Hionis Greenhouses

2019 Greenhouse Greats - Potted Plants

The New Jersey-based grower relies on marketing and adaptability to keep the business thriving.

December 28, 2018

Back row: Brothers (co-owners): Spiro, Pete, Tim and Gerry; Front row: Parents (founders and former owners): Angie and Spiro
Photo courtesy of Hionis Greenhouses
Photo courtesy of Hionis Greenhouses

WHY THEY’RE GREAT: It would be easy to chalk up Hionis Greenhouses’ greatness to size alone. Centrally located in New Jersey, the family-owned grower-retailer has 14 acres of greenhouse production with another 65 acres outdoors. Second-generation co-owner Tim Hionis traces the company’s focus on ornamental potted plants back to his parents’ start in 1985. “We’ve just evolved with the times and the trends to what we do today,” he says.

Highlights of the company’s year-round production include Easter lilies and spring-flowering bulbs, summer color in hanging baskets and container gardens, and fall mums and ornamental kale. Winter brings amaryllis and the full 14 greenhouse acres devoted to a poinsettia crop that comprised 250,000 plants — from 4 ½-inch to 18-inch pots — for 2018.

Photo courtesy of Hionis Greenhouses

STAYING MARKET LEADERS: Extensive automation makes large-scale planting and other processes possible, but production isn’t the only thing the business has scaled successfully. Tim Hionis credits the company’s success to the strength of his family’s bond, growing quality product, staying on top of industry trends and maintaining the personal touch the company is known for. “We’re closely involved with all our customers, whether it’s a 25-store chain or a one-store mom and pop. We’re very hands-on,” he says.

An ability and willingness to change quickly keeps the company in sync with the marketplace. “Every three to four years, the way people purchase plant material changes. If you fall behind it’s tough to catch back up again,” Hionis explains. Years ago, production involved geraniums, New Guineas, hanging baskets and bedding plants. “Now [in] our spring range, we have over 200 items,” he says. The team focuses on bringing wholesale customers and end consumers the best in new varieties.

Easter lilies
Photo courtesy of Hionis Greenhouses

Embracing change extends to marketing. One part of the grower-retailer’s business targets small chains and grocery stores. Over the past several years, Hionis noticed these customers lumping ornamental potted plants into their produce categories. “We figured, ‘Let’s get out there.’ The best thing to do for marketing is get your name out there for name recognition,” he explains. So, in October 2018, the company exhibited at the Produce Marketing Association (PMA) Fresh Summit event in Orlando, Florida.

Hionis says that trade shows like PMA yield results and inspiration, as do event seminars, consumer and trade magazines, and the Hionis Greenhouses retail store. “It’s getting out there, being out there and not just wondering why one thing is working and the other thing is not working,” he explains. “Our main focus is that we strive for growing an exceptional product and having exceptional service. Our customers know we’ll be there when they need us.”