Strong bonds

Supplement - Increasing Profits - Grasses

A partnership between two North Carolina growers has forged a genuine friendship

August 3, 2016

Courtesy of Panoramic Farm

In the business world, there are vendors who are just another invoice number, but there are those who become true partners and friends. When it comes to the latter, such a rewarding relationship helps each business flourish. Panoramic Farm in Marshville, N.C., is blessed to have such a partnership with neighboring grower, Hoffman Nursery.

Panoramic president David Hyatt has been buying grass liners from Hoffman for about 17 years. And his relationship with John and Jill Hoffman reflects Hyatt’s company vision statement: “Our business is based on the pursuit of knowledge, long-lasting relationships built on trust, and partnerships that last a lifetime.” It’s a partnership that has morphed into a friendship, and one that has allowed both companies to make efficient and profitable changes throughout the years that benefit one another.

“Our company culture is to create partnerships with vendors, and we hold those dear,” Hyatt explains. “We started buying from Hoffman in 1999, and that relationship has evolved into a tremendous partnership.”

Hyatt turned to Hoffman when the market for ornamental grasses started to take off, not only because grasses were Hoffman’s specialty, but because they were a local company.

“But they were young and just getting started about the same time we did, and we just hit it off,” Hyatt says.

It also helped that John Hoffman had a horticultural titan for a mentor.

“John had a wonderful mentor in J.C. Raulston, and that precipitated the growth of grasses. They offer so much to the landscape, and then the landscape architects grasped the idea, and that’s really been a powerful gift to the industry,” he adds.

Throughout the years, Hoffman Nursery has refined their production to provide consistency and quality, Hyatt says.

“Hoffman’s crops are consistent year after year, and their plants perform very well,” he says.

The nursery also has learned to hone its timing, which allows Hyatt and his team to turn product more like a greenhouse operation.

“About 95 percent of the product we purchase from Hoffman is contract grown, and we have weekly target dates that outline when we want to receive their crops,” Hyatt explains. “They’re very accurate with that. They’ve mastered their crops on timing.”

Hyatt and his team are able to turn the grasses quickly. Panoramic finishes the grass liners in a 1- and 3-gallon container.

“It’s a product we’re able to turn pretty accurately on our end, and an easy crop for us to time on when we receive it versus when we actually finish it. We strive to have more of a greenhouse model here in turning our square footage,” he says.

Panoramic Farm can finish a 50-count plug planted in a 1-gallon container in four to six weeks, and finish a 32-count plug (depending on the variety) in a 3-gallon pot in six to eight weeks, Hyatt says.

“It takes a lot of planning and scheduling to make those turns, and grasses allow us to do that. It also helps that the folks at Hoffman are great communicators,” he adds.

Besides communicating production schedules, the two companies share trends and discuss market strategies.

“They have become what we call a business confidant,” Hyatt says.

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