A contractor's guide to working with nurseries
New homes and commercial developments
are popping up everywhere. Where there’s new construction, there’s a need
for landscaping. Filling that need are growers such as Kelly Louis, general
manager of Ruppert Nurseries in Laytonsville, Md. From Louis’ perspective,
contractor-supplier relationships could benefit from increased communication. He
shared his ideas for improving interactions with the American Nursery and
Landscape Association (ANLA).
ahead. “As soon as you sense a need or are awarded a bid, give growers
some lead time. Right now, there’s a shortage of mature trees and demand is
exceeding supply,” Louis explains.
nurseries. “Only about ten percent of our customers ever visit our
wholesale nursery. There are reasons contractors should schedule a visit. First,
they’ll develop an awareness of what’s available. Secondly, plants vary
greatly. Even within good quality material, there are differences. Contractors
know their customers better than I do, so they can select the most appropriate
plants for the site,” Louis says.
about markdowns. “There are many grades of material. Even with deer or
weather damage, a tree can still be healthy.” Contractors can save money on
this material, if they know to ask for it.
your technology awareness. Using digital photography, Ruppert Nurseries
speed the buying process. “We can e-mail an image of a tree to a customer
within 24 hours,” Louis notes.
“Our product’s average time to market is five to six years. Since there’s
often little communication between growers, landscape architects and consumers,
we have to hope we’re growing trees people want, that far in the future,”
Louis says. He would love to have landscape architects tour his facility and
offer feedback. Louis also encourages contractors and growers to quiz each
other. “Discuss pruning and planting techniques,” he says.
With some extra effort,
contractor-grower relationships can be greatly enhanced. It’s a winning
situation for all concerned: Growers serve the market better, contractors get
the plant they want, when they want it and at the best price. Joining forces
benefits customers too, with a beautiful end result.
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