Eddie Barrow was nominated and chosen as a Top Finalist for Grower Talks’ Young Grower Award.  The finalists were asked to complete an essay answering the following question:

What NEW business qualities will today’s growers and retailers need to possess in order to thrive over the next 20 years? That’s the question we posed to our five bright, talented Young Grower Award finalists.

Read what Whiteford Greenhouse’s Eddie Barrow wrote to be chosen as a Finalist:

Growers always need to be developing new and cutting-edge ideas to stay fresh in the market. My main interest lies in plant development, combined with varied growing techniques. I find it valuable to track sales records as well as planting dates very carefully. This allows me to reassess a plan that’s ineffective. and it indicates what ideas are working so I may follow these same trends in the future. Replacing primrose with Lewisia, which has the advantage of being a long-blooming perennial and houseplant, is one such change I’ve made.

I merchandise “eye-popping” plants that will attract anyone driving by. Utilizing these plants, sales numbers have increased. I don’t rely on sale signs; I grow plants that sell themselves based on size, color and maturity. I display new, rare and exciting plants that draw the customer’s attention. I focus on the “wow factor” to compel gardeners to simply grab what draws their attention. Using this technique, I gain word-of-mouth advertising. The best recommendation a grower can get is one from a satisfied customer.

I like to merchandise plants in a garden-like setting. For instance, hosta are the No. 1-selling perennial. Why not combine them with their favorite companions? By displaying hosta with heuchera, ferns and other woodland plants, you allow the consumer to envision what their garden will look like. By constantly changing my displays I give the gardener new ideas that will enhance their garden season after season.

Over the past 12 years I’ve increased the number of available plants from 900 to more than 2,000, including perennials, annuals, trees, shrubs and rarities. Having so many varieties allows me to cater to every gardener. This large selection allows the consumer to utilize the entire growing season, from March to November. I can grow plants hard in the winter that will take late frosts to satisfy the early-bird gardener, as well as fresh crops for the late summer and fall blooming season.

Crop cycles are a grower’s best friend. Having the ability to manipulate plants is key to a successful business. Using the knowledge I’ve gained to influence blooming times, I’m able to accommodate my gardeners’ needs. It’s possible to supply my customers with plants I’ve cultivated to grow in the desired season. For example, with Lewisia, I can manage the light and temperature to affect bloom time. With rudbeckia, I focus more on germination and transplant dates along with specific timing of growth regulators and extended lighting for optimal bloom time.

The principles that launched my previous six generations into success cannot be ignored. My new techniques accompanied with the old-style friendly and knowledgeable customer service is what keeps the customer base coming back. Excited floor staff and a quality, truly well-grown product is the basis of a successful grower’s greenhouse that will continue to thrive over the next 20 years. -Eddie Barrow

Full Article Here: http://www.ballpublishing.com/GrowerTalks/ViewArticle.aspx?articleid=16159