Supply Chain Facts

Photo: Allison Krieg

This August, Green Club growers announced the biggest expansion in the company’s history. This expansion will add 30 acres and 250 new jobs over the next three and a half years, expanding their facilities and manpower. A.D. Founded in 1968 by John van Winggerden, Green Club growers have called Oberlin, Ohio, their home for over 50 years. Today, John’s son, CJ van Winggerden, and his son-in-law, Scott Gibberc, are working as co-executives, and they still consider Oberlin to be their home, with more than 120 acres[200 ha]of home.

These additional jobs will increase the company’s workforce to more than 1,150 people. According to Van Wingden, “many [these new jobs] It will be at the executive level, including operations, IT, senior management, administration, management, development and more.

The Green Club Growers Expansion Plan was created with the support of Lauren County Community Development, JobsOhio, Team NEO and the Ohio Department of Development.

“It was great to work with all these organizations,” said Giesbrecht. “It was a real team effort from some very emotional and committed people.”

Planning produces good results

Asked how he managed to do such a job in the face of a shortage of manpower that worries every industry, including ours, Gisbrick said his success was linked to the Green Club’s long-term plan.

Giesbrecht says that the long-term goal is to make this expansion a success. Before the cholera epidemic hit the United States, greenhouse growers were already working with their suppliers on this expansion.

“We had a master plan for many years,” said Giesbrecht. “Without that master plan we would probably not have been able to achieve our goals through Kovid, but all of our suppliers knew what we were suggesting.” Green Club growers were able to warn their suppliers of their expansion plans when Kovid started to look bad, and they agreed. Giesbrecht went on to describe the company’s relationship with its suppliers: “Having those good relationships has helped us to do this.”

Director of Development Marcel Bunekamp oversees the growth of the Green Club growers.

Favorite photos of green circle growers

With more than 120 acres[120 ha]of greenhouse space, it is one of the largest greenhouse projects in North America.

According to Giesbrecht, it was one of the reasons for the company’s regular expansion.

“We usually expand every 12 and 18 months, and that really fits in with that.” However, these standard expansions are around 5 to 6 acres, so this 30-acre expansion is much larger than normal.

What led to the decision to make this expansion project a bigger goal? According to Giesbrecht, although Green Club growers have been growing steadily for some time and are planning to expand, the company, like many other greenhouses, has been forced to stay home thanks to the epidemic and unprecedented growth. Demand for pottery and houseplants is growing and the green circle growers’ portfolio of indoor and outdoor products is expanding. In addition, as the Green Club growers expand into the digital marketplace, they will be able to gain more customers.

“Our distribution of bricks and mortar will take over 30,000 stores and now make it accessible to millions of consumers in the United States and beyond in Canada in the future,” Giesbrecht said. Growing up, Green Club growers needed a big expansion plan to continue their growth.

Green Club growers include not only their expansion plans but also long-term plans at all stages of their careers. Green Club Growing Director Marcel Bunekamp plans to grow orchids in 2025. Bonnecamp is still important not only because of the long-term production of orchids, but also because of the consistency and reliability that comes with such an accurate plan. Boonekamp grows in this process by saying, “I like planning – it’s a very strict program.”

Sustainability issues

Green Club growers are committed to sustainable development practices, and this commitment is reflected in their expansion plans. “Sustainability is not a story,” says Van Winggerden. “It’s in our DNA, and it’s an important part of every decision we make.” In a press release announcing the expansion, Green Club Growers stated:

Green circle growers practice many sustainable growth practices, including water recycling. “We are re-using most of our water now, but we are trying to take it to the next level – how we manage our water and move our resources out of there again,” said Boonekamp.

With this expansion, Green Club plans to implement rainwater harvesting, reservoirs, tray recycling and wood heating systems.

Plant propagation

“The extra acre will be used to meet the needs of our existing crops,” said Van Winggerden, who owns an additional 30 acres[30 ha].

These crops include indoor and outdoor plants, especially the company’s outdoor storage lines and indoor tropical flow lines. The line-up includes Anthurium, Sucultents, and Bonsai, as well as orchids, which are especially popular with green club growers.

Growers in Aublin, Ohio, Green Club grow an ever-increasing portfolio, which includes orchids, tropical, leafy, succulents, annual, hydrangeas, flowers, moms, and ponies.
The green circle growing orchid is so automated that only one person is affected five times during the more than one year of orchid growth.

Strong structures

Emphasizing the importance of the company’s partnership, Van Wingderden said the Green Club would work with Prince USA to build the greenhouse included in the new expansion. Prince builds Velo-type greenhouses, featuring scattered glass and shadow curtains. As Van Winggerden explains, the goal is to “make sure we have the best possible environment for our plants, so Prince was a good partner.

Green Club growers will return to their new long-term partner PL Light Systems for the new greenhouse lights. Located in the dark skies of northern Ohio, it is especially important for Green Club growers to have a partner who believes in providing quality lighting technology.

The gardener depends on the technology. The facility in Auburn looks like an Amazon warehouse with a greenhouse. Boonekamp says that all the technologies they use will help them to have a high level of consistency in their products. When it comes to their orchids, for example, their sophisticated technology helps to ensure that every orchid has the same quality, height and face. Their goal is to look at the orchids grown by green circle growers, the only difference between the plants is the color.

Teamwork makes it all work

Of course, no matter how much planning or automation or technology a company uses, it is the backbone staff. “Our staff are just some of the best out there and we are very happy that they are our teammates,” Gizbercht said.

Green Club growers plan to invest in their team at the new Leadership Academy. Van Winggerden said: “Our greatest asset has always been our team and will continue to do so. “We want to invest in them.”

“On this trip we could not worry enough about the importance of our team,” says Giesbrecht. “And we’ve got some great team members outside of the horticulture industry and outside of the horticulture industry who can teach CJ and me when we go to a very complex environment.”

Green Club growers not only continue to invest in their team, but also invest in innovation, develop customer experience, and develop their careers professionally.

Both Van Winggerden and Gisbercht Green Club are proud to be family-run, and therefore always look forward to moving forward with the business being a good place for the next generation.

“The expansion will be good for the next generation. We are a multi-generational family, ”said Van Wingderden.

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