Interesting article concerning Hines Nurseries at Grower Talks Magazine. Titled "The Rebirth of Hines" the article talks to Steve Thigpen, CEO of Hines Nurseries (then Hines Horticulture), and his long-time Hines colleague and friend Joe Gray. Ten years ago Grower Talks Magazine interviewed Steve about the direction of the business which at the time was rapidly growing and the first publicly traded nursery company. Over the last 10 years the companies sales have fallen, from $423 million to $130 million. In between a bankruptcy, a change in management, and now it's no longer publicly traded.Â As it tries to rebuild it's business one thing is clear, the nursery business is splitting into two different factions. One side dominated by box stores and their suppliers, and the rest of us and our suppliers. As Joe Gray say's, "The more data we get, the more information, the more planning we can receive, it helps us in our production and in servicing them (box stores). Personally, I think weâ€™re getting closer, we have a better working relationship, we understand each otherâ€™s needs a lot better. I think itâ€™s good. I think a good, healthy relationship helps us plan out our production and our business and partner better.â€
The box stores and their suppliersÂ must work more closely together. With the relationship becoming tighter it only seems logical that the independent garden center will have to search out alternative suppliers for it's needs. The days of independents and box stores using the same vendors seems antiquated. How can the independent distinguish itself from the box stores if it is selling the same plants as the box stores?
There will always be people who favor the box stores over independents. There are also people who want to support smaller locally owned businesses and make a point of not shopping at boxes. Then there is a whole group of people who shop at both. The best bet for the smaller independent is to service the second group. I have seen an increase in the number of people who want to shop with us not just because we have what they want, but also to support the local business. I think we are entering an era where many people are becoming more conscious of the ultimate cost of loosing locally owned business. If you don't shop there, one day they will be gone.