Here at Swanson Russell, we adhere to our brand identity of “real connection.” I am living proof of this brand in action. I work with many of our Green Industry clients and rightfully so, as my family owns a greenhouse.
My family owns Stuart’s Flowers & Produce in Central City, NE. My mom and stepdad inherited the business from his parents, and dove head first into the flower industry. It’s a seasonal business, with flower seeds arriving for the annual plants in January. We spend the late winter/early spring months planting, germinating, fertilizing and transplanting tiny seeds to arrive at seven, 150-ft long greenhouses full of brightly-colored flowers by late April. By the end of May, all of the flowers are sold and the greenhouses are closed up for the season. In Nebraska, it gets too hot in June and July to support the flowers without a cooling system in each greenhouse, so we use that time to clean out the greenhouses, disinfect all planting materials, order flowers and supplies, and get ready for the next year.
The greenhouse specializes in annuals and perennials along with potting customer pots. Customers drop off their flower pots to the greenhouse in late fall, and we talk with the customers about placement of the pots at their houses (whether they are in the sun or shade, whether they like red geraniums or blue wave petunias), clean out the pots, fill them with new dirt and plant flowers in them early in the season to grow into full blooming works of art by the time customers pick them up in early May. We quickly discovered this to be a booming side of the business as this year we designed and planted over 800 specialty pots for customers. For a family-owned business in a small town of only 2,600 people, the greenhouse attracts customers every season from the surrounding area and several surrounding states. We also coordinate with surrounding cities and the Nebraska State Fair to provide an abundance of blooming flowers for a town square or path décor.
Through the process of turning seeds into beautiful flowers, I’ve learned a lot about ordering seeds, fertilizer programs, different types of soil for different plants, and building greenhouse structures; all products and services that some of Swanson Russell’s Green Industry clients engage in. I’ve sat in the greenhouse and flipped through the Stuppy catalog to get ideas on the next greenhouse to build, and I’ve compared fertilizer programs from Everris to determine what is best for the plants that we carry.
To establish a “real connection” with your audience, you need to understand what they go through on a daily basis, the challenges they face and the priorities they have. This knowledge of things such as N-P-K levels, which plants do better in sun versus shade, the ordering process for things such as seeds and dirt, and understanding greenhouse designs has helped me to better understand our clients in the Green Industry and discover ways to better communicate to the end user, which is, essentially, me.