Big Grower January 2019 - 6

American Color has deep roots in its
Christian faith, and thus, being fair,
being environmentally aware and
applying good business practices are
part of the company's mission. From
Ed Van Hoven's foundation Bountiful
Plant Ministries to partnering with
MPS to implement sustainable plant
production, the company aims to be
socially responsible.
" At the end of the day, the family
is all people of faith, " says Tom
Costamagna. " They feel being
blessed to be able to produce
plants that produce profit, using
sustainability allows them to
participate and be involved
in ministry. "
In addition, the company has
partnered with Ohio State University
to host eight international interns,
which have become a base layer of
the growing staff. The students come
from other countries, like China, the
Philippines, Peru and Guatemala.
" It's amazing as we go through the
process, " says Costamagna. " They
may not be making a whole lot of
money in American dollars, but $10
here is like $50 an hour for them. "
It has been gratifying for
Costamagna and the management
staff at American Color to witness
the interns' experience, growth and
future employment.
" I've only been here two and a half
years, and I've had interns that
worked here in our 30-acre facility
and now run an 80-hectar tomato
facility in South Africa. It is about the
individual and their aspirations. You
feel a part of their success by what
they learn and what we're able to
teach them in their short time here
at American Color. "
American Color recently added a pulverizing mill to its property to create its own
pine tree substrate.
Costco is American Color's largest customer and offers its shoppers premium items,
such as this holiday yule log.
From the grandiose impulse planters at
Costco to the 4-inch kalanchoe pots at the
grocery chain to the packs and quarts at the
contract level, American Color is growing it all.
No retailer is the same, but they all want the
same thing: high quality.
At American Color, plant quality comes in
multiple levels - from the structure itself to
the equipment used to the water and media
used in each crop.
The way the greenhouses are set up, they
are built on a 45-degree angle and can be run
from truss to truss, rather than gutter to gutter,
with shadows moving throughout the day. And
all 30 acres of the greenhouse uses black cloth
and boom lighting. This has allowed them to
manipulate light, which has given them an
edge in both spring and mum season.
" With our model, we like to be the first to the
marketplace, not the last, " says Costamagna.
" From a structural standpoint, the company has
only been around 20 years, but if you walked
into this facility, you cannot tell a different
between the greenhouses that were built three
years ago versus the greenhouses built in 1998. "
Likewise, when it comes to transplanting,
Costamagna says, " There's no question that
technology is the future. "
That being said, the company has
partnered with Ball Horticultural Co. and has
implemented its AutoStix machine. " We can turn
10,000 cuttings an hour, and with our model
being narrow and deep it works well, " shares
Costamagna. " When we're sticking geraniums
or Sunpatiens, they are in large volumes and so
we're not really changing the machine. "
To give an example, Costamagna says a
single hand stick line is usually composed of
16 people. With AutoStix, American Color has
reduced that number to four.
While the labor savings have been huge,
Costamagna sees the real benefit in the
product quality. " When you see these trays in
the greenhouse, every cutting has been stuck
exactly the same. From a growing standpoint,
this allows light, temperature and moisture to
be very even across the trays.
" As you increase your uniformity, you
decrease your shrink, " he affirms. " And you're
hitting or exceeding your targets. "
With plant quality being top of mind at
American Color, the grower recently decided
to make a huge leap in its media program.
" We went down the major change in
eliminating perlite from our media, " says

Big Grower January 2019

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Big Grower January 2019

Big Grower January 2019 - 1
Big Grower January 2019 - 2
Big Grower January 2019 - 3
Big Grower January 2019 - 4
Big Grower January 2019 - 5
Big Grower January 2019 - 6
Big Grower January 2019 - 7
Big Grower January 2019 - 8
Big Grower January 2019 - 9
Big Grower January 2019 - 10
Big Grower January 2019 - 11
Big Grower January 2019 - 12