Katy Furnas, Emerald Coast Growers:

US (FL): “We built a new shipping warehouse, improving our efficiency”

“We look at challenges as opportunities, striving always to work smarter instead of harder,” says Katy Furnas, Outside Sales and Support Rep for Emerald Coast Growers. The company is a Florida-based wholesale nursery, mainly focusing on ornamental grasses and perennials. As the demand for their products has been increasing, the company has been looking for ways to become more efficient. In this article, Furnas shares more on their latest projects as well as the recent popularity of grasses.

Emerald Coast Growers’ new shipping warehouse  

Production based on speculation
According to Furnas, consumers have rediscovered their love for outdoor gardening and creating living spaces. “As a result, the demand for our products has increased. Especially North American grasses have become popular, and more consumers are looking to these varieties for their yards, restoration projects, and public sectors. We are working with breeders to pull out some of the more aesthetically pleasing characteristics such as color and habit to make the native grasses a bit more ornamental for retail.”

Furnas says that their overall sales have increased each year and that they do not see it slowing down. “Emerald Coast Growers is unique in that we do the majority of our production based on speculation. We produce a speculative sales number and increase a targeted percentage of growth depending on the variety each year.”

Schizachyrium ‘Shining Star’  

Latest and greatest, and the tried and true
Furnas explains that their customers appreciate the wide variety of their assortment. “We pride ourselves on bringing the latest and greatest varieties to the market, while still supplying the tried and true staples consumers ask for. We have seen an increased demand in our infertile and sterile Miscanthus and Pennisetum varieties.  We are working closely with breeders to offer a selection of beautiful grasses suitable for the landscape. Our customers are loving them, and they continue to sell out quickly.”

Schizachyrium ‘Shining Star’   

The newest variety they have introduced is their own Schizachyrium ‘Shining Star’ TM (‘ECGSS’) PPAF. “This is one of only two variegated Schizachyrium currently in the marketplace. This eye-catching creamy white and green variegated variety adds interest to any garden. After years of testing and trialing, we are excited to introduce it to the industry and are certain our customers will love it as much as we do.” 

New greenhouse addition 

Improving efficiency
This year, Emerald Coast Growers has been busy with a number of expansion and improvement projects at their Milton, Florida location. Furnas explains: “This includes building an additional acre of perennial greenhouse space and an extensive new shipping warehouse. In addition, we added a 152 meter/500 foot headhouse. More than 2 hectares/4 acres of greenhouses will be tied into a main gathering greenhouse, joined directly to our shipping warehouse, and serviced with a monorail throughout the facility.”

New production facility  

“The increased efficiency creates a leaner process and benefits both Emerald Coast Growers and our customers. We still grow at more than one location, but the great majority of our starters will now undergo one less truck ride, one less loading/unloading/reloading cycle. This is an absolute win-win.”

For more information:
Emerald Coast Growers


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