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April/May 2013 • Volume 31 • Number 2

Colorado Nursery & Greenhouse Association • Serving Colorado, New Mexico, & Wyoming

Catching Up With Changing Customer Habits


Today’s Challenging Retail Customers

11 Inventories Low as Demand & Prices Rise

14 Landscape Customer Demands Increase

22 Member Profile: BX, Inc.

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LooseLeaf April/May 2013

Our Mission Professionals growing for a better tomorrow... your growing resource. Cover Photo Courtesy of Colorado State University, Fort Collins, Colo.

In This Issue 4 Calendar & New Members


5 Classifieds & Advertisers

Landscape Firms Deal with Increasing Customer Demands

6 Board Message: Know Your Customers


17 Safety Corner: Report Injuries in 24 Hours & Save

Today’s Challenging Retail Customers

18 CSU Update: Hardy Perennials for Colorado Landscapes 20 Practical Business Management: QFD Creates Value 22 Member Profile: BX, Inc. in Brighton, Colo.


Inventories Low as Demand & Prices Rise

Board Of Directors Dan Gerace, CGG, President Welby Gardens Company, Inc. 303.288.3398 Bill Kluth, Vice President Tagawa Greenhouse Enterprises, LLC 303.659.1260 x205 Jesse Eastman, CCNP, Secretary/Treasurer Fort Collins Nursery 970.482.1984

Stan Brown, CCNP Alameda Wholesale Nursery, Inc. 303.761.6131

Terry Shaw, CCNP Harding Nursery, Inc. 719.596.5712

Steve Carlson, CCNP Carlton Plants 303.530.7510

Dan Wise, CCNP Fort Collins Wholesale Nursery 970.484.1289 dan@ftcollinswholesale

Sarada Krishnan, Ph.D. Denver Botanic Gardens 720.865.3679 Monica Phelan, CCNP Phelan Gardens 719.574.8058 monicaphelan@phelan

Publishing Info

Colorado Nursery & Greenhouse Association 959 S. Kipling Pkwy., Ste. 200 Lakewood, Colo. 80226 303.758.6672 or 888.758.6672 Fax: 303.758.6805 The LooseLeaf is produced by CNGA and Keystone Millbrook Printing Company 3540 West Jefferson Hwy. Grand Ledge, Mich. 48837-9750 Fax: 517.627.4201


Lynn Payne, N.M. Chapter Senator Sunland Nursery Company 505.988.9626 Sharon R. Harris, Executive Director CNGA 303.758.6672 or 888.758.6672

Ex-Officio Members Jim Klett, Ph.D. CSU Dept. of Horticulture & Landscape Architecture 970.491.7179

editorial Sharon R. Harris Executive Director Colorado Nursery & Greenhouse Association 303.758.6672 The LooseLeaf feature writer and editor is Tanya Ishikawa of Buffalo Trails Multimedia Communications Visit for classified advertisements, plant publications, upcoming events, a member directory, and much more!


Sharon R. Harris

Tanya Ishikawa

Dr. Jim Klett

Kim Koonce

advertising info Carl Mischka Advertising Sales Manager Toll-free 888-666-1491 Email.




New Mexico Certified Nursery Professional (MNNMCNP) Exam Friday, March 15 • 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Bernalillo County Cooperative Ext. Service, Albuquerque, N.M. This half-day exam leads to the prestigious NMCNP certification. It can be taken by anyone whether or not they have completed any of the four NMCNP seminars, offered in February and early March. For information on the next scheduled series of certification seminars on perennials, trees, shrubs, and landscape design, contact the CNGA office.

2013 Outreach and Member BBQs In keeping with a fun summer tradition, CNGA will be hosting BBQs around the region, including our biannual Denver BBQ. Locations and dates were not set by this magazine’s print deadline, so look for detailed information in an upcoming E-leaf. The CNGA staff and board look forward to seeing your friendly faces at member host locations around Colorado and in New Mexico between June and September. Contact the CNGA office today for sponsorship opportunities.

Commercial Pesticide Applicators Exam Prep Seminars Tuesdays & Thursdays, March 12, 14, 19, 21, & 26 • 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. CNGA Office, Lakewood, Colo. These seminars, taught by Colorado State University Extension Agents, are designed to help green industry professionals prepare for and pass the Colorado Department of Agriculture’s Commercial Pesticide Applicators licensing exam. Be sure to share this important training opportunity, offered exclusively by CNGA, with your peers.

new members AHT Label, LLC 11991 Ridgeview Lane Parker, Colo. 80138 203.605.5446 Jim Austin, vice president Founded 2013 Amy Miller P.O. Box 521 Akron, Colo. 80720 303.594.4033 Bill Kraemer 520 Peterson St. Ft. Collins, Colo. 80524 505.702.5496 C & S Transportation Services, LLC 1665 South Old U.S. 41 Vincennes, Ind. 47591 812.886.9784 Cargill SCO 2540 E. Drake Rd. Ft. Collins, Colo. 80525 970.482.8818 Claudia Morgan P.O. Box 215 Elbert, Colo. 80106 303.648.3554 Distinctive Gardens by Pete Moss, Inc. 2860 S. Vallejo St., Unit G Englewood, Colo. 80110 303.781.0479 Havenyield Tree Farm 331 NE 70th St. Oklahoma City, Okla. 73105 405.842.4644 Joe O’Connor, owner


Heartland Payment Systems 19836 Gertrude St. Gretna, Neb. 68028 402.502.1514 John Leonard 6056 N. 156th St. Omaha, Neb. 68116 402.551.3654 McLain Greenhouses, LLC P.O. Box 667 Estancia, N.M. 87016 505.384.2725 Phytologic Services P.O. Box 41 Masonville, Colo. 80541 970.215.5219 Joel Hayward, owner

Rick Kangas P.O. Box 5923 Eagle, Colo. 81631 720.949.6852 Vanessa Sandoval Fort Collins, Colo. 505.507.3908 Vista Scapes 4947 Chesney Rd. Las Cruces, N.M. 88012 575-317-6371 Zach Warner 6056 N. 156th St. Omaha, Neb. 68116 402.551.3654

Register for calendar events with CNGA unless otherwise noted. Photo Courtesy of Jordan’s Floral Gardens,

Tel: 303.758.6672 or 888.758.6672

Photo Courtesy of Colorado State University

Fax: 303.758.6805 Email: CNGA is the host of calendar events unless otherwise noted. For more information, registration forms, and directions to programs, go to and click on the Events tab to view the Calendar.

LooseLeaf April/May 2013

classified ADS advertisers

Help Wanted

Garden Center Sales Associate Silver Sage Garden Centers in Littleton, Colo. seeks full-time and parttime sales help at the family-owned garden center. Work will begin in April and finish in October. You will have daily interaction with both retail and wholesale clientele. Job responsibilities will vary depending on strengths of hires but sales will be the primary focus. Both full-time and part-time positions require working weekends. Please send resumes to Teddy Kane at To learn more about Silver Sage Garden Centers, go online to

American Clay Works & Supply Co. . . . 17 Baxter Wholesale Nursery, Inc. . . . . . . . . 5 Britton Nursery, Inc. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 19

Professional Gardeners Gardening by Tess in Denver, Colo. is accepting resumes for Professional Gardeners. Must have a valid Colorado driver’s license (with no DUI’s). At least two years of experience maintaining lawns and gardens required, and the ability to use equipment such as blowers, weed eaters, hedgers, pruners, and trailers. Must be able and willing to work physically outdoors under all weather conditions. Seasonal work from March to December. Send resumes and at least three references with at least one horticultural experience to For more information contact Tess at 303.550.4310.

For Sale By Owner

Turnkey greenhouse facility located in sunny Las Cruces, N.M. 56,000 Sq. Ft. Gutter Connect Greenhouses, all concrete/rolling benches, hot water and natural gas heating/evaporative cooling. 11,000 Sq. Ft. Warehouse/ loading dock / two enclosed offices/Large walk-in cooler. 2.92 Acres of land. 3 wells with16 acre feet water rights/10,000-gallon storage tank, also connected to city water, fertilizer injector and insecticide application systems, plumbed throughout. Established market. Trained employees. Price: $650,000. Contact Lynn Payne at 505.988.9626 or CNGA offers free posts of online classified ads to members, including items for sale or lease and job openings. For more information on the postings above and to see other current postings, visit, click the Resources tab and click on Classifieds.

Quality specimen trees

Carlton Plants . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 6 Circle D Farm Sales, Inc. . . . . . . . . . . . . 23 Clayton Tree Farm LLC . . . . . . . . . . . . . 13 Daniels Nursery . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2 DWF Growers Supply . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2 Fort Collins Wholesale Nursery . . . . . . . . 5 Harding Nursery, Inc. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2 Hash Tree Company . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 16 Jayker Wholesale Nursery . . . . . . . . . . . 13 McKay Nursery Company . . . . . . . . . . . 23



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Knowing Your Customers The times they are a changin’ ...So how do we change to fulfill our customers’ new demands?

By Dan Gerace CNGA Board President

We need to listen. What do they want? How do their actions follow in what they buy? Communication has certainly been facilitated with technology, but have our communication skills gotten better or worse? Faxes, emails, cell phones, and online ordering have all made our lives easier, but if you don’t occasionally follow up with an actual conversation, are you missing some vital information? Ask a good cross section of customers before you make major changes to your products or services. Typically, your true partners – the longtime and large customers – are your best barometer. Be careful not to allow that squeaky

wheel of a customer to be the only one that gets greased. The trend for immediate gratification is very apparent. We see more customers without any kind of a plan who want it now, in full color, fully grown, and perfect. Larger containers such as patio pots and hanging basket combinations are becoming more and more prevalent. Bam! Instant Garden! The economic downturn has curbed this trend slightly because the less expensive options in traditional items and smaller sizes keep the customers within their budget. We have to learn to balance what customers want with what they need. If you are not addressing your customers’ needs and having to tell them “no”, make sure you ask useful questions. For example, if you don’t have a requested product, ask how many they are looking for and how it will be used. Then, ask if you can offer a substitution. If so, make sure the substitution is truly appropriate and let them know how it differs from the originally requested item. Be careful not to only push items with large inventories, or items that are close to the expiration date. Building trust with your customers is paramount to return business; it takes a lot less effort to maintain a relationship than to establish new ones. Become customer oriented in every process you do. When we asked what we could improve on, we were told by a number of customers that quicker turnaround time on orders and order accuracy could be improved. We examined our process and found that because we accepted all orders, we would hold up trucks to deal with last-minute orders. This punished the customers that were better organized and ran down our employees by keeping them longer to process late orders. Now we have cutoff times and we follow them. To help with our order accuracy, we purchased a computer system enabling us to scan every item on the order after it has been pulled. The customer only pays for what we actually ship, and mistakenly pulled items are corrected before loading. The evolution of any organization is a must; if you don’t adjust to changing needs you will get left behind. Being proactive is also key. If you are always reacting to change, you will always be behind the curve.


LooseLeaf April/May 2013

Today’s Challenging Retail Customers

Jordan’s Floral Gardens in Fort Collins stocks a variety of hanging plants and pottery options.



Front Range Gardens in Broomfield stocks a variety of hanging plants and containerized options.

observed. “The customer demographics have changed with the average age of customers becoming younger. The generation that fueled Geraniums, bedding plants and victory gardens have aged to the point that gardening is no longer in most of their daily routines. There are less annuals sold than ever before and certainly people are more likely to shop at a discount or box store.”

As usual, this spring should be the busiest shopping time of the year for nurseries and garden centers. Other than that, business is not so usual as each greenhouse and nursery strives to meet the demands of its unique customer base and develop its own characteristic products and services. For all, customers under 40 challenge them to stock a more diverse yet low-cost product selection, provide more guidance on plant care, and offer more ready-made solutions for home gardening. “The customers are getting younger as I get older, but it’s always been the same median age in our store. Typically, our demographic is people who have their own places, as opposed to apartment dwellers,” said Kevin Weakland, the owner of Loveland Garden Center & Nursery in Loveland Colo. Phil Phelan, CCNP, has noticed something slightly different as the manager of Jordan’s Floral Gardens in Fort Collins, Colo. “I see an increase in singles and couples gardening where it seemed a few years ago it was more something that families did,” he

“Today’s customers have grown up with box stores being in the suburbs, where it used to be the garden centers where people bought plants, tools and gardening supplies. Customers are conditioned that a rose bush or flowering shrub should be $9.99 or 3 for $19.99,” Phelan added. Customers are more budget-minded. “Once the budget has been spent, they are done with their purchases for the year,” said Jerome Pfeifer, the

Jordan’s Floral Gardens in Fort Collins creates unique container gardens with succulents.

How to Satisfy Today’s Customers Popular products: patio containers, house plants, cyclemen, succulents, drought-tolerant plants, container vegetable gardens, potted herbs, new and rare or unusual varieties, seeds, pottery, gifts, decorations, hydroponics, organic fertilizer and insect control

trends carefully, a regularly updated website with useful information Attractive destination: a culture and product selection that differentiates the garden center from big chain stores and other competitors, a botanical garden type of environment that is a spring-like oasis during every season, a convenient and highly visible location with an exterior that draws people inside

Increased service: customer education through having knowledgable, experienced, well-trained, certified and friendly staff, resources for helping “We just let it be known that we are a customers minimize water usage, discounts and great great source of information, answers and deals Strategic technology: a well-used POS system that can offer customer rewards and send email updates to customers, a method (technological or manual) to track sales


quality products at the right price. When

we’ve helped a customer be successful, they trust us and continue to come back.” – Carly Firme, Bath Garden Center and Nursery

Recipricol partnerships: relationships with nearby businesses that offer similar or tie-in products, such as vegetable farms, landscape companies or worm composting farms, to develop a greater range of products and services for customers

LooseLeaf April/May 2013

owner of Front Range Gardens, a retail nursery and greenhouse in Broomfield Colo. “Customers use the discounters to purchase hard goods like fertilizer spreaders and composters.” They are more educated, do more research and are a lot more selective about what they buy, he added. “Customers know more about what they’re looking for through reading and investigating what is available in patented specialty annuals and perennials. However, many are misled as to the hardiness of perennials in this region. They know what they’re looking for when they come in. Sometimes we have it, sometimes we don’t, but you can be sure if we’re asked for it more than a few times we’ll start stocking it.” Like Phelan, Pfeifer is not seeing younger customers coming in, even as older customers lose their ability to garden or pass away. “We’re not getting enough of that 25 and older bunch. They’re a hard group to get the attention of and keep it. Most are apartment and condo dwellers to Bath Garden Center and Nursery in Fort Collins introduces student groups to plants. begin with, and the whole concept of gardening is foreign He sees more of the young generation hiring garden consultants to them,” he said. rather than landscapers. “I see more people who don’t want to “In the springtime, they come in with ideas and ask for input plant it. They just want to buy something in a pot and take it on what to buy. This has always been an information business; home. Within a month it’s dead. There’s just not that desire to that is why they come here. In fact, the questions are probably create,” he observed. lengthier and more involved. This new bunch knows a lot less Besides the Internet and consultants, today’s customers are about plants or planting. The older generation had some idea getting ideas on plant selection and hardscape ideas from because they did it with their parents,” the Broomfield commercial landscapes, said Phelan. “This has been good for businessman said. “We’ve come to a point where we have a sales of some plants and grasses, and certainly provides ideas generation of people who have never had their hands in the for both more diverse landscapes and some very repetitive dirt. We have kids come in not knowing what fruit comes from landscapes,” he noted. what plant.”

s How to Turn Generation “Y” into Your Customers

up an Internet kiosk on the store floor for customer research.

• Provide low effort, low cost or quick results: Develop • Develop family-friendly activities: Plan gardening plant delivery and installation services to respond to a classes and events for families and children. Organize a lack of interest or time in planting. Offer a great seed children’s gardening club. Install a playground or other selection for young buyers who are on a budget and area to entertain children. willing to start from scratch. Offer faster growing trees to address the young generations, preference for “instant • Donate to school activities and fundraising events: gratification” but be sure Build your brand and to let them know the name recognition with trade off in hardiness. “We are constantly updating our website young families by • Connect to them with quick answers: Use Internet marketing including social media such as Facebook pages, e-newsletters, informative web pages and online deals such as Groupons. Don’t forget mobile technologies that can reach them by phone and tablets. Set www.colorado

to try to provide useful information that helps customers make purchasing decisions. We would rather have our local website answer their questions then have a random Google search educate them.” – Nick Ozimek, Silver Sage Garden Centers

supporting school functions throughout the community. Special thanks to Mundy Miller and Carly Firme of Bath Garden Center and Nursery, Jerome and Karen Pfeifer of Front Range Gardens, Phil Phelan, CCNP, of Jordan’s Floral Gardens, Kevin and Debbie Weakland of Loveland Garden Center & Nursery, and Nick Ozimek and Teddy Kane of Silver Sage Garden Centers for their contributions to these lists.


He has also seen the consumer trends toward new varieties and smaller, container gardening instead of flowerbeds.“You don’t see the mass plantings that people used to do; they are doing baskets and containers. Customers also want whatever is new and different,” he said. Weakland of Loveland Garden Center said customers are drawn to his business because they want to spend time around the colorful, fragrant products. “Something pretty and blooming is always popular. People want to come in because we have created a botanical garden type of Silver Sage Garden Centers in Littleton offers a wide selection of shrubs and new varieties to address customers’ desires for the new and different. environment. We don’t even try to do it – it just is; it happens,” he explained. As far as what customers want to buy, he said there’s some “We’ve seen a continuous growth every year for the last 20 demand for high-tech equipment such as irrigation and years, and we continue to see growth in our sales. We’re just environmental controls but it is limited. Jordan’s has tried to on this train that keeps going and going. We just never give up, capitalize on permaculture and organic trends but this remains and always try to keep on top of customer needs.” a harder and smaller niche to fill. Though chemical gardening solutions are in less demand, less people are gardening than a few years ago so the organic and natural product demand doesn’t really fill the void. “We are seeing less bedding plants being sold with more people going to container gardening. Certain national and regional plant campaigns such as Plant Select® drive demand for certain plants,” said Phelan. “Obviously the vegetables, herbs and organics are still popular, with more colorful vegetables (oranges, purples, etc.) being used in culinary dishes.”

A young customer at Silver Sage Garden Centers in Littleton helps pull a load of plants.

According to Pfeifer, younger customers’ interest in vegetable gardening and producing food is driven by a desire to show a return on their investment in plants.

“Younger customers tend to desire instant gratification, so we’ve found having options of faster growing trees and shrubs seem to be preferred over the slower growing ones, regardless of how drought tolerant or hardy the tree or shrub is.” – Teddy Kane, Silver Sage Garden Centers


LooseLeaf April/May 2013

Inventories Low as Demand Prices Rise


Nursery inventories are at a low point and plant prices have risen, due to decreased plantings during the economic low point a few years ago. An increase in new construction activity may soon result in elevated demand for plant suppliers, while a continuing trend of producing diverse perennial and annual varieties in low quantities may affect growers’ abilities to fulfill large orders of single varieties. “These are times when having a supply chain that you can trust to be consistent and honest is very valuable,” said Jim Eason, the president and owner of Eason Horticultural Resources. “The one fact that I always live by is that success breeds success. Rely on past macro trends in sales of various plants, continue to

innovate with new varieties and marketing tools, and provide better, more reliable service in order to gain more control over the purchasing habits of customers.” Eason, whose company is a national broker serving retail garden center growers, wholesale greenhouse growers, nurserymen, and

Nomina Nurseries in Berthoud, Colo.



Nomina Nurseries in Berthoud, Colo.

landscapers, has observed most businesses up and down the supply chain trying to operate “at the highest level of efficiency and inventory control as possible.” At the same time, “With the onslaught of new introductions increasing over the last 10 years, it has become almost impossible for genetic originators, stock base farms, propagators, root & sells, and wholesale growers to gauge proper inventory and schedule the right numbers for most any given week,” he said, comparing the phenomenon to “psychological numbing” where wholesalers, retailers and the buying public become relatively paralyzed with too many options. “Try going to most retail outlets to buy for a mass planting of more than 25 of virtually any item to complete a nice landscape. The benches and displays usually consist of smaller numbers of a huge array of selections. The truly bread-and-butter, workhorse plants that would best serve most consumers are fewer and fewer and buried under the mountain of endless selections,” he explained. One advantage of new introductions, he shared, is their ability to garner premium prices, and avoid some of the price pressure affecting the tried-and-true plants competing with products from the big box stores and other regional competitors. “The bright spots are only created when a genetic originator or wholesale grower is able to position and properly introduce and highlight certain plants that can be firmly demonstrated to provide optimum and superior efficacy at the retail level. Sometimes certain plants can be hyped and remain in demand at a higher profit level than normal. However, eventually something else that offers true and better value comes to the attention of the market and displaces these items,” he said. Genetic diversity and the ability to produce large numbers of quality plants may become more restricted in coming years due to the inability of growers to get bank financing, he said. The availability of capital is becoming an ever increasing problem for many wholesalers, as banks constrict or eliminate credit to businesses that have not maintained healthy profitability. Banks are no longer accepting wishful thinking as a way of calculating profitability, Eason noted. “One of the biggest challenges is trying to guess the market, and keep in touch with what trees people are going to want,” said Fred Lehman, the nursery manager at Nomina Nurseries, a wholesale grower of trees in Berthoud, Colo. “You make your decision and go with it. Then, you hope the varieties people are asking for today are what they still want in three or four years when you are harvesting the material.”


Mother Nature is also a big factor in inventory uncertainty, said Lehman. For some businesses, the compounded difficulties of the last few years have led to liquidations and closings. “There’s been a lot of changes in the nursery industry in the last three or four years. That’s created opportunities for some nurseries if they’re able to stick with it and roll with the punches,” he said. Similar to national trends, Nomina’s inventory this year is “across the board a little bit lower than it’s been in quite a while,” because when the economy “nose-dived” three to four years ago, the nursery lined out the “bare minimum” of what it could afford to do and now its harvest is reflecting that, he said. “Since then, we have been slowly increasing planting each year, so inventory will start coming up a bit in the next year. It began to kick in a little bit last year; it just depends on the tree variety.” Nomina was long on its green ash inventory last year, due to the regional ash borer scare, which caused landscapers to shy away from that variety. Now, people are starting to plant that tree again, Lehman said. Eason said that nationally, “Woody ornamentals had been in oversupply, but starting in 2013 and beyond, shortages are already showing up. Some shortages will persist for many years, especially for higher quality production, in a number of categories. Shortages and tight inventory for annuals and perennials will be a constant challenge as demand spikes during good weather patterns for certain items, such as Divine NG Impatiens, and then falls with poor weather or new media scares about the U.S. economy.” The construction industry appears to be gearing up, and nurseries are making decisions on whether the future demand is certain enough to increase inventory levels. “Both residential and commercial construction are seeing a resurgence in virtually every part of the country, driven by extremely low borrowing costs. As long as inflation remains relatively low and the government continues to ‘goose’ the economy by printing huge amounts of cash, this trend will continue. But watch out if inflation picks up and interest rates start up,” the broker explained. Because landscapes are installed near the end of the construction process, there’s a lag between when you see new construction projects going on and when the nursery business picks up, Lehman said. “You can definitely tell when the new home market starts kicking in, because they are looking for particular trees for

LooseLeaf April/May 2013

front yards and streetscapes. You see a demand for two and a half inch trees, and we saw those sales increase a little bit last summer,” he added. Due to low inventories decreasing economies of scale at businesses, plant pricing is a bit higher this year. “I’ve seen prices go up across the board this year, anywhere from 5 to 10 percent. It depends on the tree varieties that people are asking for the most. One tree will have a 20-percent price increase, while another will stay the same. It just depends on availability,” he said. In Nomina’s catalog, which came out last fall, price increases were conservative at between 3 percent to 5 percent. Lehman expects they may have to go up a little more in 2014, based on what’s going to be available, what all suppliers are doing, and materials costs going up. “You have to follow suit with that to keep yourself in business,” he said. Even if there’s an unexpected shortage in certain varieties this year, the nursery doesn’t plan to raise prices more in the coming months. “It depends on what type of nurseryman you are. You can say, ‘There are none around and I’ve got 20 so here’s the price.’ We try not to do that; we don’t think it’s the way to build longtime customer relationships,” he commented. To ensure availability for customers, his recommendation to retailers and landscapers is to order early and make sure to stay updated on pricing changes.


New Guinea impatiens. Photo Courtesy of Eason Horticultural Resources.

“Five to seven years ago when we had the big housing boom, our catalog came out in the fall and by October we had all our orders, with only a few orders in the spring. When the economic downturn came, we had almost no orders in the fall. Purchasers waited until the last minute in the spring when they knew what they needed and ordered,” Lehman explained. “Now, I tell customers ordering early is the best thing, and pass along that it is possible prices are going to increase later. Otherwise, you’ll have multiple people who say they bid commercial jobs 18 months ago, and now when they’re ready to start them, half the trees are not available, and with the other half the price is not the same.”


Landscape Firms Deal with


Customer Demands

An improving economy and awakening construction industry are increasing customer demand for landscaping services. Landscape firms are looking for plant suppliers with strong inventories to satisfy residential and commercial customers, who have shifted their focus from the lowest priced landscapes to quality, money-saving and drought-tolerant outdoor environments.

For several years, Lifescape customers haven’t been able to get bank loans to finance landscaping, and no clients have paid with loan financing in the past four years, said Hupf. “People now have to use cash so they are focusing on their top priorities. They’re focusing more on their true desires of outdoor living instead of having extra frills,” he said.

“Customers have changed in a complicated way. They’ve become more budget conscience at the same time that they are more quality driven,” said Michael Hupf, the president of Lifescape Associates Inc. Established by Charles Randolph in Denver, Colo. in 1976, Lifescape provides landscape design, construction and maintenance services, mainly to high-end residential clients.

His firm’s projects are mostly smaller in size these days, and through his involvement in the national landscape association, he has learned that the average design/build project has decreased in size nationwide. On the positive side, the trend of smaller projects and a customer focus on top priorities “is driving client satisfaction higher,” he noted.

“Customer preferences have been evolving. During the boom times, it was definitely different, where people just wanted product in and were not so concerned about price. Their properties were investments and they took out loans to finance landscaping,” Hupf explained. “Then, in the construction recession of 2008 to 2010, it was all about price, price, price, and customers didn’t really care about quality. We think because that happened, some customers had experiences with companies that weren’t that quality focused and saw the difference.”

On the other hand, customers are relying on information from the Internet for landscaping ideas, and they come to landscape firms with more requests – possible and impossible. “They still want to use you as an expert, but they challenge you more than they used to, upfront and throughout the whole process,” Hupf said.

Michael Hupf of Lifescape Associates Inc. in Denver, Colo.

Photo Courtesy of Lifescape Associates Inc.

Commercial customers have also turned to the Internet for research and more frequently request hard-to-find plants or

The management team at JLS Landscape & Sprinkler, Inc. in Sedalia, Colo.

“It’s been enjoyable, having the ongoing customer relationships. We’ve been able to build some new relationships and strengthen longterm ones.” — John Reffel III, president of JLS Landscape & Sprinkler, Inc. “It was a good change,” Reffel said. “It’s been enjoyable, having the ongoing customer relationships. We’ve been able to build some new relationships and strengthen longterm ones.” He works a lot with property managers, who he said “have to be pretty smart business people to survive. They know that cheap is not the only direction they need to go, but all are still looking at the bottom line at end of the conversation. They all saw vacancies go up, so that’s been a concern for them. They know they need to sit in a meeting and justify what they have done this year. So, they are looking for ways to save money in their budgets.” Photo Courtesy of JLS Landscape & Sprinkler, Inc.

ones that don’t do well in Colorado, said John Reffel III, the president of JLS Landscape & Sprinkler, Inc. His company, established in Sedalia, Colo. in 1975, primarily installed landscaping on large properties at commercial and office buildings until 2008. When that market collapsed, JLS shifted its activities more to snow removal and landscape maintenance, replacements and enhancements for the same clients.

Saving money on landscape maintenance through lower water use has been a popular solution. The droughts of the 1980s and 2002 as well as last year’s dry year and the impending drought this year have made customers even more focused on watersaving landscaping. “Customers are seeking more drought-tolerant and native plants. They are asking about what plants can go in or out of the ground that will help them save money and still have a decent looking property,” explained Reffel, who works with

“Customers have changed in a complicated way. They’ve become more budget conscience at the same time that they are more quality driven.” — Michael Hupf, president of Lifescape Associates Inc. Photo Courtesy of Lifescape Associates Inc.



Photo Courtesy of Lifescape Associates Inc.

“There are three things we are looking at when we are buying from folks: quality, service and price, in that order. Price is not the most important; quality and service lead the way.” — Michael Hupf, president of Lifescape Associates Inc.

clients to determine how to keep an attractive look whether they decide to replace turf with drought-tolerant plants or rock or save water in other ways. “We are thinking about lots of alternatives, including whether we mow as regularly or leave the turf super long to help it survive,” he said. “For us, the challenge is trying to work with customers and educate them on what can be done. Irrigation has changed the most. We have to help customers understand how to hyrdrozone and use ET controllers, and calculate how quickly they can recoup the costs of the new equipment.” All the focus on drought tolerance as well as Internet-savvy customers has “caused a lot more research on my end,” Reffel said. “It’s caused our team to get better at recognizing drought tolerant plants and the types of soils they will survive in. In some cases, it’s required us to search harder within nurseries to find somebody who has certain varieties.” Hupf of Lifescape Associates said finding the varieties he and his customers want is just a matter of finding the right partners. “If you work upstream and go to growers, the material is there. You just have to be a little bit more creative to find the right source,” he added. Though customer needs have changed over the last decade, the Denver firm’s philosophy has never shifted from a focus on quality-driven landscapes. Hupf said, “What we have bought from our suppliers hasn’t changed. We’ve always needed highend material, and now others are expecting it, too. From our standpoint, there are three things we are looking at when we are buying from folks: quality, service and price, in that order. Price is not the most important; quality and service lead the way.” Still, in the commercial landscaping market, prices remain somewhat deflated, Reffel said. They are gradually coming up, but still less than what what they were four years ago. Established customer relationships and decreased competition has helped JLS Landscape & Sprinkler handle the pricing pressure. “Competition has declined. When a certain maintenance client adds on to an existing building or just wants to enhance their property, they typically won’t go to a new bid process. Instead, they will go through a negotiation process with us again. We haven’t cornered the market but bidding is less fierce,” he said. When a customer is ready for a landscaping project, he said, they now expect a quick response from the contractor, who in


turn transfers that time pressure to suppliers. “It seems not many of us have those six to eight month backlogs that we had in the mid-2000s. If you can’t deliver the landscape in a very timely way, in most cases two weeks, customers nowadays are looking around for another contractor,” he observed. “We may work on a redesign for six, eight or 12 months. Then, the decision gets made to do it and the direction from the customer is: ‘How quickly can we do this?’ When we didn’t have a lot of work in ‘08-’09, we could do projects quickly so things might have sped up. It’s a new environment of on-demand landscaping.”


Growers of Quality Specimen Conifers Selected Seed Sources of Pine, Fir & Spruce

877--875--8733 1199 Bear Creek Road Princeton, ID 83857

Fax: E--Mail: Web:

208--875--0731 LooseLeaf April/May 2013


Report Injuries in 24 Hours S ave


As soon as an injury is reported to Pinnacol Assurance, the claims management process begins. Reporting within 24 hours can reduce costs significantly. Early reporting can: • Benefit the employee through prompt, quality medical care

com. Click on “Report an Injury” under “Quick Links.” Remember, the more information you can provide on the first report of injury, the more opportunity for cost savings you will have. Be sure to have the following information available when reporting the injury: • Policy number

• Reduce the number of lost-time claims

• Federal Employer ID Number (optional), injured worker’s last name and social security number

• Reduce attorney involvement

• Accident date

• Help the employee return to work sooner

• Lower overall costs • Ensure a timely accident investigation to prevent future injuries

From Pinnacol Assurance

If you have any questions about reporting injuries, contact your Pinnacol marketing representative.

Employers and employees have to work together to make 24-hour reporting happen. Employers can only report a claim within 24 hours if the worker informs them of the accident. Employers need to be proactive in reminding workers of the importance of timely reporting. Employers can: • Conduct regular safety meetings to discuss the importance of reporting all accidents and near misses immediately. Today’s near miss is tomorrow’s injury. • Use posters and employee paycheck stuffers. Pinnacol Assurance provides these to our policyholders, free of charge. • Ensure your employees know who to report claims to. Sometimes an employee will wait to report an injury because it may not seem obviously work-related. For example, an employee could have symptoms of a repetitive motion injury for weeks before seeking medical attention. In this situation, the date of injury would be the day the worker informed the employer of the workrelated repetitive motion injury.

How to Report an Injury Report claims to Pinnacol Assurance within 24 hours by phone (303.361.4000 or 800.873.7242) or through our website Pinnacol. www.colorado



Hardy Perennials for Colorado Landscapes By James E. Klett, Professor and Extension Landscape Horticulture Specialist, Colorado State University

Gardeners and industry personnel can appreciate hardy perennials that thrive through the seasons and perform year after year. The following perennials have proven to be tough and reliable planting options for Colorado landscapes. summer. The flowers attract bees and butterflies, and are useful for fresh cut flower arrangements. It will tolerate a wide range of soils, including dry, infertile soils and prefers a sunny location. It is hardy from zones 3 to 9.

and Lindsey Greeb, Perennial Garden Student Coordinator, Colorado State University

Cotua hispida (Silver Cotula) is a low growing, evergreen plant with fine textured, soft, silvery grey foliage. It is useful in alpine or rock gardens, as an edging plant, or in containers. The plant grows slowly, reaching up to three inches in height and spreading up to one foot wide. In late spring to early summer, it produces tiny yellow flowers, which rise on leafless flowerscapes above the foliage up to five inches tall. It prefers a neutral to alkaline, well-drained soil and is hardy from zones 5 to 9. Heliopsis helianthoides ‘Tuscan Sun’ (Tuscan Sun Ox-Eye Daisy) is one of the shortest cultivars of Heliopsis available, typically growing no more than two feet tall and up to 18 inches wide. It produces yellow flowers around two inches in diameter from mid to late


Oenothera fremontii ‘Shimmer’ (Shimmer Evening Primrose) has lemon-yellow, delicate three inch flowers that bloom from mid-summer until frost. Flowers give way to interesting four-chambered seed pods. The plant has attractive red stems and silvery green leaves, which are very narrow compared to other primroses. Flowers open at dusk after the sun has gone down.

Plants form a mounded mat up to one foot high and spread up to 18 inches wide and prefer a low moisture site. It is hardy from zones 4 to 8.

LooseLeaf April/May 2013


Gardeners and industry personnel can appreciate Iberis sempervirens ‘Snowthimble’ (Snowthimble Evergreen Candytuft) is a compact, mound forming evergreen plant suitable for the alpine or rock garden, or as an edging plant or ground cover. The white, three-quarter inch flowers are produced in early spring, and this cultivar will bloom again when colder temperatures return in the fall. It prefers full sun and medium moisture, and is hardy from zones 3 to 8.

Phlox ‘Crystal Mix’ (Crystal Mix Garden Phlox) is the tallest of the garden phlox at the Plant Environmental Research Center (PERC) on the Colorado State University campus. Reaching up to four and a half feet tall and spreading up to three feet, it features white flowers tinged with pink that bloom throughout the summer. This phlox has shown impressive resistance to powdery mildew and the dark green leaves of this cultivar remained healthy while other varieties were heavily infected. Plants will grow in full sun to part shade and prefer some additional moisture. It is hardy from zones 3 to 8.

hardy perennials that thrive through the seasons and perform year after year.

Penstemon heterophyllus (Foothills Penstemon) is a perennial wildflower native to the Sierra Nevada foothills of California. It produces blue-violet one inch long flowers on stalks up to 20 inches tall, and clumps can reach 14 inches high. Leaves take on a purple hue with cold weather. This Penstemon can tolerate alkaline clay soils as long as they are not over watered or overly fertile. It will grow in full sun to partial shade in a more xeric site. It is hardy from zones 5 to 10.




By Kim Koonce, M.B.A. Trees & Shrubs Buyer Plant World, Inc.

Quality Function Deployment is an eight-step, systematic approach that assesses customer needs and wants through the customer’s point of view.

Quality Function Deployment Creates Value Ensuring customer satisfaction is often challenging. Misinterpreting customer needs is easy to do if you assess them through your own personal experiences, background or mental models. This affects your ability to identify subtle signs of the demands and needs of customers, and can result in missing important information and opportunities to develop profitable products and services. To further complicate the situation, customers have difficulty articulating their needs and deciphering how a business’s services or products can add value for them. One method of determining how to satisfy customers is Quality Function Deployment (QFD), an eight-step, systematic approach that assesses customer needs and wants through the customer’s point of view. QFD creates value by maximizing positive qualities, such as effectively stacking plant product to provide both customer appeal as well as efficiency and ease in stocking inventory. This approach is helpful to small businesses because it enlists customer demands to create necessary processes to meet those needs. The first three steps focus on identifying customer needs in relation to company goals and capabilities. Customer deployment is the first step of QFD, which helps determine what types of customers are critical to a business’s success. Nurseries can define their key customers by using a chart where identified project goals (such as increasing commercial business) are aligned with the types of products that help to achieve each goal (such as specific commodity plants), customer types (such as commercial landscapers), and customer segments (such as those servicing municipalities). The second step, voice of customer deployment, serves as a foundation for the rest of the QFD, as it provides a way to understand the true needs of the customer through analysis of spoken and unspoken requests and contextual experience. For this step, in-depth interviews and customer focus groups offer much more than the day-to-day customer comments about short-term problems, which can make it difficult to hear their long-term needs. Utilizing quality deployment next helps to prioritize customer needs and translates those needs into service measures. A special matrix


called House of Quality, created at a Mitsubishi Kona shipyard in 1972, can be used to define the relationship between a customer’s needs and a business’s capability to fulfill them. A “house” or table is filled with rows of customer demands or wants (garden décor, private consultations, long blooming perennials, etc.) and columns of how to meet the demands or satisfy the wants (setting up an area with pottery, training employees to be consultants, evaluating and expanding current plant selection, etc.), which create boxes (called rooms) to record ratings of the business’s current strengths and weaknesses. See the House of Quality sample on the next page. After gaining an understanding of customer preferences, the other five steps of QFD are: • function deployment where the business determines what operations would be affected by the addition of a new service or product to meet customer needs; • reliability deployment where the business identifies and prevents fail points in new business processes created to meet customer needs; • new process deployment where the business takes the newly found information from the above deployment functions and develops alternate processes to achieve the requirements; • task deployment where the business details the breakdown of the new processes and identifies responsibility and performance requirements to ensure customer requests are met; • standardization where the business institutionalizes successful performance of new processes through updating and coordinating job descriptions, standard operating procedures, employee training, vendor conformance, etc. In the words of Gary Hamel and C.K. Prahalad in their business management book, “Competing for the Future”, a company’s goal is “not to be led by customers’ expressed needs only, but to amaze customers by anticipating and fulfilling their unarticulated needs.” When a business is

LooseLeaf April/May 2013

Lampa, S. & Mazur, G. H. (1996). Bagel Sales Double at Host Marriott. Retrieved from works/bagel_qfd_at_host_7qfds.pdf

Customer: Retail Garden Center Shopper Shaded sitting area New designer/hybrid plants Private consultations Design capabilities Volume discount plan Long blooming perennials Large caliper trees (1 1/2” +) Garden décor

4 9 4 9 3 9 3 9 3 9 5 3 1 9 1 9 2 3 3

Raw Score

Relative %








Create area for pottery, statues, fountains, etc.

Pre-book and have delivered in digging season

Evaluate current selection and expand

Create volume discount plan for volume shoppers

Have list of trusted design subcontractors

Have one to two staff members be certified

Attend shows and get on new product mailing lists

Mayfield, P. (n.d.). Family Vacations and Quality Deployment – A Case Study in the Application of QFD. Retrieved from Example_QFD_Intro.htm

Set up a shaded porch area



Importance Rating

unable to meet customer expectations or define a product’s or service’s features, the customer may not realize the value offered. Quality Function Deployment is a tool that can be used to perfect customer satisfaction by delivering value through communicating the voice of the customer through actions and designs.



3 1

9 42 sum=281

14.90% 20.30% 9.60% 9.60% 11.40% 16.00% 3.20% 14.90%

House of Quality Example for Retail Garden Center To create a House of Quality, the steps are: • Identify the customer (retail garden center shopper in this example). • Identify wants/demands (WHATS in the rows, compiled from the voice of the customer). • Fill in the Importance Rating: 5 = most important to 1 = least important (in the first column). • Identify what products, services or processes meet demands/satisfy wants (HOWS in the column headers). • Determine business’s strengths/weaknesses with ratings correlating the rows and columns in “rooms.” (Correlate to what degree are the WHATS fulfilled by the HOWS: Strong - 9, Moderate - 3, Weak - 1, No correlation - blank.) • Calculate the Raw Score for each HOW column, by multiplying each of the strength/ weakness ratings by the importance rating for that row (adding together raw scores when a column has more than one number in it) and record at the bottom of the table. • Calculate the Relative %, by adding all raw scores to get a sum and dividing each column by the sum, and record at the bottom of the table. • Analyze the results: The greatest relative percentage score indicates the HOW/WHAT (customer characteristic) that should be given the highest priority. The percentages suggest relative weights recommended for each HOW/WHAT so that customer satisfaction is optimized. Note: The longer the list of customer requirements (wants) gets, the more in-depth the exercise will be. There is no minimum or maximum, as each organization’s needs differ; however, it may be beneficial to breakdown requirements and build more than one house. www.colorado



BXI Delivers Customer Service What is the story behind the founding of BX, Inc.?

BX, Inc. 12679 Weld County Road 4 Brighton, Colo. 80601 Tel: 970.372.8464 Fax: 307.316.0321

BXI is “Bert’s Express, Inc.” and was started in 1998 as a response to customer need. A subsidiary of Bert E. Jessup Transportation, Inc., a California asset-based trucking company, BXI was started as a truckload broker to assure customer service demands during seasonal highs, by developing relationships with other truckload carriers of reputable standing. Bert E. Jessup Transportation has been a refrigerated carrier specializing in transportation of horticultural products in California since 1967, and expanded its operations into Colorado at a major customer’s request. As the customer’s business grew, BEJT found that it could not provide all the equipment necessary during periods of seasonal highs. BXI was a vehicle through which the company could coordinate other carrier’s services, yet maintain the high standards of product care and time-sensitive, reliable service for which BEJT is known.

What is the background of the owner? Founder Bert E. Jessup is youngest son of Roger Jessup, a southern California dairy farmer and Los Angeles County Supervisor. Striking out on his own, the younger Jessup began his trucking company with hauling hay, milk, grain, and other farm-related products. By happenstance, he met a flower grower, who changed his life and the direction of the company. Starting out servicing just the one grower in 1964, BEJT began hauling cut flowers from the San Francisco Bay area into the Los Angeles Flower Market. The demand for transportation services grew rapidly, and by 1967, BEJT incorporated and specialized in the transportation of cut flowers, potted plants, and other horticultural related products. BEJT and BXI remain a family business 45 years later. Bert Jessup has retired, but wife, stepson, daughter, and son-in-law are still involved in both businesses, offering California LTL (less than truckload) and TL (truckload) service, and national truckload services to the horticultural and grocery house industries.

Driver Shane Carr from Bert E. Jessup Transportation, Inc. at BXI in Brighton, Colo.


LooseLeaf April/May 2013

Tell us about your staff and your property. The headquarters for BEJT are in Gilroy, Calif., with additional terminal facilities in Ventura and Carlsbad, Calif. as well as a terminal at BXI in Brighton, Colo. Collectively, 100 employees work to maintain customer satisfaction with our specialized services. William and Tracy Jeffries (daughter and son-in-law to Bert Jessup) operate the Colorado BXI/BEJT facility. Between them, they have more than 50 years of experience working for the company and the horticultural industry. Upon hire, drivers – both Colorado-based and California-based – undergo an extensive three-day orientation in Gilroy, then additional productspecific training in Colorado in order to understand the handling needs of our customers’ products, often extremely perishable and time-sensitive.

When and why did you become a CNGA member? With a desire to stay current with the needs and changes in the horticultural industries in Colorado, BXI joined CNGA in 2002. The company has found CNGA to be a great business tool, providing the staff with great networking opportunities.


How have changing customer habits altered the way you do business? The nature of the transportation business requires knowledge of customers’ industry trends. Evolution in customer product lines and technology require evolution in transportation equipment, technology and service lanes. The need for flexibility and openness to change are the only constants in transportation of the perishable, time-sensitive products found in the horticultural business.

What developments are helping you keep up with changing customer needs?

“BEJT and BXI remain a family business 45 years later.”

William Jeffries is the operations manager for both Jessup Transportation and BXI.

The use of satellite technology such as tracking, temperature monitoring and equipment condition tracking as well as cell phones have enhanced the company’s ability to improve customer service levels and product quality control through constant monitoring and immediate reaction to adverse incidents.


Colorado Nursery & Greenhouse Association 959 S. Kipling Pky, #200 Lakewood, CO 80226

Introducing the latest member benefits from CNGA Celebrating Colorado Businesses Grown’ n Colorado is an iconic consumer friendly brand that makes identifying products grown or created in Colorado a cinch. Colorado consumers have spoken and they’re eager to support local businesses and goods. Help your business connect with your customers in a way that really matters to them. Inspired Landscapes Plant Something is a great way to inspire home gardeners to get into the yard and add beauty, value and even improve the health of their community. Plant Something is a highly supported national campaign available only through CNGA to our members.

To learn more about how to participate in both Grown’ n Colorado and Plant Something, visit

LooseLeaf Back 11/12.indd 1

CNGA has a new look online!

11/13/12 2:17 PM

CNGA kicked off 2013 with two new websites. Designed specifically with members in mind, the new has a fresh, new look and streamlined functionality. Putting our best foot forward, the new site makes it easy for prospective members to learn the many great benefits to membership and join online. For current members the site puts the most valuable member-focused information at your fingertips. You can even manage your membership information and status online, register and pay for events and purchase CNGA products. Designed with the home gardener in mind, aims to educate, empower and inspire. From novice to sage, the resources presented on this public-facing site encourage all Colorado gardeners to get into their landscape and use CNGA members as their greatest tool toward success. A limited number of online advertising opportunities are now available on both sites. Contact CNGA directly to learn more. LooseLeaf advertisers receive discounts for online ads.


LooseLeaf April/May 2013

Apr-May 2013  

Catching Up With Changing Customer Habits, Today's Challenging Retail Customers, Landscape Customer Demands Increase, Inventories Low as Dem...

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