Ten Questions With Joel Goldsmith

Ten Questions With Joel Goldsmith

Following the announcement of Goldsmith Seeds’ purchase by Syngenta on October 21, Greenhouse Grower Group Editor Richard Jones caught up with Goldsmith President Joel Goldsmith to talk more about the details of the deal and the impact it will have on the two companies and on the industry.

Q: What was the impetus for the decision to sell the company to Syngenta?
Goldsmith:
I can’t say it’s something we were looking to have happen. It came out of discussions Syngenta had initiated. We’ve been talking off and on, actually, for a number of years. But we finally were able to reach agreement and that all happened in the last week or so.

Q: We’re disappointed to see a family business go, but it seems like an understandable move on your part.
Goldsmith:
I would share those feelings. I’m sorry to see it not be a family business. But at the same time, I think this is the best way for what everybody in this company has worked for to survive, and be around for the long term. This is the right move for that.

Q: Did the current economic conditions spur these talks along?
Goldsmith:
No, not really. All of our discussions have been outside of the current short term economic conditions–or what I’m hoping is a short term economic situation.

It did not play a role, other than to be an illustration from our standpoint of the kind of things we’re concerned about as a family business, withstanding downturns in the business for whatever reason. You know, we’re going along very well right now, and as long as that continues we don’t have any problems. But you remember the problems with Ralstonia four or five years ago. Those are the types of things that could dramatically impact our ability to survive and be successful. So more than anything that’s what we’re offsetting here.

Q: What will your role be from here on out?
Goldsmith:
I’m still in charge, and we’re going to be running this under the Goldsmith name. The plan is to utilize the name because they see a lot of value in it in what we’ve built.

And I think there are some really good aspects to keeping things separate. You muddy things up too much and people don’t know whether they’re a customer or a competitor or how that all fits together. I’m a believer that if you can have each of your business segments with an identity, that people know who you are and what you do, you’re better off.

Q: Will this impact your production?
Goldsmith:
We and Syngenta have very different models. We do almost all of our production ourselves. And Syngenta uses a lot of contract seed producers. In this day and age, with the emphasis on seed quality being what it is, I think having it under your own control is a better model overall. It doesn’t mean contract can’t work, but it’s harder to manage and it’s harder to maintain the quality when it’s a separate process from everything else you’re doing.

Syngenta is excited about what we can do in Guatemala and we have some extra capacity down there we haven’t filled up yet with seed, so I’m sure we’ll find uses for that on some of their product.

Q: What changes will people notice from the outside?
Goldsmith:
That’s hard to say at the moment. For the most part I don’t anticipate a lot of external changes. We still have to go through the integration process–we have a lot of areas where we both are active. We both have flower breeding facilities and staff, so we have to look at that and see how it’s going to fit together. We’ve already talked some about the production. And then there’s also the sales of the products at the wholesale level. Syngenta does that currently for North America out of Boulder. That I’m sure will be looked at because that’s mainly a vegetative expertise there. So we’ll have to look at that. We could see some changes there.

But I don’t expect dramatic changes. We’re doing very well right now so they’re not coming in to change a lot of stuff. They’re coming in to build on what we’re doing, so we’ll just have to see how that manifests itself out in the marketplace.

Q: What about the areas where there are some product redundancies?
Goldsmith:
Syngenta offers quite a range of products that we don’t currently have. But there’s overlap on impatiens and petunias and geraniums and cyclamen and pansies and a whole list of major crops where they’ve got products and we’ve got products. We’ll have to sit down together and go through those and do a good analysis to see which ones should continue and which ones won’t because there are savings to be made if we narrow that product mix, I believe.

But we don’t want to get rid of good stuff. If we both have good products, those should continue to be sold in the marketplace.

Q: Will you decide what stays and what goes, or will you leave that up to the market?
Goldsmith:
There will be certain decisions made as part of the integration and then there will be other ones where it will be a marketplace decision. We do that a fair amount–we introduce a new product and leave the old one in the marketplace and see what happens. If the new one adds to the sales, that’s great. If it takes away, then down the road you get rid of that old one.

Now, I have to do my disclaimer. Those things won’t be worked out until we go through the finalization process, which we’re estimating will take 6-8 weeks.

Q: You recently announced some changes for Pack Trials next year, and that Goldsmith and Syngenta wouldn’t be partnering at the same location as you have in the past. Is that changing back?
Goldsmith:
Most likely we will be having joint Pack Trials again. I don’t know that decision’s been made yet, but in fact there were joint discussions today, so that will be worked out pretty soon.

Q: Will there be any other impact on the staff at Goldsmith?
Goldsmith:
About 10 years ago we started an employee stock ownership plan here and that’s a significant component to our employees’ retirement program. Through that they are going to participate in this sale to the tune of about 20 percent. That will go to the retirement programs of all of our permanent employees that have been here long enough to be in the program. So, they will see some financial gain from this as well, which is really good in this financial market.

Leave a Reply

2 comments on “Ten Questions With Joel Goldsmith

  1. I hope the creativity is not lost with the joining of the two companies. Goldsmith has been a pioneer and made many great contributions to the industry.

  2. I hope the creativity is not lost with the joining of the two companies. Goldsmith has been a pioneer and made many great contributions to the industry.

More From Varieties...
all-america-selections-new-website-home-page

December 3, 2016

New Mobile Responsive Website From All-America Selections Offers Improved Navigation

All-America Selections has launched a newly redesigned and revamped mobile-responsive website that includes a more attractive design, enhanced search tools, and easier and simpler navigation.

Read More
Sea Breeze Catharanthus combo

December 2, 2016

Four Mixed Container Trends To Watch

Mixed containers are still one of the best-selling SKUs at retail. Pay attention to these four trends that are making their mark on multi-liner mixes and combination containers.

Read More
kelly-norris

December 2, 2016

Kelly Norris: How The “Me Too” Philosophy Affects Plant Breeding

When you’re selling the exact same thing as everyone else, it’s unrealistic to expect customers to buy only from you.

Read More
Latest Stories
all-america-selections-new-website-home-page

December 3, 2016

New Mobile Responsive Website From All-America Selectio…

All-America Selections has launched a newly redesigned and revamped mobile-responsive website that includes a more attractive design, enhanced search tools, and easier and simpler navigation.

Read More
Sea Breeze Catharanthus combo

December 2, 2016

Four Mixed Container Trends To Watch

Mixed containers are still one of the best-selling SKUs at retail. Pay attention to these four trends that are making their mark on multi-liner mixes and combination containers.

Read More
kelly-norris

December 2, 2016

Kelly Norris: How The “Me Too” Philosophy Affects Plant…

When you’re selling the exact same thing as everyone else, it’s unrealistic to expect customers to buy only from you.

Read More

November 29, 2016

How Changes In Plant Patent Law Could Affect Your Varie…

There is an ongoing discussion happening among plant genetics companies about the current laws and ethics of plant breeding, and what the future holds for the improved lawful protection of genetics.

Read More
endless-summer

November 29, 2016

Endless Summer Hydrangeas Will Soon Feature New Identit…

Bailey Nurseries, which first introduced the reblooming hydrangea a decade ago, says the new identity will feature a more contemporary look to appeal to current and future gardeners.

Read More
prince-tut-cyperus-grass-feature

November 28, 2016

Growing Tips For ‘Prince Tut’ Cyperus Grass

'Prince Tut’ from Proven Winners’ Graceful Grasses collection is versatile, working well in all container sizes with its columnar habit and dense canopy and filling out well in the landscape.

Read More
Sea breeze combo

November 26, 2016

Four Mixed Container Trends To Watch

Mixed containers are still one of the best-selling SKUs at retail. Pay attention to these four trends that are making their mark on multi-liner mixes and combination containers.

Read More
Begonia at Oklahoma State University field trials

November 26, 2016

2016 Oklahoma State University Field Trials Results

Check out the 2016 field trials results for Oklahoma State University in Oklahoma City.

Read More
Petunia 'Tidal Wave Cherry'

November 25, 2016

2016 North Dakota State University Field Trials Results

Check out the 2016 field trials results from North Dakota State University in Fargo, ND.

Read More
Scaevola 'Scala Bicolor Blue'

November 24, 2016

2016 North Carolina State University Field Trials Resul…

Check out the 2016 field trial results at North Carolina State University/J.C. Raulston Arboretum in Raleigh, NC.

Read More
2016 Missouri Botanical Garden Flower Trials

November 23, 2016

2016 Missouri Botanical Garden Field Trials Results

Check out the 2016 field trials results for the Missouri Botanical Garden in St. Louis, MO.

Read More
Mitchell’s Nursery & Greenhouse first caught the poinsettia bug in 1996, but the operation didn’t begin trialing the plant until 2004

November 21, 2016

Poinsettia Trials Across The Eastern U.S. To Take Place…

Poinsettia growers interested in keeping up with the latest variety and production trends have the chance to attend university open houses in New Hampshire, Louisiana, and Ohio.

Read More
Coleus 'Main Street River Walk'

November 21, 2016

2016 Michigan State University Field Trials Results

Check out the 2016 field trials results for Michigan State University in East Lansing, MI.

Read More
Field trials at Lucas Greenhouses

November 20, 2016

2016 Lucas Greenhouses Field Trials Results

Check out the 2016 Field Trials results for Lucas Greenhouses in Monroeville, NJ.

Read More
Catharanthus 'Soiree Kawaii Coral'

November 19, 2016

Kansas State University 2016 Field Trials Results

Check out the 2016 field trial results for Kansas State University in Lawrence, KS.

Read More
2016 Massachusetts Horticultural Society field trials

November 18, 2016

2016 Massachusetts Horticultural Society Field Trials R…

Check out the 2016 field trials results for the Massachusetts Horticultural Society in Wellesley, MA.

Read More
verbena-endurascape

November 18, 2016

All-America Selections Announces Its 2017 Slate Of Vari…

Brokers, growers, mail order, and seed packet companies can purchase these varieties immediately. Retailers and consumers will find AAS Winners for sale for the 2017 gardening season as supply becomes available throughout the chain of distribution.

Read More
Vinca 'Valiant Lilac'

November 17, 2016

2016 Metrolina Greenhouses Field Trials Results

Check out the 2016 field trials results for Metrolina Greenhouses in Huntersville, NC.

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