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Today's Grower - Greenhouse Blog

ETWW Means Success In Today’s Customer Driven Economy


Before you start your next building project with a greenhouse manufacturer, make sure they are ETWW (Easy to Work With). They should be flexible enough to accommodate customizations, reduce the amount of work/hassle for the grower, and stand behind their work after the job is done.

Is your greenhouse manufacturer flexible when you request customizations?
Every greenhouse manufacturer is different, and some are more willing than others to accommodate requests for modifications. At GGS we manufacture greenhouses customized to each grower’s particular needs. We have standard product lines, but we also remain flexible to our customer’s requests. This doesn’t mean that we can answer every customization request. It does mean we will do our best. Customization does not have to mean more expensive. Often by listening to what our customers want we can provide standard solutions to their specific needs with only minor variations to our product lines. For example, custom post spacing to account for door placement can be accomplished easily within our modular greenhouse design options.

Does your greenhouse manufacturer spend the necessary time with you, even if you’re not sure what you want?
For customers who are not clear on their greenhouse design requirements from the start, GGS will work with you to develop rough greenhouse layouts, and multiple options to consider. Our business is helping you grow.

Will your greenhouse manufacturer stand behind their work after the job is done?
We deliver hundreds of greenhouse orders error-free every year, but when we do make a mistake it is essential that we fix the error as quickly and as effectively as possible.

Is your greenhouse manufacturer willing to listen?
At GGS, we welcome input from our customers to tell us how we’re doing and what you need from us. It is our goal to remain the number one commercial greenhouse manufacturer in the world. We can achieve this only with your help. Tell us how we’re doing, and where we can improve. Together we will make it easier for everyone to build quality greenhouses with GGS.

Here are our thoughts on how a greenhouse manufacturer should be easy to work with:

1. Improve customers interactions.
Products and services are important, and willingness to continue developing new solutions for better growing environments. Equally important is the experience customers walk away with every time they interact with our company. Whether for a quote, an order, follow up on a construction project, or researching what greenhouse design options are available, you to have a positive impression.

2. Reduce the work for customers.
Is your greenhouse manufacturer looking at how they can assist you with more than just the greenhouse purchase. What do you need to do after you have chosen your greenhouse supplier? Do they provide optional turnkey solutions including construction project management for customers who do not want to be tied up managing a greenhouse build and coordinating with all the sub trades.

3. Provide after sales support to ensure customers are fully satisfied.
Every effort should be made to ensure you get the ideal growing environment for your crops. After the project is done your greenhouse manufacturer should be able to fully stand behind their work, and if you have questions or concerns, their sales professionals should continue to work with you until your issues are resolved.

4. Listening to customers and getting feedback to provide an atmosphere of continuous learning
Of course everyone loves hearing positive feedback about how their structures are improving the quality of our customers’ crops. But they should also always want to know how they can further improve – and this industry is all about the exchange of ideas.

Regardless of how well-made greenhouse structures are,  how efficiently ventilation systems work, or how easy it is to build, it is the people inside the company that make or break it. For a greenhouse manufacturer or any other company to be easy to work with, the staff needs to be exceptional, and have the skills and the mindset to improve every day.

If you’re planning a greenhouse expansion and want to deal with an ETWW manufacturer, contact us now and we will do our best to prove to you that GGS is the easiest greenhouse manufacturer to work with.

7 Considerations To Make When Managing A Commercial Greenhouse Construction Project

There are many things to think about when managing a greenhouse construction project. Your business relies on factors such as crop deadlines and financing – make sure your project stays on course and you are making the proper considerations. You can always hire expert project managers like GGS if you don’t want to be involved in all the details, but if you decide to be your own General Contractor here are some tips to help you through the process.

1. A greenhouse structure is a capital purchase – treat it as such

Using your operating line of credit to expand your greenhouse is a classic misstep that has gotten more than a few greenhouse growers in hot water with their banks, suppliers, and sometimes their employees. Operating lines are for operating costs, something you will also likely need to increase if adding substantially to your greenhouse business. Adding a new greenhouse is a capital purchase, and should be approached like one if you intend to have the money to pay for your new greenhouse irrigation system, boiler, and environmental controls.

2. Ask your banker for more money than what you have been quoted for your greenhouse equipment

It doesn’t matter how detailed you are in your planning; major construction projects almost always have cost overruns. At GGS we recommend our customers approach their lending institutes and request 10% more than what they budget. This shows people financing your greenhouse that you build in contingencies, which actually makes you look less risky than if you had asked for less. 10% can go a long way to covering unexpected costs, like new building permit fees implemented by the town, or realizing you forgot to get a quote for your greenhouse poly, or changing your mind and wanting to add an extra loading dock at the last minute.

3. Have a kickoff meeting to establish a construction schedule with all suppliers and contractors

Getting everyone on the same page before any project begins is paramount. Without establishing how everyone will work together, there is a high risk for cost overruns during construction, because someone else may have put their systems where the next person expected to be able to start working. As project manager you need to know what everyone is doing and when they’re doing it. Get the team together early with a kickoff meeting. This first meeting can even be done over telephone or a web conference if you can’t get everyone in the same room. It is important to establish goals and milestones with your suppliers and contractors, ensuring that you record them in your calendar for later reference.

4. Coordinate the flow of funds to match bank draws with supplier payment terms

Most suppliers will want some kind of a deposit, and then progress payment draws are standard in any construction related field. Your bank may require you to provide proof of delivery, or percentage completion invoices to justify drawing down on the load. In order to make sure your greenhouse construction goes smoothly the bank and your suppliers have to be on the same page you are on. It is a lot less stressful to make sure all the payment terms are agreed to before construction begins.

5. Give yourself enough time to execute your greenhouse expansion

No matter how good your greenhouse manufacturer is, or how fast your greenhouse construction company is, no one can deliver a turnkey greenhouse yesterday when you are placing your order today. Proper planning takes time, and crop deadlines are important. Discuss this early with your greenhouse manufacturer and they will be able to assist you in putting together a proper timeline so decision on details like, greenhouse structure, heating, irrigation, and the environmental controls can be scheduled to give you the finished greenhouse when you need it.

6. Have regularly scheduled meetings to make sure milestones are met and delays are brought in line quickly

Don’t assume that just because you have accounted for everything, that everything will go according to plan. Stay on top of the milestones you set in your kickoff meeting, and schedule meetings in accordance with them. For example, if there are delays in receiving materials for whatever reason, you need to be aware so you can push back your construction crew’s schedule.

7. Use technology to keep your project organized

Paper calendars and whiteboards can be useful visual aids for simple tasks and schedules. However, they do have their limitations, and you may want to consider utilizing software to set reminders and organize tasks and meetings. This could be as simple as using Outlook to schedule reminders for your milestones, phone calls, and coordinating with your project team. Or you may want to invest in more robust project management software that allows you to set task dependencies that will automatically adjust lead times and notify your team of changes in order to keep your project on track.

If you need a reliable manufacturer for your next expansion, GGS supplies a wide variety of complete commercial greenhouse structures, including turnkey solutions of the following structure types:

Curved Glass Greenhouses
Low Profile Venlo Greenhouses

Gutter Connected Poly Greenhouses
Widespan Greenhouses
Freestanding Greenhouses
Cold Frames High Tunnels
Greenhouses for Marijuana Growing

The Next Generation Of Greenhouse Employees Might Be The Elderly

Eldery woman and young girl gardeningOver the last few years the horticultural industry has had a healthy preoccupation with engaging the “next generation”.  We need them as customers, suppliers, innovators, and employees.  And while continuing to court young blood makes good sense, for sustainable growth we should not be ignoring the vast masses of soon to be semi-retired baby boomers, or their predecessors.

Consider Silicon Valley’s 90 year old tech designer, Barbara Beskind, who works 1 day a week at IDEO helping to design human-centered products that speak to the needs of an aging population.  Beskind wants products that help prevent falls, and use facial recognition to provide easy reminders of people’s names. She reminds younger designers that older fingers don’t do as well with nimble tasks, and eyesight and hearing diminishes with age.

Just as listening to younger employees can provide us with a wealth of knowledge of the demands and expectations of their generation, listening to older employees can open a window to a market that may not be fully satisfied with our current offerings.

There are roughly 76 million boomers in the US, representing about 19% of the total population, and while the majority of them are still under 65, every year moves us closer to potential workforce mass exodus, and a dramatically different marketplace.

Think of where an older person’s perspective might change your product offering, or services you could provide. Are your plant tags available with large print, could an inexpensive voice message be embedded in your pots like the greeting card business does, so information could be transferred to the customer aurally eliminating the need to read tags.

And if semi-retired workers appeal to you, think of how you can redesign work cells, production flow, and equipment handling to enable an older workforce to work in the greenhouse efficiently.

It is certainly worth considering that the “Next Generation” in your greenhouse or garden center might not be the one you were initially thinking of.


Advanced Greenhouse Poly Reduces Temperature Without Losing Light

In order to reduce the high temperatures in greenhouses, chalk and shading paints can be applied. But what many growers do not know is that it is also possible to reduce the temperature inside the greenhouse with advanced polyfilms that reduce the temperature inside without influencing the light levels. This can be of interest for growers in areas with too much light.

Hyplast's new KoolLite+ greenhouse poly is specially designed for protected cropping in countries like Mexico, Kenia, Ethiopia, Vietnam and Saudie Arabia;  regions with a lot of light during the warm hot summers. The greenhouse  film contains a new type of pearlescent pigment (small pieces of metal) that have especially been designed to reflect solar heat near infra red (NIR), in combination with an improved light transmission (PAR).

Over the past years, Hyplast has ran several trials with the KoolLite+. "This new film is able to reduce the temperature inside a greenhouse with 6-7 °C compared to a regular not cooling reference film", said Tom de Smedt of Hyplast. He affirms that the biggest advantage of the film compared to shading nets or chalking, is the fact that the film still allows maximum light transmission inside the greenhouse. "KoolLite+ gives not only a lower temperature during the day, but also a better light diffusion inside the crop which also results in less stress and a better balanced crop. The crop will also develop more balanced with better quality and higher yields in return."

During the night and on cool and cloudy days the temperature in a greenhouse with a KoolLite+ cover is equal to a normal greenhouse film.

"Growers in Mexico are familiar with the results that can be achieved with the film, they have now installed the film on a large scale", said De Smedt. "Also growers in Saudi Arabia are now running trials. According to De Smedt, the reason that not many growers are using it that much, is because of the fact that not many growers are familiar with it.

The price of the KoolLite+ film is higher than a standard film, but according to De Smedt, the film also allows to save costs on other supplies like greenhouse coatings. "Chalking and cleaning are costly operations. It depends on the labour cost per country if a KoolLite+ film can contribute to less labour costs."

KoolLite+ is also available with extra options like Anti-dripping, UV-open, Sulfur resistance (SR), different light stabilisers or UV Blocking.

GGS is an authorized distributor for Hyplast. Contact GGS or all your greenhouse poly.

Original article

How To Encourage Interest In The Family Greenhouse

Image of gardening tools

There is a startling statistic: 70% of family businesses fail in the second generation, and 88% fail with the third generation. And yet family farms and family greenhouses perform much better than most family businesses.

I have done some research on this and come up with my theories on why family greenhouse businesses perform better in inter-generational models than other businesses. Below are best practices I have noticed both from growing up in a family business environment and from talking to successful multi-generational greenhouse families.

Family business survival stats

1. Start Them Young

Warren Buffet is said to have bought his first stock at 12 years old, and he will tell you he started too late. Most successful businesses have a passionate, dedicated leader. If you are a first generation business, you started because this is something you love, this is something you enjoy working, days, nights, and weekends. This is particularly true for greenhouse operations and other farms where you can’t just leave your crop and forget about it while you are on vacation. So if you hope to inspire the same kind of passion in your children start them young. My 6 year old begs to help me work - “working is fun” he says. Governments have instituted minimum age requirements for working in most businesses which hampers those of us in manufacturing from getting our kids on the factory floor, but greenhouses and farms have so far escaped much of this regulation. Take advantage of it; give your children the responsibility of growing two or three plants, helping assemble boxes, building a web site page, write a blog, or monitoring the heating costs.

2. Encourage The Entrepreneurial Spirit

There is something noble about stepping up to a challenge, taking a risk, and putting everything you have into making a success. There is courage and strength in accepting a failure and pushing through to a greater success. So whether it is a lemonade stand, an art sale, a plant sale at school, or offering to pull the neighbor’s weeds, encourage your children to do it themselves. Loan them the seed money (i.e. To buy lemons and sugar) or better yet have them take it from their allowance. Celebrate their successes, and allow them to learn from their failures.

3. Grow Their Responsibilities As Their Capabilities And Experience Grow

If your son started in the greenhouse in charge of growing 2 plants for his Mother’s Day gift, let him be responsible for watering a bench next. If your daughter started assembling boxes, next she could help load the plants in boxes, and after that she is responsible for picking plants for shipping. If you have started them young you have ample opportunity to make small increases that give added pride of accomplishment and also broaden their knowledge of the business. Greenhouses have lots of hands on opportunities, and lots of opportunities to see something accomplished, to watch the fruits of your labor grow (literally if you happen to be growing tomatoes, cucumbers, or peppers)

Young girl gardening4. Hold Your Children Accountable Like You Would Any Other Employee

My husband teaches high school in the city, and it is a frequent complaint of the teachers that parents are more interested in their children having an easier life than teaching them the consequences of their actions. Maybe because a greenhouse product is perishable, there is a greater sense of understanding that consequences are real. If your daughter is responsible to water the plants and she doesn’t, they die, there is no second chance. When your son does a good job debudding the mums, he sees the positive result in the beautiful flowers he has helped create. If you want success for your children teach them that what they do really matters.

5. Do Not Specialize Too Young

Remember your first childhood dream job? When my son was 3 he proudly announced he was going to be a dentist and a lion tamer. I wisely pointed out that could be a whole new market: animal dentistry! “No!” He was not going to have me changing his career aspirations; they were separate and both totally achievable.

6. Be Open To Change

Everything changes. What you have to do today to be successful in your business is almost certainly different than what your father had to do. Your children will run a greenhouse business in a different market place. This means possibly different shipping concerns, different production techniques, certainly a whole new realm of marketing requirements.

Family business succession rates

7. Give Them The Confidence To Choose Another Path

We have all seen it, the person stuck in a loveless job, putting in the hours out of duty or fear to do something different, but without any passion or real interest this is doomed to failure. My parents had 3 children, the other two have chosen careers outside of the business. Agriculture is not an easy life, and as many times as I have heard customers tell me they hope their children will one day take over the business, I have also heard someone lament that they hope their child takes another path. In the end what we all hope for is that our children pick the path that is right for them. So provide the opportunities to learn your greenhouse business without the push to join. If you have inspired a passion and your child takes up the challenge you will have a greenhouse business capable of thriving throughout the next generation.

Leigh Coulter is a third generation entrepreneur, second generation greenhouse manufacturer, whose childhood business ventures included, comic book production and sales, weed removal, selling sea shells by the resort casino entrance, and lemonade stands. While getting her business degree she owned and operated a gift service and retail store, before being lured into the family business.


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