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...
Chick Charms

April 29, 2016

Kelly Norris: Why The Plant Collector Market Is Set To Explode, And What It Means For You

In his latest column for Greenhouse Grower magazine, Kelly Norris says there are more plant collectors out there than we think, which opens the way for the gift plant market to explode.

Read More
Pennisetum Fireworks

April 28, 2016

Why Ornamental Grasses Are Great For People In Condos And Apartments

Allan Armitage says breeders need to do a better job of making growers, brokers, and garden centers aware of better ornamental grass cultivars for the increasingly shrinking garden space.

Read More
Andropogon gerardii Blackhawks (Intrinsic Perennial Gardens)

April 27, 2016

Know Your Market When Choosing Ornamental Grasses

Growers have no shortage of choices in the ornamental grass market. Narrowing down the selection comes down to finding the right plant for the right purpose.

Read More
Latest Stories
Chick Charms

April 29, 2016

Kelly Norris: Why The Plant Collector Market Is Set To …

In his latest column for Greenhouse Grower magazine, Kelly Norris says there are more plant collectors out there than we think, which opens the way for the gift plant market to explode.

Read More
Pennisetum Fireworks

April 28, 2016

Why Ornamental Grasses Are Great For People In Condos A…

Allan Armitage says breeders need to do a better job of making growers, brokers, and garden centers aware of better ornamental grass cultivars for the increasingly shrinking garden space.

Read More
Andropogon gerardii Blackhawks (Intrinsic Perennial Gardens)

April 27, 2016

Know Your Market When Choosing Ornamental Grasses

Growers have no shortage of choices in the ornamental grass market. Narrowing down the selection comes down to finding the right plant for the right purpose.

Read More
Bee on Bidens

April 25, 2016

Breeders Go The Distance To Bring New Plant Varieties T…

Breeders are meeting the demand for new varieties that perform and sell well by extending trialing to engage the grower community, using advanced technology, and encouraging international collaboration.

Read More
Dr Allan Armitage

April 20, 2016

Growers And Breeders Are Always Looking For A Better To…

While edibles become more diverse, there's one goal that hard-core gardeners and urban foodscapers share.

Read More
Syngenta Pentas

April 20, 2016

Syngenta Flowers Opens Its Perennial Genetics To The Ma…

California Spring Trials 2016 visitors to Syngenta Flowers found the breeder company and its employees happy and excited for the future, in the wake of the announcement of its acquisition by ChemChina. Now Syngenta Flowers is ready to move forward with its breeding efforts in geraniums, pentas, and other crops, and it is opening its perennials offerings to the whole supply chain for a better chance to get those plants to retail.     Syngenta Wants To Revolutionize Geranium Breeding The big news in this year’s trial, says Karl Trellinger, Technical Services Representative at Syngenta, is the change in Syngenta’s breeding efforts in geraniums and pentas. The Calliope geranium series, long considered a premium line in the market, is getting a makeover. Growers have told the breeder that they love the colors available in the Calliope series, but the plants are just too vigorous for smaller containers and combinations. As […]

Read More
Petunia Vista Bubblegum (Proven Winners)

April 20, 2016

Proven Winners Funds Gardening “It Couple,” Names Plant…

Since 1992, Proven Winners has been changing the gardening game, and it’s not stopping now. With new plants, improved series, and interesting retail customers, the brand aims to make planning easier for growers, and make gardening easier and more fun for consumers. At its new 2016 California Spring Trials location at Kirigin Cellars in Gilroy, Proven Winners had the space and a beautiful setting to lay all of its offerings out, from new and improved varieties in annuals, perennials, and shrubs, to marketing and retail programs. Check out the slideshow below for highlights.   Proven Winners Is Flexing Its Marketing Muscle One of the ways Proven Winners is working toward better use of its products and gardening in general, is by supporting the gardening authorities that gardeners of all ages trust on social media. Director of Marketing Marshall Dirks says while searching for influential gardeners, he came across a young […]

Read More
Scaevola 'Purple Haze' (Danziger 2016)

April 19, 2016

Allan Armitage Picks His Favorites From Proven Winners,…

From “crazy” petunias to container pentas, there was plenty that caught Allan’s eye during the final day of 2016 California Spring Trials.

Read More
CallaFornia Red

April 19, 2016

Golden State Bulb Company Shows Off New Concepts In Cal…

There’s no question that Golden State Bulb Company’s specialty is in breeding virtually any color of Calla Lily, available in about any habit — cut flower, bouquet pot, upright pot type — the list goes on. But now, the bulb specialist is focusing on making calla lilies more accessible to the masses, for use in combination planters and the landscape, with calla six-packs. Calla breeder Peter Beckman showed us the shrunken-down version of these beauties, and they’re certainly perfect for patio pots, planting along paths or at the front of the garden, or en masse for an elegant statement. This presentation makes it easy for consumers to pick up and use callas, without the intimidation they might feel from a bulb crop, says Dr. Allan Armitage.   They’re also versatile for growers to plant in early to mid-February to add to finished containers in the spring, or to sell in […]

Read More
Disney Trial Garden

April 17, 2016

Mark Your Calendars For Florida Flower Trials In May

The two-day event, which takes place in Orlando, is held in conjunction with the Epcot International Flower and Garden Festival and offers educational seminars, tours, and open houses.

Read More
Dianthus Paint the Town Fuchsia_CJW14 (2)

April 16, 2016

Proven Winners Focuses On A Better Consumer Garden Expe…

Excellent, long-lasting performance, and easy maintenance are at the core of Proven Winners’ introductions.

Read More

April 15, 2016

Pacific Plug & Liner Features Plenty Of New Varieti…

One of the best-merchandised spots on the California Spring Trials is always Pacific Plug & Liner (PP&L), where the greenhouse is stocked with beautiful plants and displays, and the people are dressed to the nines and graciously ready to help in any way.

Read More

April 15, 2016

American Takii Commemorates 180 Years Of Industry Commi…

American Takii, Hilverdakooij, and newcomer HMA Plants show off zombie-zone celosia, new dianthus, and hip succulents.

Read More

April 15, 2016

Ernst Benary of America Takes Plant Fashion Week To The…

Ernst Benary of America gave growers a taste of the fashion world during the new variety promenade held during California Spring Trials 2016.

Read More
Fashion Show At Benary

April 15, 2016

California Spring Trials: Dr. Allan Armitage Notes Emer…

Attractive new varieties will draw the eyes of consumers, but innovation and creativity will keep them coming back.

Read More
Delizz Strawberry packaging

April 14, 2016

ABZ Seeds’ Delizz Strawberry Makes Mouths Water At Spee…

Speedling, Inc. hosted Hem Genetics, Thompson & Morgan, ABZ Seeds, Plant Source International, and Vista Farms For California Spring Trials 2016. Here are some of the highlights of the trial.

Read More
Crazytunia Citrus Twist

April 14, 2016

Dr. Allan Armitage’s Top Picks From Floricultura And Sa…

The best new flower introductions have the power to turn a non-believer into a fan. Check out Dr. Allan Armitage’s top picks from his visit to Sakata and Floricultura, the latter of which hosted a number of breeders.

Read More
Begonia Evi Pink and Evi Bright Pink

April 14, 2016

Westhoff, Beekenkamp, PAC-Elsner And Plug Connection Pr…

Floricultura-Pacifica in Salinas opened its doors to invite California Spring Trials visitors to experience new offerings from European breeders including Westhoff Flowers, Beekenkamp, and PAC-Elsner, as well as California native The Plug Connection. While there, it was interesting to witness the ongoing and highly automated production of orchids, as well as construction of more greenhouse space happening simultaneously. As is tradition, Westhoff Flowers invited its visitors to flag their favorite combos at the entrance, and showed off its unique assortment of annuals, as well as a few concepts. The breeder is working loosely with Florist Holland to show mixes used with Westhoff Flowers — or Westflowers — annuals and Florist gerberas in the center. The combinations are bright and cheerful, and spur a happy reaction in those who have seen them, so it will be interesting to see what happens with this concept going forward. Another new idea is putting together […]

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