Thank you for visiting our newly updated web site!
We have spent 2015 working very hard on improving some important aspects of EMP to serve you better. I wanted to quickly recap some of the highlights for you.
We have laid the groundwork to grow with you, and to do so more efficiently an faster. Thank you if you are already a customer, and please call us if you are new to EMP.
EMP has moved to a new location
EMP Focus - heartland growers
America’s Heartland has a rich history of agriculture and anyone who has driven across Indiana knows the familiar landscape of corn and bean fields. But among those vast fields is one of the largest and most modern full-service wholesale greenhouses in the State, adequately named Heartland Growers. This 40 acre facility started with just 2 acres in 1979 by Neil Van VanWingerden. In 1984, the business was purchased by the Gapinski family and under their leadership it has continued to grow and expand. They are now a valuable supplier to “big box” stores such as Lowes, landscapers and even have a wholesale shop where private wholesale companies can buy a variety of high quality bedding plants, hanging baskets and many other assorted flowering crops. EMP sat down with Heartland Grower’s employee Austin Kirtley to get his take on the reason they have become the largest grower in Indiana and number 54 on the nationwide TOP 100 grower list. According to Austin, greenhouses that are successful have their owners in the business – all the time. He says, “Our owners are involved in every decision and are not afraid to get their hands dirty. They come down and help unload the trucks and work right alongside us. Those work relationships are really important. We have a really great group of people here.”
That group of valued employees at Heartland Growers is about 50 to 60 people with seasonal help spiking up to 150. During our visit, it was clear that the staff is preparing for the rush of the upcoming spring season. Even though there is snow on the ground outside, the Heartland greenhouse is a comfortable 75 degrees and filling up with sprouts of early spring favorites like Pansies, Violas and the popular Senetti. According to Austin, “In January, when everybody’s cold, you start getting an itch. I was warned in my first year at Heartland that in the Spring it’s crazy and it is, but when it’s done you kind of say to yourself – I want to do it again!” While the spring rush brings excitement it can also bring some challenges. The biggest challenge according to Austin is logistics. He says, “The average driver is 55 years old and not a lot of people in the new generation seem to be going into trucking.” As a solution to this growing problem, Heartland Growers uses their own trucks and is now able to provide 95% of their shipping in-house. Another challenge Heartland has overcome is the labeling issue for all of their pots and plug trays. They use a color-coded system for all of their plug trays so the transplant weeks are easily identifiable and with the partnership of EMP, have utilized Bartender software and a printer system to print many of their barcode labels on-demand. Their ability to see challenges and face them head-on is an integral part of what keeps them at the top.
Staying on top and continuing to grow is on Austin’s mind again for 2015. He believes they are in tune with the market and are already preparing for what he thinks will be the hot sellers this year. He says, “More people these days want “instant” pots. These are ready-to-go plant and color combinations together in a pot or hanging basket. The Millennial generation wants easy and “immediate satisfaction” type gardening.” Heartland is preparing for this new trend and is also proud be one of the few greenhouses chosen to grow quality brands recognized in the market such as “Monrovia” and “Proven Winner”.
EMP is proud to be a valued supplier to this highly successful and competitive greenhouse. We believe they have what it takes to remain a major player in the Horticulture industry. It is clear that they value their employees, suppliers and customers as well as giving back to their small Midwestern community through flower fundraisers and even helping communities across the globe with efforts to promote a rubber plant business in Liberia. EMP certainly appreciates the opportunity we have with Heartland Growers and wish them a prosperous 2015 growing season.