Big Grower November 2019 - 3

Horticulture isn't exactly the most tech savvy of industries. Growers oftentimes are slow
to change, but implementing a new process, piece of equipment or technique can make a
world of a difference. We spoke with three growers to discuss what changes they've made
in production to improve efficiencies and remain profitable.
hen Hardscabble Farms, a tree farm
headquartered in Croton Falls, New York,
purchased greenhouse space four years
ago in Dover Plains, New York, the location
had been abandoned for 12 years and was in
desperate need of renovation.
The purpose of the new location - which
currently operates 12 acres of production under
the name Zino Nursery - was to produce
perennials, grasses, shrubs, evergreens, ferns and
other similar products for its wholesale customers.
Because of the nature of the work, they
knew finding labor would be a problem. " It was
very difficult to find people that are willing
to do a lot of the manual labor everyday, "
says Brady Cullen, general manager of Zino
Nursery. " Part of what we do here is 1-, 2- and
3-gallon-sized pot production. It is a lot of
lifting all day long. "
Another issue is labor costs. " We're not
even close to minimum wage, " shares Cullen.
" Because of our relation to New York City and
the high cost of housing, we have to pay quite
a large hourly rate to get even an entry-level
person in. "
After acquiring the space, a year was spent
renovating the greenhouses. The grower knew
automation would be necessary. " This is where
our relationship with Griffin comes in, " shares
Cullen. " We depend on Griffin for their high
level of service and industry expertise and
are grateful to have an industry partner that
is always there to help guide us through new
upgrades and expansion ideas. "
" The potting line was key, " says Cullen.
" When we purchased the greenhouses, our
intention was to renovate based upon the
potting line so that we could expand quickly
with the same amount of people. "
Zino Nursery began with 10 employees, and
with the implementation of potting lines from
Pack Manufacturing, along with upgrades along
the way, the company has since expanded and
still employs the same 10 people.
They purchased a whole system from Pack
Manufacturing that includes a soil mixer, an
incline conveyor and a potting machine. On
a good day, Cullen says they are able to do
upwards of 10,000 to 12,000 pots in a day, a
task that if done manually would only be able
to have an output of 1,000 pots per day.
Since the technology was new, Cullen says
they were unsure of how fast the line would
go. " We're currently at the stage where we have
blown through the original design because we
realized we could go a lot faster. "
He says the goal is to get to 16,000 to 18,000
pots per day. He adds, " It might not be that
we're on the potting line all day. Because it's 10
people, some are on the potting line and those
same people are going to do orders for the day.
When we have to do shipments, those same
people are loading the trucks and trimming
back the shrubs. "
Cullen explains that it is quite beneficial for
the staff to increase output because every single
member is capable of doing every single job.
" We try to rotate what the employees are doing
all day to avoid that complacency factor, " he
says. " No one wants to be on a potting line for
10 hours a day. "
According to Neal Farnham, a regional
sales manager with Griffin who works closely
with Zino Nursery, Hardscrabble Farms has
a unique vision and is in a place of growth
within the marketplace.
" As labor costs continue to rise, sometimes
adopting costly technology and automation is
an option that growers have to take into serious
consideration. When we have customers who
have this vision of incremental growth, it is
really a bright spot to work with people like
Zino Nursery, " says Farnham. " We capitalize
on that to make sure that the customer is
successful because it's a rare breed that has
that kind of vision. "

Big Grower November 2019

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

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