Wholesale tree and plant producer TreeTown USA announced in March its acquisition of automation solutions provider Midas Nursery Solutions, based in Hillsboro, OR. TreeTown USA is a family owned nursery with 18 growing locations throughout Texas, Florida, California, and Oregon that encompass more than 6,000 acres of production and account for 33 million plants produced each year.
Greenhouse Grower caught up with TreeTown USA CEO Jonathan Saperstein to ask about the Midas Nursery Solutions acquisition and where the nursery plans to go from here.
Greenhouse Grower (GG): What did you see in Midas Nursery Solutions that led you to feel it was important to make it a part of TreeTown USA?
Jonathan Saperstein: Midas Nursery Solutions is a company we have been working with for many years. As we started to develop our plans for 2019 and beyond and tried to determine how they would tax our internal organization, we realized we needed to add external resources to manage everything. We realized that our two companies shared common views about the industry. It wasn’t long after I asked Matt Gold, President of Midas Nursery Solutions if he would like to join forces that we had a signed deal.
GG: How will TreeTown USA integrate Midas Nursery Solutions into its operations?
Saperstein: Midas will do the same things they did before. They are basically still Midas Nursery Solutions, except now they have only one customer. All the master projects from TreeTown’s industrial engineering group will now be under Matt Gold’s direction.
GG: What does the acquisition of Midas Nursery Solutions mean for the customers you serve?
Saperstein: Hopefully, it means we will continue to be able to produce more with the same resources, get customers’ tasks completed in a timely manner, and deliver higher quality plants at more competitive prices, all while doing this on a very large scale.
Long term, we hope to do even more for our customers. Automation helps with that, especially with consistency and uniformity. For example, we produce boxwood at nearly every one of our facilities. The boxwood plants are sometimes different sizes. It is hard to train staff across state lines to get the exact same look. With a machine, all we have to do is have the same setting.
GG: What role will Matt Gold play at TreeTown USA as Director of Continuous Improvements?
Saperstein: We have three types of projects here at TreeTown USA that Matt will oversee. First, crazy, off-the-wall ideas. Second, our own programs and projects, and three, known projects that might work in greenhouse environments or similar industries but that haven’t been used in outdoor nursery production before. These are known things we already have that we are looking to roll out to other facilities.
Matt will also assess the entire production process from start to finish and look at how to improve it. A lot of people think they can install a machine and it will solve all their problems. If you don’t look at processes holistically, you can actually be less efficient.
GG: What do you feel is needed to keep the nursery industry on a path of growth?
Saperstein: When it comes to pricing, there will always be concern about losing market share. With the rising costs in the nursery environment, there is not much more we can do than raise prices. Even if we automate, equipment costs money. At best there is a two-year return for equipment. You are still outlaying cash, and you have to absorb that cost. People think no one else is raising prices. As a grower, you need to be the one willing to do it.
From a production standpoint, the biggest concern is that the industry stays healthy. It is not about how much you can put on the ground. To stay healthy, growers need to pay attention to the market and what people are producing. They need to continue to innovate and be mindful to not over-produce.
GG: What’s next for TreeTown USA?
Saperstein: We have a lot of integration going on across the board. We are consolidating production in California, and we now have capacity in regions we didn’t before. We just finished getting all our divisions on the same ERP system as well as payroll system. We also continue to push through new techniques and processes as much as we can to make sure we are ready when opportunities come and don’t let things pass us by.
Our slogan for this year is 2019: The Year of One. We are taking all the companies we bought in the acquisition and making sure everyone is going in the same direction growing together as one. In 18 to 24 months, we’ll see where we go from there.