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Supplement - Increasing Profits - Liners

Prides Corner Farms uses RocketLiners to launch its young plants.

August 3, 2016

Prides Corner Farms

Three years of research went into Van Belle Nursery’s search for a new alternative for the classic 4-inch liner. Van Belle’s team changed the configuration of the pot, increasing the size of the root mass, while improving drainage and providing more oxygen to the roots.

Diego Martinez, YoungPlants operations manager at Van Belle, says the changes reduce the growing cycle and keep inventory turning faster. Van Belle tested the new liner configuration themselves in their own production before rolling it out to its network of growers in January 2016 at MANTS. The configuration tweak resulted in 19 percent more lateral surface area and more soil volume.

Mark Sellew, president of Prides Corner Farms, has had success using the RocketLiners.

“I like the size and the ability to finish at 3 gallons with their liner,” he says.

The Lebanon, Conn.-based wholesale nursery grows more than 2,200 varieties on 350 acres. Quick turnaround and reliable service are hallmarks they strive to hit for their landscaper and independent garden center customers. Aside from the product, Sellew likes working with the people at Van Belle.

“In our business, that means a lot. It’s built on relationships,” he says.

Sellew has a long history with Van Belle, and he respects the company’s quest to improve, even the small aspects of plant production.

“They are a company that exudes energy and innovation,” Sellew says.

“They’re winners. You want to be around winners. They’re a company that is willing to change, willing to find a better way and look for the best in plants and partnerships. In my view, in our industry they’ve done that better than most.”

Aside from the innovation needed to overhaul a liner program, Sellew is continually impressed by Van Belle’s devotion to promotion – traditionally a weak spot for wholesale nurseries. The self-effacing nature of many horticultural professionals can be a detriment when marketing their products to the general public.

“We don’t promote our businesses well in our industry,” he says. “We tend to undersell the good we do, and we suffer because of that. They are a company that is an exception to that rule. We’re self-effacing. Just leave us alone, let us do our job. You’ve got to go out and tell your story before someone else does. They’re good at telling their story.”

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