Dan VanWingerden, the 26-year-old owner and founder of Green Legacy, has a clear plan for the business.
Founded in January 2020, Green Legacy is located in Orient, Ohio — a 20-minute drive from Columbus. The greenhouses themselves are facilities VanWingerden purchased from the owners of Cuthbert Greenhouse, another Columbus-area business.
What VanWingerden and his team have done since starting the business is mold it to make it the way they want it. They’ve also approached that by taking the facility they purchased from Cuthbert and improving the existing structure and bringing in their own equipment.
They’ve reorganized much of the facility, moving machinery, work stations and growing spaces around so they flow in a more circular fashion. The idea, VanWingerden said while guiding the tour, is to be as efficient as possible. Every room and every space has a purpose.
One way they’ve worked to improve efficiency is by largely growing product — during the tour, production was a mix of potted annuals and mums — on the floor vs. on benches. According to VanWingerden, the choice to not grow on tables creates more space for various plants and increases growing capacity by roughly 35%.
There are clear plans to build out the business as well. For starters, VanWingerden has plans to add a pond or another well to the property to increase the amount of water available. This is necessary, he said, because they don't have access to city water on the site. They also plan to install a water tank to allow the water to be treated before it’s run through greenhouse pipes.
They also have plans to evolve their customer base. Year one was 100% contract growing for other VanWingerden-owned businesses. (He previously worked at ColorPoint in Kentucky under his father, and his extended family all work in the greenhouse industry. They are, in fact, those VanWingerdens.) Year two saw the company target independent garden centers and landscapers; those two groups combined to account for 25% of the company’s business that year. Next year, VanWingerden said, the goal is to bump that figure up to roughly 40%.
One other topic VanWingerden touched on was labor. The first year, he said, they had to rely on a temp agency to hire employees. This year, however, word of mouth in the community meant they did not have to hire a temp agency to fill open positions. In the future, VanWingerden said they will look into H-2A workers as the company gets bigger and more labor is needed.