheets reduce energy consumption in greenhouses with their favorable heat insulation, and therefore automatically cut an operator’s carbon dioxide emissions. Growers can make an active contribution to climate protection and reduce their monthly overheads at the same time. “Saving energy means cutting costs and carbon dioxide,” says Michael Ehmann, North American Acrylite Deglas manager. “Greenhouses represent a major long-term investment. By planning with foresight and using Acrylite Deglas sheet products, these potential savings can be secured for decades. That is an ideal combination.” Evonik Cyro is building an energy savings campaign […]

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May 27, 2009

Svensson Cloth Effective On Mums

Obscura W/W, a multilayer structure of white/black/white films with black yarn, creates a highly reflective, porous surface with very low light transmission that shortens days for garden mums. To force garden mums with the seven weeks of short days (13 hours of night) they need, Obscura W/W solves many challenges, including high night temperatures and interrupted darkness. Unlike black plastic film, Obscura W/W doesn’t collect rainwater and crush plants. It won’t absorb heat and humidity, either, and it’s lightweight and easy to handle. “Obscura W/W is the better way to force garden mums,” says Kurt Parbst, president of Svensson’s North and South American subsidiary. “Getting mums to market faster certainly increases growers’ chances of earning higher prices.” Obscura W/W allows less than 0.5 percent light transmission and is made with a porous yarn structure built to release rainwater and excess humidity. Its superior reflective surface greatly reduces heat buildup and […]

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May 26, 2009

Online Only: Web Savvy Resources

Growers looking to build new structures now have a plethora of resources at their fingertips. Some of the leading structures companies have revamped their websites with tools to make structure shopping a breeze. Rough Brothers, for example, recently enhanced its website with an “Ask Our Experts” forum. Here, customers have the opportunity to ask any questions they might have about structures and related equipment. Questions can be about anything from design and construction to operation and maintenance. Visitors to the website also have the option of browsing questions that have already been asked and posting responses. In addition, an online parts catalog is included on the website. It features some of the most popular components and equipment, such as cutain systems, cooling and ventilation, glazing and lighting, among others. “We are trying to make our website more of a tool for growers,” says Bill Vietas, commercial division manager for Rough […]

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May 26, 2009

Reconfiguring Facilities For Retail

If you’ve heard marketing consultant Judy Sharpton speak, you know she’s a proponent of Paco Underhill’s book, “Why We Buy,” and a stickler against the butt brush, an Underhill theory in which customers “brush butts” as they pass because aisles and spaces are too narrow to navigate otherwise. Sound like a problem you’ve encountered at a garden center, perhaps even a dilemma you face at your own if you’re a grower-retailer? Now is the time to recognize the problem and consider alternatives to fix it. Let’s start with an analysis of bench layouts and basic ways you can convert commercial greenhouses into customer-friendly areas for retail. Sacrificing Space For starters, growers must realize greenhouse production area is different than retail area for product. Retail space should be more open than production space, particularly at the heart of spring when customers intend to load multiple products onto carts. If a grower’s retail […]

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May 26, 2009

Online Only: Warschauer’s Conversion Tips

Jeff Warschauer, vice president of sales for Nexus Corp., lists factors growers should consider before converting production space to retail. 1. Availability. Analyze the space you have to use for retail and when you can have access to that space, particularly if you are going from winter growing space to retail space in April. 2. Parking. How many cars you can park is an important factor in the retail design. There’s no use investing in 30,000 square feet of retail upgrades and new benches when parking is far away and only 20 cars can be parked. Design ratios are very important. 3. Retail product. What will you be retailing? The answer may help you decide which benches and displays you’ll need and the best location. 4. Benching. Enclosed greenhouse space, canopy and covered walk space may all use different bench layouts. 5. Shade. You’ll need shade area if you plan […]

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May 13, 2009

Online Only: Have A Plan Before You Expand

With interest rates so low, could now be a good time for growers to reinvest in their businesses or even expand, if market growth supports it and they have strong banking relationships? We asked Charlie Hall, an economist who holds the Ellison Chair in International Floriculture at Texas A&M University, for his take on the situation. Is there opportunity in a down economy? He says expansion can be feasible if it’s done for strategic purposes. “In a recent webinar and my presentation at ANLA’s Management Clinic about surviving the economic downturn, I said the number one action point is conserving cash,” Hall says. “Expansion is not conserving cash. It’s not the time to get bigger for bigger’s sake, but if you have a clear strategy in mind and a firm idea the market can support, expansion can be feasible.” Before moving into a new trade area, growers need to ask […]

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May 12, 2009

Slideshow: Plant Marketing L.L.C.

Plant Marketing, a Top 100 growing operation based in Eau Claire, Wisc., completed a 226,800 square foot expansion project in two months. Here’s a look at the project from start to finish, from mid-October 2008 to the first week of January.

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May 12, 2009

Build Now?

In a year when everyone is hunkering down, some growers are seizing opportunities and using the economy to their advantage. “In this down economy, there are a lot of opportunities for growers to save money when building,” says Gordon Van Egmond, U.S. sales representative for Westbrook Greenhouses in Canada. “Trades people are easier to come by and the pricing is usually more attractive. Keep in mind growers are expanding for tomorrow, not today.” Low interest rates and incentives make the opportunity hard to pass up, says Jeff Warschauer, vice president of sales for Nexus Corp. “So many of our Nexus customers tell us that if they had to choose between investing in the stock market or the family business, hands down they would invest in the family business!” Warschauer says. “At least they have control of financial decisions. Coupled with new tax incentives, potential grants and interest rates at an […]

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May 12, 2009

New Greenhouse Structures And Coverings

Nexus Corporation The Nexus Zephyr will help you optimize the ability to hold outside ambient temperature in the greenhouse without use of mechanical cooling. Combining the latest Zephyr atrium vent and side/end-wall vents eliminates the need for fans and reduces electrical costs. CO-EX Corporation Recently introduced, the Click 16 is ideal for glazing and roofing and the four-wall construction of Click 16 is thermally efficient, and saves on heating and cooling costs. The four walls also add to the strength of the sheet, yet offer high light transmission. Click 16 is opaque to UV rays. Polygal The new Polyheilos polyethylene greenhouse covering is a multi-layer film technology with selected additives, which provides the right combination of strength, versatility and light transmission. The film has unique mechanical-optical and thermal characteristics to ensure greater durability. Amerilux International The Lexan Softlite Thermoclear Plus multiwall sheet and the Lexan Softlite Corrugated polycarbonate sheets offer […]

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May 12, 2009

Greenhouse Films: Stretching It

While polyethylene film may last a lifetime in the landfill, the time it spends housing your plants isn’t nearly as impressive. Traditionally, most long-life greenhouse films are guaranteed for four years. “What growers are trying to do is stretch it,” says Nick Calabro, Northeast regional sales manager for Klerks Hyplast, Inc. “Growers are going an additional year, getting five or six years with the film before replacing it.” At What Cost? It’s important to remember a few things if you decide to go this cost-effective route. One, dirt build up can be detrimental. Each year the film is on the structure, it can lose up to 2 percent of its light transmission. For those growers utilizing a top layer and an interior layer to improve heat retention, Calabro says four surfaces are now susceptible to dirt. This build up can be a result of a number of things: pesticides, exhaust, […]

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May 12, 2009

Online Only: The Next Step In Greenhouse Films

Greenhouse film doesn’t last forever. Well, maybe in landfills, but it definitely doesn’t last that long on your greenhouses. Just think about it. If you don’t recycle that film, it’s going to sit in a landfill somewhere, taking up space. The thought of going that route sends chills up Karen Kritz’s spine. Kritz heads up the plastic recycling program for the New Jersey Department of Agriculture. She created the program back in the mid-90s when then N.J. Secretary of Agriculture, Arthur Brown, urged Kritz to do something about the large volume of greenhouse film piling up in the Garden State’s landfills. Kritz used Oregon and Florida’s programs as a reference point. She saw that both programs had their own shortcomings, so she made the necessary adjustments for her burgeoning New Jersey operation. In 1997, the first greenhouse film collection took place. Now, “We average over a half-million pounds a year […]

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April 28, 2009

Plant Marketing LLC Has Expedited Expansion

Larry Reit’s advice for other growers looking to expand their operations is simple. “Get started as early as you can,” he says. If you can’t, follow Reit’s lead for expedited expansion. Reit, the owner of Plant Marketing L.L.C., embarked on a 226,800-square foot expansion project in Eau Clair, Wisc., with Nexus Corporation late last year. Reit bought land in September, broke ground on the project in mid-October and completed it the first week of January despite poor weather and a holiday schedule that pulled half the building crew away for two weeks. Teamwork kept the project on track, as did Reit’s will to complete the project on time. Reit even participated in the construction project himself. “He was so hands on, in fact, that one Sunday, he was 14 feet in the air on a forklift helping lift trusses into place,” says Al Sray, the Midwest sales manager for Nexus […]

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