Greenhouses, Growers and ERP Technology

I have been in Austin, TX for over 13 years and this is my home now.  But one of the things I really miss about living in St. Paul, MN is gardening.  I had two rows of veggies and a flower garden.  I had a compost going and was very serious about it – and am proud to report that in addition to fabulous tomatoes and broccoli, my flower garden was awesome enough to make me a three time winner of the Macalester-Groveland Alley Beautification Award.  Yes, I’m very proud of that fact and yes, it was three times.

The cool things I learn!  Friday I was talking to one of my partners, Greg Lafferty of Practical Software Solutions in Concord, NC.  Greg and I are working together on an action plan for a trade show he will be attending coming up in July.  The show is for Growers and talking to him about the industry is fascinating…even for me…a three time winner of the Macalester-Groveland Alley Beautification Award.

Greg works with Greenhouses and Growers to help them be more efficient and profitable.  These growers have acres and acres “under glass” and supply Big Box stores like Lowes, Garden Centers, Retailers and Landscapers.  They usually specialize in something:  annuals, perennials, shrubs, etc. and ship their products by the cart to the garden centers, stores and landscapers.  They have a finite amount of “acreage” to work with and their product grows – anyone who has bought a tree understands that the price differential between a seedling and a 5 foot tree is substantial – so they are challenged with interesting inventory logistics.  From the growers point of view, as the product grows, the cost of “manufacturing” that product grows too – more space, more soil, more nutrients, more care.

On the other side, the buyers are also working under challenging circumstances.  This may be hard to imagine for my readers who are currently under several feet of snow – but think ahead to the promise of Spring.  A buyer at the garden center is looking at the forecast and sees that a warm, sunny weekend is on the way.  They place an order for annuals and perennials on Monday, expecting to get the order on Wednesday, so that when good weather hits and the shoppers visit the store, there will be a robust inventory to choose from.

Likewise a landscaper relies on a schedule.  They list what they are going to do for a property, schedule a time to do the work, hire a crew to be onsite to do the work and rely on the Growers to deliver the product on time to complete the job.

So for the Growers to provide great customer service, so that in turn the stores and the landscapers can provide great customer service, the supply chain has to be hitting on all cylinders – and this is what Greg helps the Growers do.

Little did I know, all those years ago, all that went in to making my garden grow.

For more on Greg and how he helped Metrolina Greenhouse, check this out: