Cultivating Common Ground

As an individual company or entrepreneur, there’s only so much you can do to lead industry-wide change, especially if you are on the service side, like horticultural distributors. A manufacturer can invent the new widget that supersedes all other widgets or build a better mousetrap. A breeder can introduce completely new varieties or reinvent a genus by breeding superior varieties. But if you’re the middleman and your business is distribution, what can you do to take the industry to the next level?

That’s what I was wondering when we first learned about Integrated Horticultural Alliance (IHA), an independent organization formed by three of the strongest regional distributors – BFG Supply Co. in the Midwest, Griffin Greenhouse and Nursery Supplies in the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic and BWI Companies in the South.

All three companies have strong heritages as family businesses serving growers and allied industry suppliers. Combined, they cover the more populated half of the United States. Their range of goods and services spans greenhouse structures, equipment, crop protection chemicals, fertilizer, pots, trays and growing media. All three provide technical expertise to assist growers with production practices and equipment recommendations.

When asked why the companies came together to form IHA, BWI’s Jim Bunch said they share an understanding that the challenges and opportunities they will face in the future are not individual encounters, but industry encounters. "Industry changes are becoming more frequent and appear to be accelerating and one of the best methods to alter change in a positive way is to be proactive," Bunch says. "IHA understands that working together will not only benefit our three companies, but could greatly improve the overall horticultural supply chain."

Rob Glockner from BFG adds, "We felt we limit our opportunities by just focusing within our own four walls. By aligning our vision with our key vendors and growers, together we have much more influence than by working separately, and we increase the likelihood of implementing better improvements faster."

So what are they going to set out to do?

As we were going to press, they were in the process of hiring a full-time director to keep the alliance’s initiatives on track. As soon as the busy season is over, IHA will be seeking grower input through a questionnaire and engaging them directly to identify the most critical needs to address. This research also will be used to determine customer service measurements and goals.

The ultimate objective is to provide a better service at a lower cost. While the live goods side of our industry in plugs, liners and cuttings has done a good job with e-commerce, delivering real-time availability and access to order histories, the hardgoods side has lagged behind. "It doesn’t sound like a lot, but it’s tremendous if we can improve our fill rate and make the product acquisition process more timely and eliminate the mistakes that happen out there," says Griffin’s Craig Hyslip.

Technology also can be used to create uniform processes, standards and transparency on the vendor side that will save time and lead to more accurate inventory forecasting. One idea is to develop an intranet that will house all vendor product information and be accessible to all IHA sales representatives instead of searching 20 Web sites for the information. IHA also plans to work with growers and vendors to define best practices.

Whatever IHA implements must work for all three segments, Hyslip says. "If only two out of three win, it’s a losing proposition. If it works for growers and the vendors, then it will definitely work for us."

Leave a Reply

Latest Stories

February 10, 2016

Poinsettia Production On The Decline

Poinsettia production is on the decline in several of the top 15 poinsettia-producing states.

Read More
GrowIt! Logo

February 9, 2016

GrowIt! And MasterTag Partner To Enhance Plant Care Inf…

The partnership allows MasterTag to provide plant care instructions to the wide catalog of plants available on GrowIt!, which helps consumers find plants in their area.

Read More
Wally and Delores Steinhauser FEATURE

February 9, 2016

To Reflect Changes In Customer Buying, Wingard’s …

Owner Wally Steinhauser explains why he decided to re-brand his store and how his customers' lifestyles changed what type of products they wanted to buy.

Read More
Heather combo with a birds nest at Minter Country Gardens

February 8, 2016

Winter Combo Garden Ideas From Minter Country Gardens […

On a recent visit to Minter Country Gardens outside of Vancouver, British Columbia, we spied several combo gardens filled with cool-weather plants with a strong winter appeal.

Read More
Bob's Garden Center roadside sign

February 8, 2016

Roadside Signs: Research Shows What Works Best

If zoning laws for roadside signs seem random to you, there’s a fair chance you’re right. Until 2011, zoning boards did not have solid research to rely on when developing their rules. That has finally changed, thanks to a report from USSC Foundation.

Read More
Pot Mum Combos (Syngenta Flowers)

February 8, 2016

Syngenta Has A New Buyer, Will Not Divest Flower Seeds …

Syngenta has announced that it will likely approve an offer from ChemChina to acquire the company, which means it no longer plans to divest its flower seed business.

Read More
Suzanne Wainwright-Evans

February 8, 2016

Register Now For Biocontrols USA 2016 Workshop

Biocontrol is becoming a mainstream part of growing plants commercially. Every good program starts with quality products and a good supply chain. Register now to join us from 1:00-4:00 p.m. on March 4, following the conclusion of the education program at the Biocontrols USA 2016 Conference & Expo in Monterey, CA for a special event that will help you improve your biocontrols program. In this informative, real-world workshop led by biocontrols expert Suzanne Wainwright-Evans, owner of Buglady Consulting, you’ll learn: The key players that are producing beneficials How to check product quality once you get them The latest trends and practices growers are using to implement beneficials into their programs Important pitfalls to avoid. A roundup of the current biocontrol research that can help you be more successful in your production practices this season. Wainwright-Evans, a pest management specialist, has been involved in the green industry for more than two […]

Read More
Gotham Greens Queens

February 8, 2016

Gotham Greens Opens Newest Greenhouse In Queens, NY

The new facility, which was partially funded by grants based on reduced energy consumption, nearly triples Gotham Greens’ overall production capacity in New York.

Read More
Dr Allan Armitage

February 8, 2016

Why Succulents Have Become The Hippest Plants On The Ma…

Allan Armitage says succulents used to be relegated to the far end of the display bench, but their adaptability, decorative value, and low maintenance requirements have now made them a staple.

Read More
Travis Higginbotham

February 8, 2016

Biocontrols And Next-Generation Production

Biocontrols are becoming much more established in greenhouse production. In some cases, it’s the next generation of growers that’s helping to support the adoption of this next generation of pest control. Travis Higginbotham, R&D Manager for Battlefield Farms, in Rapidan, VA, is a great example. Brought on in 2014, he is helping Battlefield take the next step in product development, as well as become more efficient as a business and adapt to new technologies and demands from their customers with a more proactive approach. Higginbotham will share information on Battlefield’s nematode program at the Biocontrols USA 2016 Conference and Expo, March 3-4, 2016 in Monterey, CA. We asked him about the details involved with building a new biocontrols program, as well as the future of sustainability in greenhouse production. Q: What are the differences in costs involved in using biocontrols? What costs should growers consider, aside from the hard costs […]

Read More
Jim Zablocki, Plant Prod

February 5, 2016

Sign Up For A Webinar On Using Plant Nutrition To Impro…

The webinar takes place March 2, and covers how leading growers are using plant nutrition to minimize costs, reduce the number of factors they need to worry about, and lessen environmental impacts.

Read More
Biocontrols Conference and Expo 2016

February 4, 2016

Biocontrols 2016 Conference Offers Insights And Learnin…

The Biocontrols 2016 Conference & Expo, which takes place March 3-4, 2016, in Monterey, CA, brings together growers, pest control advisers, suppliers, researchers, and other segments of the industry to share the latest information on biochemicals, microbial pesticides, and beneficials, and help you put biocontrols to work in your operation.

Read More

February 4, 2016

Poinsettia Growers Discuss Their Recent Trials And Triu…

Growers from Pennsylvania, Illinois, and North Carolina describer their experiences trialing everyone’s favorite holiday season flora.

Read More
LiveTrends Copper Wire Orb

February 3, 2016

The Coolest New Retail Products From TPIE

During the recent Tropical Plants Industry Exhibition (TPIE) in Ft. Lauderdale, FL, the Garden Center Group embarked on a search for the coolest new products for garden retailers. Here’s what they discovered.

Read More

February 3, 2016

New Plants, Products, And Trends From TPIE 2016

Tropicals, foliage, and succulents may be the way to new consumers’ hearts, based on the cool ideas, products, and trends presented at the Florida Nursery Growers and Landscape Association’s (FNGLA) 2016 Tropical Plant Industry Exhibition (TPIE), January 20-22, 2016 at the Broward County Convention Center in Ft. Lauderdale, FL. The theme this year, Elevating Expectations, was fulfilled, renewing and reinvigorating attendees to carry forth their businesses into 2016 and beyond. TPIE showcases the latest trends in foliage, floral, and tropical plants, with a tradeshow of more than 200,000 square feet of show-stopping displays. While checking out new plants and products is a great excuse to travel to South Florida in late January, the threat of Storm Jonas bringing the snowstorm of the century to the Mid-Atlantic and Southern states had some show attendees booking flights early to get home before they were stranded. Still, reports from FNGLA said this year’s TPIE […]

Read More
Rhododendron ‘Dandy Man’ (Proven Winners ColorChoice Shrubs)

February 2, 2016

Spring Meadow Nursery Partnering With Proven Winners Eu…

The expansion creates a cohesive brand for what is now a global market, immediately introducing more than 24 shrubs to the European market, with the potential for 125 or more in the future.

Read More

February 2, 2016

19 Strategies To Strengthen The Horticulture Industry

In Greenhouse Grower’s annual State Of The Industry Survey, we asked how your operation is living the GROW initiative’s five pillars: cultivate new customers, demand quality, drive consumer success, invest in the industry, and sharpen business management. Here is what you had to say.

Read More

February 1, 2016

Stores Big On Plant Sales Vs. Stores With Diverse Produ…

Stores with most of their gross sales coming from plants tend to think those where plants generate less than half of annual sales are ... not quite legitimate. So we took a closer look at what kind of differences we could find between the two groups, and discovered several surprising results.

Read More
[gravityform id="35" title="false" description="false"]