Today's Grower Blog

Today's Grower - Greenhouse Blog

Bloemencorso Bollenstreek Bulb Parade 2015

On April 24th and 25th 2015, Holland will be celebrating spring in all its full glory! The Bloemencorso Bollenstreek Bulb Parade will take part in the ‘Dune and Bulb Region’ which is known as one of the Netherlands most unique areas. The Region is located in the agglomeration of cities called ‘Randstad’, between the cities of Haarlem and Leiden and only 20km from Amsterdam. Typical for this area are the beautiful North Sea beaches and the hinterland rich in historical bulb-growing cultivation.

The parade will start in Noordwijck, West Holland and finish in Haarlem, North Holland. The colourful parade is set to last for 12 hours showcasing a spectacular variety of flowers, the tulips, hyacinths and daffodils decorating various floats and luxury cars. On April 26th all the floats can be veiwed at the market square in Haarlem.

At GGS we're looking forward to seeing what is created this year!

10 Greenhouse Design Mistakes That Can Kill Your Garden Center

Garden Center Image

When you are designing a garden center there are many considerations you take into account: location, product mix, store layout, advertising, the amount of parking needed, employee training, etc.  And while no aspect of building a garden center is more important than another, the physical greenhouse structure is a critical component.

Mistake #1: Not including a greenhouse as part of your garden center design

Today, consumers looking for plants expect to be able to get them from a greenhouse.  Even the big box stores recognise this, look at Home Depot, Lowes, and Walmart, and you will see a greenhouse structure either attached to the big warehouse, or located in the middle of the parking lot. They do this because they know that shoppers associate being in the greenhouse with fresh plants, and the greenhouse environment helps keep the plants healthier. Independent Garden Centers have an advantage over the big box stores if you design your store around the greenhouse customers will recognise you as the grower, and associate your plants and employees as knowledgable horticultural experts.  Of course you need to follow through and have a staff that really do know how to care for the plants.

Garden Center ImageMistake #2: Leaving production greenhouse post spacing in the garden center

Garden center greenhouses are retail stores, not production greenhouses.  We have many successful garden center customers who are also superior greenhouse growers, but a successful garden center will keep production greenhouse space separate from the retail areas.  In a retail garden center post spacing needs to be as far apart as is practical.  This gives the garden center manager maximum flexibility in designing store layout for traffic and for spectacular presentations. Posts can be removed by using widespan greenhouses, or by placing trusses under the gutter to carry the load a greater distance than in a typical production greenhouse, or by using both. As a garden center owner you are also less concerned about keeping uniform post spacing across the greenhouse than a commercial grower who will want to have a consistent post layout to enable more efficient production automation. By bringing your greenhouse manufacturer into the floor design process you have the best opportunity to design a footprint with your retail business in mind.

Mistake #3: Underestimating the value of a high roof

A-Frame, peak style greenhouses are very popular with garden centers because the design gives a wonderful high roof peak. But we also often hear garden center owners requesting lower under gutter heights in order to balance the height of the trusses for hanging baskets with a customer’s comfortable reach. But trusses can be lowered without effecting gutter heights, and taller greenhouses are not only better environments for your plants, they are better environments for your shoppers.

Greenhouse design with curb appealMistake #4: Underwhelming curb appeal

For retail businesses making the outside of your building appealing is a must. It has to be inviting, aesthetically pleasing, and most important: customers need to be able to see your products from outside. To draw customers in, the best structural advice we can give you is to make sure your front wall is glass. Glass frontage provides the ability to set up window displays to attract and invite garden shoppers.

Mistake #5: Forgeting to Include Customer Flow Mapping in the Design Process

Retailers need to ensure clear customer pathways to all areas of your Garden Center in order to make sure merchandise will move.  Customer Flow Mapping is a popular method merchandisers use in laying out how and where you want your shoppers to travel from place to place within your Garden Center.  By including customer flow considerations in the construction planning phase, inside walls can be properly placed to be an intregal part of managing the shopping route, as can extra wide areas of the greenhouse designed to provide space for focal point garden center displays.

Mistake #6: Not Planning the whole site from the start

It is not unusual for a greenhouse construction project to be done in stages, especially when starting out.  But if your initial construction plans are not going to be the final design, don’t ignor your future dreams when discussing the shape, style, and layout of current buildings. Proper planning at the beginning will save you money and ensure space is fully utulized.

Garden center with open doorsMistake #7: Too few doors

Garden centers are not like other retail stores, garden centers need to move trees in and out, and extra large shopping carts filled with live goods and garden supplies need large doors.  You don’t want the entrance to your garden center to be clogged with prospective shoppers. Make sure your greenhouse design includes plenty of doors to move your customers where you want them shopping

Mistake #8: Making your aisles too narrow

Bigger shopping carts mean more products in shopping carts.  Big garden center shopping carts need big garden center aisles to maneuver. If you got into horticulture through a traditional production greenhouse education then you have focused on production efficiencies, and maximizing production space, but in retail the customer experience is more important than production efficiency. Don’t sacrifice large aisles in order to make room for more benches.

Mistake #9: Building the same greenhouse garden center as everyone else

Dare to be different! If your greenhouse looks like every other greenhouse you have a tougher job differentiating your garden center from your competition.  Greenhouse manufacturers can provide you with numerous options for making your garden center unique.  Everything you do in retail is to make you memorable; getting the customer in the door is step one, keeping them coming back is the rest of the journey.  The greenhouse structure, is a subtle part of the overall feel your shoppers will associate with your garden center.  Make sure you stand out and give people something to talk about.

Mistake #10: Rushing the time

Planning takes time, and planning a successful Garden Center deserves the time to do it right.  Get your greenhouse manufacturer involved early in the planning stage so you can look at options and plan your Garden Center right.


Zurich Canada Launches Drone Insurance Package

Property and casualty insurer Zurich Canada announced on Wednesday that it has launched a new drone insurance product.

The drone insurance package “closes an important coverage gap” for companies already making use of drones, Zurich said.

Drone imageThe new package, developed in partnership with UK-headquartered Global Aerospace Underwriting Managers Limited, will help customers across a range of industries take advantage of the risk mitigation and cost saving opportunities available through the use of Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS), commonly referred to as “drones,” Zurich said in a press statement. The package also “closes an important coverage gap” for companies already making use of drones in their operations, the insurer reported.

“Using a drone for any commercial purpose is considered an aviation activity and will therefore fall under the broad aviation exclusions of most general liability policies, should a drone cause damage or injury,” Zurich said in the statement.

The new policy provides companies with both first and third-party coverage for a variety of risks:

  • First-party property coverage – for theft or damage to the drone and any ground equipment used to operate it, or any electronics or components (payload) carried;
  • Third-party liability coverage – for property damage and bodily injury caused by the drone, premises liability at locations used in connection with scheduled aircraft, as well as medical expenses; and
  • Additional coverage extensions, which may include malicious damage, system hacking, and personal injury.

“Zurich’s customers in Canada will be the first ones around the world to have access to this unique insurance solution, thanks to the sophisticated regulatory environment governing the use of drones in Canada,” said Urs Uhlmann, CEO of Zurich Global Corporate Canada, and leader for Zurich’s drones program in Canada.

Following the Canadian launch, Zurich’s drone insurance package will be rolled out globally on a country-by-country basis, based on local demand and the sophistication of the regulatory environment governing drones in each country, the statement said.

Transport Canada has laid out very specific guidelines for how to obtain a Special Flight Operating Certificate (SFOC) for commercial drone operations where the weight of the drone exceeds 25 kilograms (kg), or where the drone weighs between 2.1 and 25 kg, but the operation can’t meet all the safety conditions for an SFOC exemption.

Previously, insurance coverage for drones was only available through specialist aviation insurers. Now, Zurich Canada’s customers in the areas of energy and communications, such as telephone companies and broadcasters, and others, can access a “simple risk transfer solution” along with training tools and information for drone operators. Other industries include oil and gas utilities, mining, security, agriculture and media/entertainment.

Drone image 2In conjunction with this new product, Zurich will be offering services to help companies manage and mitigate drone-related risks. These services include access to online operations and safety training, risk management tools developed specifically for staff flying drones, regulatory updates and unique risk insights and expert advice.

From a regulatory standpoint, unlike many other countries around the world, requirements for the commercial use of drones in Canada are quite sophisticated, Zurich said. For example, in the United States, it can be very difficult to obtain a Certificate of Waiver or Authorization and Special Airworthiness Certificate from the Federal Aviation Administration for any non-military use for a drone, Zurich Canada reported.

By contrast, Transport Canada has laid out very specific guidelines for how to obtain a Special Flight Operating Certificate (SFOC) for commercial drone operations where the weight of the drone exceeds 25 kilograms (kg), or where the drone weighs between 2.1 and 25 kg, but the operation can’t meet all the safety conditions for an SFOC exemption.

Risks around drone use need to be carefully managed. The SFOC application asks for details such as the purpose of the operation, dates, times and locations of the flights, the boundaries of area where the drone will fly and safety plans. Generally speaking, Transport Canada forbids operation of drones over or within built-up areas of cities or towns. Additionally, the Canadian Privacy Commission has also explicitly stated that drone operations are governed by Canada’s privacy laws, including the federal Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act.

“The market for drones is evolving rapidly and more and more companies and industries are taking advantage of the benefits they offer. We see great potential for drones to reduce risk for workers by taking over dangerous tasks, among many other applications,” said Uhlmann.

Market analysis from The Teal Group predicts that the global UAS market will nearly double over the next 10 years to over US$91 billion, largely driven by expanding civilian use.



Win An Apple Watch!

Win An Apple Watch! imageWe've just launched a contest where growers and garden center retailers can enter to win an Apple Watch!

At GGS we're proud of our world-class design, manufacture and installation of commercial greenhouse structures since 1979, incorporating new technology along the way.

Previously we’ve been working on using Google Glass for future greenhouse innovation, and for our last contest we gave our lucky winner a DJI Phantom Drone. We’d like to continue this with our new contest to win an Apple Watch, so don’t miss out on your chance to win!

Apple WatchWhat could you do with an Apple Watch if you won?

  • Ideal for growers, as it’s more portable and water/moisture resistant
  • Allows growers access to information without needing to take out their Apple devices
  • Communicate seamlessly with other Apple devices
  • Greenhouse growers can easily communicate remotely with staff using only their voice (transcribes voice to text messages)
  • Greenhouse growers can take urgent calls or simply communicate with their team whilst still doing things
  • Voice commands allow growers to perform actions hands-free, such as adding a reminder by just speaking. “Remind me to call Joe tomorrow at 3pm”, which is automatically synced to their Apple devices
  • Greenhouse operators can increase productivity, receiving instant alerts about tasks and appointments right on their watch
  • Greenhouse growers can make sure their plants and crops get the right treatment by keeping up to date with the weather on the go
  • Automation companies may create apps for the Apple Watch, allowing growers to perform actions like closing their vents directly from their watch!

Enter To Win button


5 Planning Steps For A Successful Greenhouse Expansion

In the past we've talked about retrofitting your greenhouse. When retrofitting your greenhouse is not the answer a new construction expansion may be more what you need. Planning a construction project from the ground up involves a lot of details that you may not deal with on a regular basis. Don’t hesitate to use your greenhouse manufacturer and greenhouse construction company to help you with the planning process. GGS is here to help. Here are a few pointers to help you start:

1. Establish size and allow for future growth

Since building a new greenhouse is generally determined after production demand is assessed, this is the logical first step for establishing the size of the greenhouse footprint. Consider beyond your immediate needs and plan to allow for some future growth as well if possible.

2. Plan for optimum growth

Now consider the environment you need for optimum plant growth, and talk to your GGS rep about how extra under gutter height, additional ventilation, glazing material options, and the different styles of greenhouses can improve or detract from the environment you want.

3. Allow space for expansion of existing facilities and systems

Next you need to look at your existing facilities and systems. What is sufficient for this expansion, and what will require more capacity. This includes shipping bays, warehouse space, office space, environmental controls, and of course the heating system. You should always get a qualified greenhouse heating engineer like Niagrow to review your current greenhouse heating and your expansion plans.

4. Check your regulations

With most greenhouse builds you will need to talk to your local building inspector. Every year more regulations are put in place - make sure that your proposed expansion follows all laws and town regulations. For instance, if your building is too close to your neighbor’s land, you may have to file a variance with the town.

5. Accommodate more warehousing and storage space

If you are expanding your production space, consider that you may need more warehousing and storage space to accommodate this extra yield. Most greenhouse growers ask us to build these areas out of our greenhouse structures. Widespan greenhouses are particularly good for shipping areas.

If all this is starting to sound like too much… we haven’t even gotten into all the greenhouse options. Consider hiring us to project manage your expansion. GGS has been building greenhouses all over the world since 1979. We are here to help.


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