By: Clay Wilkerson
One of the most interesting aspects of my job is that I get the opportunity to visit a lot of different customers and see their operations in person. It allows me to see how they run their business and better understand what things are like in their world. The better I understand their business, the more likely I will be able to help them in some way because I have been exposed to the issues first hand that causes them pain. Some of these pain points are unique to a particular customer due to geography, climate, logistics or any number of other variables. However, there are many pain points that are common ground for most greenhouse and nursery customers. The most consistent ones are related to water, labor or energy.
At the top of the list would have to be water related problems. For some customers the problem is that they simply do not have enough water available at an adequate pressure to handle all of their needs. This is very common because most operations start small and gradually grow and build as sales demand it. The problem is that many times the growth of the business outpaces the capacity of the watering system and water then becomes a limiting factor (or pain point). For others the problem is not a lack of capacity but of poor design. It’s not that their well will not produce it or their pump is unable to pump it; it’s much simpler than that. They simply cannot push enough water through their existing pipes due to hydraulic limitations. Still others struggle with water quality and what to do about it. They don’t know whether to add something to it or filter something out of it but they know that the current state of affairs is costing them plant quality, time or money; in other words, causing them pain.
Running at a close second would have to be labor related problems. This really shouldn’t be a surprise given the fact that labor is typically the most expensive part of operating a greenhouse business. In some situations the struggle is simply to find people who will do the job that needs to be done at a salary that is affordable. Some times the issue is finding employees who will work for the company rather than just for a salary. For almost everyone, the most urgent labor issue is getting the most out of the employees that are already on the payroll. It’s not just about getting the job done; it’s about doing it with the fewest possible man hours. It’s about doing it with the greatest amount of efficiency and within the window of time available.
Certainly toward the top of the list would be keeping energy related costs under control. Again, no surprise here since energy costs are usually listed as the second most significant cost of running a greenhouse operation. The big culprit here is usually heating costs in the winter. Depending on the crop and geography, growers can spend tens, if not hundreds of thousands of dollars heating their crops so they are ready for market at the right time. The problem here is that because this is such a big issue, there have been many product marketers who have been all too happy to tell customers what they want to hear about their latest and greatest heating product. For those who take the bait, the problem is simply compounded; and so is the pain.
The good news is we want to lean into the pain with you by helping you find solutions to some of these common problems. In fact, the GTS staff exists to help BWI customers address these kinds of issues and more. We know that in a very real sense, your pain is our pain because we can only be successful to the degree that you are successful. That is why we have a staff of specialists that are trained to provide technical support for some of these pain points.
We hope you will come by the GTS booth at the Expo and say hello to our team. We would love to meet you and get to know you and your business better. Who knows, we might even be able to eliminate some pain!