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...

August 20, 2017

Proven Winners and Kentucky Nursery and Landscape Association to Partner on Summer Outing

This year, KNLA is combining its summer outing with the Proven Winners Landscape Roadshow for an informative event that will take place on September 21.

Read More
Four Star 2018 Catalog

August 18, 2017

Four Star Greenhouses’ 2018 Catalog Includes New Varieties and Cultural Tips

The new catalog is available in both print and digital formats, and features information on new trays that allow for more plugs per square foot.

Read More
Francis Kwong, PanAmerican Seed

August 15, 2017

Ornamental Seed Scientist Francis Kwong Dies at Age 65

Kwong was most recently the Director of Seed Technology for PanAmerican Seed, and his research was instrumental in the development of calibrachoa, angelonia, and other plants.

Read More
Latest Stories

August 20, 2017

Proven Winners and Kentucky Nursery and Landscape Assoc…

This year, KNLA is combining its summer outing with the Proven Winners Landscape Roadshow for an informative event that will take place on September 21.

Read More
Four Star 2018 Catalog

August 18, 2017

Four Star Greenhouses’ 2018 Catalog Includes New Variet…

The new catalog is available in both print and digital formats, and features information on new trays that allow for more plugs per square foot.

Read More
Francis Kwong, PanAmerican Seed

August 15, 2017

Ornamental Seed Scientist Francis Kwong Dies at Age 65

Kwong was most recently the Director of Seed Technology for PanAmerican Seed, and his research was instrumental in the development of calibrachoa, angelonia, and other plants.

Read More
Candy Tops Snapdragons Series (Sakata Ornamentals)

August 3, 2017

Five Characteristics Breeders Want in Top-Performing Sp…

New spring annuals have to provide something for everyone — longevity, durability, performance, and more — if they want to meet breeders’ high standards for market-worthy plants.

Read More
Petunia 'Headliner Pink Sky" (Selecta)

August 3, 2017

Why Eccentricity is the New Black in Spring Annuals

Consumers judge plants by appearance, color impact, and ease of maintenance, which is why retailers want new spring annuals that are novel standouts.    

Read More

August 1, 2017

39 New Vegetables and Herbs for 2018

New vegetable and herb introductions for 2017 offer unique shaped fruits, distinctive foliage, intense flavors, improved disease resistance, high yields, and more. Here are 39 new vegetable and herb varieties to consider for your product mix in 2018.

Read More
2018 Griffin Catalog

July 31, 2017

Griffin Releases Print and Digital Versions of Its 2018…

The 250-page print catalog features more than 350 new varieties from leading breeders, while the enhanced digital version has extra features on crop culture, grower tools, and more.

Read More
Emerald-Coast-Growers-Guide-Feature-Image

July 27, 2017

Emerald Coast Growers Offers Updated Guide on its Newes…

This year’s guide features new varieties while maintaining Emerald Coast’s ornamental grass program and expanding its perennial plants line.

Read More
Terra Nova Shipping Box

July 20, 2017

Terra Nova Nurseries, Dümmen Orange to Partner on Unroo…

Terra Nova Nurseries has contracted with Dümmen Orange to produce unrooted cuttings (URCs) from Terra Nova private stock located at Dümmen Orange’s Central America facilities. The URCs will fulfill orders in North America and Europe.

Read More

July 20, 2017

New Perennials, Trial Gardens, and Merchandising Were H…

Darwin Perennials Day has steadily become one of the must-attend perennial events of the summer. This year, even the weather cooperated.

Read More
2018 Ball Seed Catalog

July 17, 2017

Ball Seed’s 2018 New Varieties Catalog Now Available

The expanded guide includes breakthrough breeding from Ball in annuals, perennials, vegetables, potted plants, and more.

Read More
Pleasant View Open House

July 16, 2017

Pleasant View Gardens, D.S. Cole Growers Hosting Open H…

The event gives horticulture industry professionals the chance to check out nearly 80 new introductions from Proven Winners, as well as Pleasant View’s new Savor Edibles & Fragrants line.

Read More
All American Selections

July 12, 2017

All-America Selections Celebrates Milestone Anniversary…

Coinciding with its 85th anniversary celebration, AAS is hosting an open house at its new offices, and has also released its annual report.

Read More

July 8, 2017

Plant Patent Law: Protecting the Variety Pipeline

Breeders call for better cooperation in protecting intellectual property while considering how stricter laws and expensive patents could impact the future of innovation.

Read More
Calibrachoa ‘Superbells Holy Moly!’ (Proven Winners)

July 8, 2017

Are Utility Patents Tying Up Innovation With Litigation…

The opportunities for innovation in plant breeding could be greatly advanced by creating an industry-led patent licensing platform.

Read More

July 8, 2017

Fleuroselect and CIOPORA Offer Organizational Leadershi…

Learn why breeders feel these organizations should be emulated in an industry-led initiative to protect plant breeding efforts.

Read More
Thalictrum Nimbus White (Terra Nova Nurseries)

June 30, 2017

Kelly Norris Dishes on New Plants, Going to Seed, and B…

From woody perennials to genetically modified petunias, Kelly Norris gives his take on what turned out to be a busy spring.

Read More
Jim Devereux, Green Fuse Botanicals

June 24, 2017

Green Fuse Botanicals New Vice President is Focused on …

Jim Devereux, who will oversee production, sales, and marketing for Green Fuse, says he hopes to bring genetics to the market that break from traditional production methods for finished growers.

Read More