Defining success

Departments - Outlook

October 25, 2017

In her 2017 State of the Industry column, “Shift gears or shut down? Know your limits” (, Leslie F. Halleck wrote that many greenhouse owners and managers are innovating and making money, but many others haven’t changed with the industry over a period of decades. “A reluctance to innovate, or a lack of funds to do so, has put many in our industry into what looks like a bubble frozen in time,” she wrote. The options, she says, are sometimes to embrace change or close up shop.

As each greenhouse operation evolves from its own definitive history, it must continue to define success in its own terms. Does “success” mean offering new varieties, leaving behind outdated equipment, or cutting losses and closing a business entirely?

This month’s cover story features Takao Nursery, a family-run propagator in Fresno, Calif., and how, through three generations of ownership, the business has had to redefine what it means to be successful. After taking the reins from his parents, Howard and Fumiko Takao, President Danny Takao directed, for instance, a switch to perennials and patented variety offerings. And since director of operations Lisa Takao-McCall has begun transitioning into the leadership role, she has, among other things, adopted prominent marketing strategies and worked with her father to refocus the company to produce almost solely drought-tolerant plants and California natives.

However, at Takao Nursery, as elsewhere, some things never change. “We don’t like to follow the pack and we care deeply about our customers,” Danny told me. “We believe in good old-fashioned service, quick responses and taking responsibility for our products.” Read more about Takao Nursery.

In this issue, you’ll also find stories that highlight popular plant varieties. Read which annual and perennial varieties performed well in trial gardens, and see which perennials "walk the walk," according to industry leaders. Another prominent theme in this issue is irrigation, which Dr. Christopher J. Currey and John Bartok explain more in-depth here and here, respectively.

Lastly, you may have noticed a perhaps unfamiliar bearded gaze on this page — if we have met, check it out — I’ve made it! But in all seriousness, GIE Media has granted Editor Karen E. Varga a sabbatical for her more than five years of dedication to the company. Karen will return in late December, but until then, you can reach me at and Assistant Editor Chris Manning to let us know how we’re doing.

Patrick Williams, Associate Editor

216-393-0315 | Twitter: @GIEPatWilliams