The phrase “teamwork makes the dream work” applies as much to relationships with outsourced service partners as it does to the unity of management and staff. We wear many hats as nursery owners and managers. While we are experts at a lot of things, we are not experts at all things.
Widening your service support network according to your nursery’s values can help you meet, and oftentimes exceed, your business goals. That empowers management and staff to focus on growing and selling plants.
From human resources and marketing to purchasing and operations, important service partnerships contribute to nearly every administrative facet of Loma Vista Nursery’s work. Service partners have a network of business connections and focused expertise on policies, trends and technologies that would otherwise require years of education, skill building and training.
More than just an extra pair of hands, our service partners are vital professionals with years of experience in their respective fields, and many within the horticulture industry. They have the knowledge, understanding and resources to support areas of our business that currently are not prudent for us to manage internally. This saves time, money and stress and is an investment in our bottom line.
Outsourcing to service partners whose values align with ours — and whose experience exemplifies trust and reliability — provides important administrative consistency, especially in an uncertain labor market. It is imperative that our partners’ work aligns with Loma Vista Nursery’s core values, which are on our website and used as benchmarks in all our business transactions.
Our “Production Centric” value is supported by our partnership with Harrell’s LLC, a chemical manufacturing company that provides our fertilizer. This partner has contacts in the trade that help us get answers to questions and solve problems. When we had a production concern, our partner was on a plane the next week to provide us with insight on what might be happening, then followed up to make sure there were improvements.
Also aligned with this value is our partnership with Spring Meadow Nursery to purchase and propagate Proven Winners plants. Spring Meadow offers attendance at Gold Key grower meetings, which provides information specifically on Proven Winners varieties. Our partnership provides access to their growers in order to better produce our own liners. This is really important to our business.
Through this partnership we are able to save expenses by producing our own liners as much as possible. When challenges arise, we can contact Spring Meadow’s propagator directly and get a detailed response on how best to solve issues.
IMA is our risk control partner. They conduct site visits to assess safety risks and advise us accordingly. Value-added resources are always welcome and IMA hits a home run.
They provide access to their online risk management portal, which hosts hundreds of training modules relevant to operations and useful in staff education. Using IMA's tools limits the need to search for other education resources or develop an in-house training program. This aligns with our core value of “Education Focused.”
Our “Service Driven” value is the heart of our operations. Industrial Sales Company is a key partner. They know our operation well, which saves time and benefits our bottom line.
Whether it’s as simple as getting an order ready in a hurry while we have drivers near their facility or helping us decide on good options to replace obsolete parts on our pump systems, we have confidence in Industrial Sales. They have the resources and knowledge to supply us with products we need to efficiently run our production operation. They coach our staff on irrigation technologies and pass on insights that create deeper opportunities.
Building a legacy of caring for plants and people as a family-owned company is an important value. Bukaty Companies provides us with the best and most affordable health care benefits for our employees, including our flexible spending account and continuing health coverage products. Knowing our employee handbook is managed by a company we trust provides peace of mind to both leadership and staff.
We recommend working with a human resources partner that is familiar with your state’s employment and health care requirements. Bukaty is located in Kansas less than an hour from the nursery. Along with informative webinars and quarterly newsletters, they keep us current on important government updates that pertain to employee health and wellness.
Over the years, we’ve worked with several in-house marketing and sales models. But sales is not marketing and marketing is not sales. We need our in-house sales team to have thorough knowledge about our plants and operations. Their responsibility is to build and manage leadership relationships with customers.
Every tactic connected with marketing the nursery involves the strategy of articulating our values. This translates into value-added services and opportunities that emphasize our nursery’s uniqueness.
Communicating our nursery’s personality and culture in a way that supports our mission is marketing. This is done in partnership with GreenMark Media and emphasizes our value, “Industry Expertise.” Through an all-team process of articulating our values and fleshing them out together, GreenMark led us down a path that laid the groundwork for telling our nursery’s stories with heart, meaning and thought.
GreenMark doesn’t issue unnecessary press kits or materials or “post on social media” without strategy, purpose and analysis. They’ve brought new ideas and experiences to us that are engaging and fun for our clients and staff. GreenMark is passionate about the industry and understands the entire chain of horticulture business because representing green industry firms is the core of their expertise.
We would be remiss if we didn’t stress the value of AmericanHort as a Loma Vista Nursery service partner. This relationship underscores all of our nursery’s values. As premium members, we have leaned into this partnership more times than we can count to acquire needed expertise to make a decision or solve a problem. Premium membership is important to our business because it opens up a vast network of AmericanHort experts and partners.
Recently, legal questions regarding payroll and farm labor contractor and H-2A relationships came up as part of internal transitions we were considering. This is not our area of expertise and navigating the H-2A program is tedious. Craig Regelbrugge, executive vice president for advocacy, research and industry relations at AmericanHort, put us in touch with JPH Law Firm in Washington, DC. Our question was answered that day and we were able to confidently make a decision.
KCoe Isom is a solutions-provider we trust. AmericanHort’s partnership with this firm provided us with information needed to solve problems created by COVID, including how to comply with the Families First Coronavirus Response Act and tools to make informed decisions about participating in the Paycheck Protection Program.
Marck Recycling ticks the box on our “Resource Conscious” value. They offer a single-source resource for more than 80 different recyclables, including lightweight containers, trays and shade cloth, office paper, cardboard, scrap metal, rebar, used tires and more.
To assess how best to work with us, Marck conducted an audit of materials we use and then developed a custom program. This dramatically increased the number of items we recycle, which otherwise were destined for the landfill. Marck allows us to be more sustainably responsible and to run a clean business that aligns with our core values.
While there may be some nurseries that have a certified public accountant on staff, I will guess that most rely on an outsourced firm. Our service partnership with KCoe is also in line with our “Resource Conscious” value. Tax rules are updated and changed frequently so it is important to partner with a firm that knows the rules and employ experts in our industry.
We partner with KCoe on our tax planning to ensure we have the best long-term strategy. They have tax law experts on staff who know the specific rules and deductions that apply to agriculture businesses. We also rely on this service partnership for financial consulting and various operational metrics, as well as full-service accounting.
KCoe worked with us to implement an automation system for our accounts payable. Combined with their monthly services, automation means we are able to efficiently have a one-person, in-house staff member who manages day-to-day business accounting.
Working with KCoe and having an automated accounts payable system in place shields us against employee turnover in that office, which is key to reducing risk. We don’t work overstaffed in accounting in anticipation of busy seasons. Nor do we work understaffed during busy seasons or need to hire temporary or seasonal accounting help.
Having the right service professionals on the team can make the difference between being completely overwhelmed and out of your league to working efficiently, effectively and successfully. Know your partner’s value proposition. Make sure it matches your business values and your nursery’s needs. Then, take advantage of the valuable services partners offer. We sing the praises of Loma Vista Nursery’s service partners because we know our success is tied to their success. They know it, too.
Explore the July 2022 Issue
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