Charting A New Course

For several years, we’ve been collectively lamenting that our industry has reached a mature stage. USDA numbers show production output and dollars per unit have been flatlining for some time. Although there are businesses that are growing and aggressively making strides, most of what is happening is growers taking market share in a game of winners and losers. The industry as a whole is not growing and that concerns us.

At some point, the economy will improve and lead to increased sales of plants and flowers. (I’ve heard we also have to ride out the population slump Generation X brings demographically, which is impacting all industries.) But we cannot afford to sit back and wait for things to improve, or worse, sit on our hands and watch our industry decline. We need to be proactive in identifying opportunities for our industry to grow.

That’s why we convened our first Grow Summit in late August to serve as a catalyst to create forward-looking dialogue to look at ways to increase demand and improve margins. We had great minds in the room – a good cross-section of growers, their suppliers, academia and the big three national association directors – OFA, American Nursery & Landscape Association and Society of American Florists.

We had frank discussions about what keeps us up at night and how the world and industry have changed. One fun exercise was  the “story of Merlin,” envisioning what the industry will look like in the year 2020 in terms of value and service, and how retail and the consumer’s experience will evolve. Then we reached a consensus on priorities and suggested action items.

Focusing on consumer success came out on top. This includes doing the necessary resarch to determine what matters to consumers, educating them to be successful and producing products that perform.

Another was creating demand by:
• Finding ways to get new customers.
• Establishing connections with and learning from other industries.
• Creating an industry marketing board to work on collective promotions.
• Marketing to real estate developers and urban planners to promote greening and beautification.

Others were on the business side – better business management, reducing shrink and pricing and selling on value. Another was to become more involved in regulatory and legislative issues and define sustainability before an outside group does it for us.

I’m really encouraged because we can point to efforts individuals, groups and corporations are already doing to advance these objectives. We don’t need to reinvent the wheel. For instance, the Institute for Floriculture Innovation Charles Kosmont proposes on page 22 is a great starting point for an industry marketing board. America In Bloom is the perfect segue into doing more with developers and city planners.

So what will all this mean to you as a reader of Greenhouse Grower? Everything we do will be filtered through a new lens with these priorities in mind. We’re going to be using all of our offerings as a platform to advance this industry growth initiative – in print, online and in person. When you see an article, it will be clear why it makes a difference for your business or how the topic relates to moving the industry forward. In all our content decisions, we will be asking ourselves, “How does this make a difference for growers and the industry as a whole?” – the “so what?” factor. This is something we’ve always done but in a less obvious and less focused way. Now we’re on a mission to drive these messages home.

As always, we’re going to support activities that benefit the industry. The Grow Summit laid the groundwork. We’re looking forward to converting this group’s ideas into action in the coming year.

Leave a Reply

Latest Stories
Overhead-irrigation-to-maintain-moisture-content-feature

December 10, 2017

Greens Production Goes High-Tech at lēf Farms

A Finland-based company has developed two new automatic growing systems for lettuce heads and baby leaf lettuce. Learn how one grower is making it work for them.

Read More
California Wildfires

December 9, 2017

Southern California’s Wildfires Endanger Greenhouse and…

Here’s an update on horticulture businesses in the areas affected by the California wildfires.

Read More
Monitoring the plant canopy for temperature

December 9, 2017

Infrared Thermometers for Monitoring Plant and Substra…

Growers use many tools to monitor the greenhouse environment. Learn about the best practices for using an infrared thermometer to measuring plant temperature.

Read More
Weigela Czechmark (Spring Meadow Nursery)

December 8, 2017

Spring Meadow’s New Logo Highlights Focus on New, Color…

In a move that highlights its commitment to developing new, colorful flowering shrubs, Spring Meadow Nursery has unveiled a new logo.

Read More
HortScholars

December 8, 2017

HortScholars Program Now Accepting Applications for 201…

Do you know any college students currently in a horticulture-related program? This unique program gives them a chance to connect with industry leaders and make new connections at Cultivate.

Read More
Peat vacuum harvester

December 8, 2017

The Sustainability of the Peat Industry Looks Better T…

Despite talk about alternative products and differences of opinion over its sustainability as a resource, peat is here to stay.

Read More
SunStanding-New-Guinea-Impatiens-Dummen-Orange-feature

December 7, 2017

Growing Tips From a Pro for SunStanding New Guinea Impa…

SunStanding New Guinea impatiens hybrids spruce up the landscape with vibrant blooms that explode with color in both sun and shade areas, and they hold up well in heat and humidity.

Read More
Japan-Airlines-princettia

December 7, 2017

Suntory Pairs Princettia with Several Breast Cancer Awa…

Suntory Flowers is partnering with several major brands to support breast cancer awareness and fundraising, using its bright-pink Princettia euphorbias as the ideal plant for Pink Ribbon promotions.

Read More

December 7, 2017

For the Record: Differing Opinions Are Healthy

With all of the changes happening in our industry, differing opinions are healthy. Let's open up the dialog and keep it real.

Read More
mycoapply-from-mycorrhizal-applications-feature

December 6, 2017

How Mycorrhizae Provide Value at Your Greenhouse or Nur…

Mycorrhizae create a connection between the roots of a plant and the surrounding growing media. This ultimately leads to better crop health through enhanced nutrient and water uptake.

Read More
Kellee O'Reilly

December 5, 2017

We Are Not Immune: An Open Letter to the Green Industry…

We’re an industry rooted in family values, farming, agriculture, passion for nature, and faith. We are also an industry made up predominantly of men in positions of leadership. During an interesting watershed moment that is happening culturally at present, it's important for the green industry to address its own issues.

Read More
GROW-Summit-2017-Group-Photo

December 5, 2017

GROW Summit 2017 Tackles Marketing and Business Managem…

This year’s think-tank style event brought together leaders from across the green industry to deliberate on topics such as disruptive marketing, cost accounting, and Millennials, to name a few.

Read More

December 5, 2017

Skagit Horticulture Builds New, Inclusive Business With…

By merging two large-scale producers, Skagit Gardens and Northwest Horticulture, the new company has realized its strengths through focused divisions that emphasize efficiency and success.

Read More
Young-Grower

December 4, 2017

New Report Shows Older Growers Outnumber Younger Grower…

A survey conducted earlier this year by the National Young Farmers Coalition highlights the far-reaching set of challenges faced by today’s young growers, including rising debt and a struggle to find quality employees.

Read More

December 4, 2017

Raker-Roberta’s Young Plants Debuts as Roberta’s Finali…

On December 1, Eric Wallien of Roberta’s Inc. in Waldron, IN, officially purchased C. Raker & Sons in Litchfield, MI. The new identity of the company is now Raker-Roberta’s Young Plants, according to a Dec. 1 letter to Raker’s customers, suppliers, and business partners from Vice President Susie Raker-Zimmerman. “There have been minimal changes in management and we will be providing the same products and services on which we have built our reputation in the industry,” Raker-Zimmerman said in the letter, which also announced the name change and new logo. The sale of C. Raker & Sons was announced in September . A series of events affecting Raker’s financial situation caused the need for the operation to find an alternate solution. Roberta’s had been a customer of Raker’s since 2011, and the fourth generation, family owned grower-retailer was a fan of Raker’s commitment to quality. The agreement to purchase C. […]

Read More
Low-Cost-Build-Your-Own-Irrigation-Sensors-feature

December 4, 2017

Nine Things You Need to Know About Irrigation Sensors

Knowing the amount of water in your soil can help you better manage irrigation, leading to water savings and a stronger bottom line.

Read More
Brandon-Coker-and-John-Ruter-University-of-Georgia

December 3, 2017

Great Plants for 2018 That Stand Up to Heat and Humidit…

In his latest column, Allan Armitage credits trial managers at the University of Georgia, who have come up with an extensive list of plants that continually outperform others throughout the season.

Read More
Hanging-Basket-Watering-System-WaterPulse-feature

December 2, 2017

15 Tools That Can Help You Maximize Water Quality and E…

New advancements in water management and irrigation are making it easier for you to manage your water use. Here’s a look at some of the latest offerings from leading suppliers, and how you can best incorporate them into your greenhouse.

Read More