Well...it's here -- the end of another year. Next month will
bring resolutions and new starts and more trade shows than we could ever
attend. But for now, all is peaceful and quiet. The Christmas crops are out the
door, for better or worse, employees are taking a much-needed break, your
ranges are empty and quiet...it's a great time to reflect. After all, a lot has
happened this year in our industry: Our largest trade association got a new
leader and a new name, John Holmes and OFA, respectively; America In Bloom
completed its first competition; we lost several long-time friends in Bob
Holley and Paul Ecke, Jr.; and our third-largest retail outlet, K-Mart, filed
for bankruptcy. Just to name a few things.
Yes, it has been a busy year, and if you haven't already,
now is the perfect time to evaluate what all of this means for your business.
Did you grow the right crops? Should you have added another range? Is it the
right time to buy a new bench system? Are you working with the right vendors?
There's a lot to consider, and we thought that seeing how some of your peers
answered these questions might help. Our way of doing that is the Annual State
of the Industry Report.
Most of you are familiar with the State of the Industry,
from having seen it in the pages of GPN the past six years, so I won't bore you
with too many of the details. Basically, we mail a 4-page survey to about 2,000
of your peers, tabulate the results and highlight the most interesting results
in the pages of GPN. In years past, the survey has taken place in early spring,
with the article appearing in May's GPN, but this year is a little different.
We thought growers would probably have more time to answer a questionnaire and
read the results at year's end instead of season's end. Hence the move of GPN's
Annual State of the Industry report from our May issue to the December one.
As in years past, the State of the Industry examines
responses based on a national average, a regional average and size of operation
to help you compare your business both with those of like size and with those
in your immediate area. In many cases, averages from the past five years are
also supplied so that you can better identify trends.
GPN started the State of the Industry, and co-sponsor Summit
Plastics began supporting it, because of the lack of good research in our
industry. The only other survey that can purport to cover our industry is
USDA's National Agricultural Statistics Service survey, which includes only the
top 17 production states and covers such material as fruit and nut plants and
Christmas trees, along with floriculture crops. We wanted to offer a survey to
our readers that focuses exclusively on our part of the market, one that covers
the entire country and one that is conducted by people who know the industry.
I know you will be comforted by this year's results. After
facing problems like water restrictions, the third bad spring in a row and
pricing pressures, I was happy to see this year's data look very similar to
last year's. There are some fluctuations here and there, mostly with production
costs and crops produced, but from my reading, we held our own this year.
One quick word of caution before I turn you loose to read
the report in its entirety, starting on page 10. This is just a survey. We did
not speak to everyone in the industry, and we did not verify answers. When you
read the survey, please take these factors into account. What you will be
reading is a snapshot detailing a closed group of people at a certain time who
are estimating numbers to the best of their recollection. We do not claim that
the averages presented will hold true for every greenhouse operation or that
you should evaluate your business based on these numbers. The reason we conduct
this survey is simply to let you know what's going on with some of your peers.
And, with that said, enjoy the GPN/Summit Plastics Sixth Annual State of the