When it comes to running a commercial greenhouse, I have found that there are three general categories people fall into. These are not character defining traits or leadership defining but simply a frame of reference for decision making. Even within these three types the lines blur, because in order to run a successful greenhouse all are critical and each owner, manager or supervisor will make decisions involving every topic. This post is less about defining yourself and more about being self-aware of your strengths. If you know what your strengths are you can supplement your weaknesses by adding other people to your team that are strong in the differing categories. By doing this your management team will be well rounded as a whole. As you read through think about where your strengths lie.
The three categories are Business, Engineering and Growing. As I was thinking through this post I tried to come up with an analogy of each but to me it made the most sense to look at it this way; each decision is made on a sliding scale and depending on what type of person you are the scale will slide more in favor of that category. Example: Recovering a greenhouse. The business person will look more deeply at the cost vs ROI of the expense and less at the details of the structure and plant specific changes that will occur. The engineer’s focus will be more on how the recover is executed and functionality of the greenhouse as a system will be effected, with less focus on ROI and crop outcomes. The grower looks at it from the plants perspective and reads the cultural changes that will occur, being less concerned about the expense and structure function. You can see where these lines easily blur. Each are closely connected to the next.
It may be obvious but I want to clarify my definitions in how I used the words "focused" and “less” when referring to each type of person. This really is the core of the post. It isn’t that the business person thinks the plant growing changes due to the new covering are not important, it’s that their natural frame of reference is based in the data that tells them how much and how quickly the recover will benefit the company. The same logic goes for the engineers and the growers but based in their natural decision making tendencies.
Being self-aware of where your decisions are based is a great starting point. Knowing your strengths gives you the ability to go-all-in on them. From here you can look to other people with differing decision focuses to build a team that may be less strong individually but rock solid as a whole. There is no right or wrong type and any of them can run a successful greenhouse business.
Deciding on a greenhouse structure.
The Gower: The grower is thinking about the environment that will be available to the plants. Less emphasis will be on the structure types, equipment models, and land costs. The growers input to the teams decision is what environment will grow the quality of plants needed in the time frame needed.
The Engineer: The engineer focuses on what structure and equipment will reach the goals of the business. They dive deep into the functionality and quality of each element of the greenhouse. The engineers input to the teams decisions is how the greenhouse will work, in the factory sense, and what it will consist of i.e. structure, equipment etc.
The Business Person: The business person is reading the market, building a cost of goods sold base and working out what the projected revenue can support in regards to the greenhouse expenses. Their input into the team’s decision is narrowing down the data to a point where the goal “framework” is known.
When the different categories are broken out like this it may seem like a, which came first the chicken or the egg, situation. But, these are not separate silos to be worked out individually. By having a concept and constant communication between the team the decisions will be made together, with each person’s work influencing the next.
Which are you, a business person, engineer or grower?