Big Growers! Big Ideas! Big Solutions! By Tim Hodson

In February, Big Grower and Visions Group produced our first Executive Summit in Pacific Grove, Calif. At this event, 29 CEOs and senior managers from 21 of the largest growing operations convened for an open exchange of ideas on many of the critical issues our industry is facing.

In February, Big Grower and Visions Group produced our first Executive Summit in Pacific Grove, Calif. At this event, 29 CEOs and senior managers from 21 of the largest growing operations convened for an open exchange of ideas on many of the critical issues our industry is facing.

The meeting’s overall theme was “Succeeding in a Big Box Market.” Summit Plastics, Rough Brothers, Goldsmith Seeds and MasterTag sponsored the event.

During the 2 1/2-day conference, the growers heard different presentations and perspectives from experts both inside and outside our industry on such topics as sustainability; vendor-managed inventory and pay by scan; branding; consumer trends; and product development.

Learning from Others

There was also a “field trip” to Rocket Farms’ production facilities in Salinas, Calif., where they were producing a bumper crop of orchids. Attendees also had the opportunity to tour Dole’s manufacturing facility where prepackaged salads are produced, as well as two northern California wineries, to learn more about other industries that produce and market perishable products.

Chatting with Home Depot

One of the biggest highlights of the meeting was a “fireside chat” with Home Depot executives Scott Manning, vice president of merchandising for Garden, Dept. 28; and Don Blume, divisional merchandising manager for Garden, Dept. 28.

During this discussion, which was moderated by Visions Group President Dave Edenfield, Manning and Blume talked about how Home Depot plans to work with growers in 2008 and in the future. Manning and Blume also discussed the company’s views on the overall lawn and garden sector and some of the home improvement retailer’s marketing plans for the coming years.

Throughout the summit, attendees had many networking opportunities where they compared notes and swapped stories about their experiences.

Some of their side-discussion topics included defining sustainability, the certification process, purchasing the right greenhouse insurance policy and selecting the correct varieties to grow. The conversations were extremely educational, enlightening and entertaining.

Plans are currently under way for the 2009 Executive Summit — date and location to be determined.

Tim Hodson

Tim Hodson is the editorial director of GPN and Big Grower. He can be reached at thodson@greatamericanpublish.com



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