Stutzmans owner Ben Miller with his wife Marlene and son Justin
Photo courtesy of Ben Miller

WHY THEY'RE GREAT:

Ben Miller, the owner of Stutzmans Greenhouse, runs a business that controls all aspects of its supply chain. By growing their own annual and perennial crops under 7 acres of covered production space, and selling to garden centers they own, Stutzmans is largely a self-sufficient operation. Additionally, Miller says growing their own plants allows the business to better serve customers at their 12 locations across the state of Kansas.

Here’s how operating as both a grower and a retailer gives Miller’s business an advantage over the competition, in his own words:

BEN MILLER: “We’ve been both. We’ve been a wholesale operation where [it was] 75 percent of our [business]. We’ve always been in retail. But in the last six years, we’ve really made a transition to where we are [supplying 100 percent of our retail needs] now. For us, being a retail grower gets us more in-tune to what the end consumer wants. Because we have our own stores — 12 retail centers, 11 of which are open spring all the way through fall — consumer success is paramount. If they’re not [successful], we won’t be either. Knowing and handling the product line that does well for our area is crucial and something we pay a lot of attention to.

[The ability to control supply] has been a major deal for us as well. For the most part, if you’re guessing your production based on the past year’s records, that’s still a moving target. And [once] you get down to the end of the season, you may have a variety that you just didn’t get the calls for, and then you may be sitting on it. But with your own retail, you make deals and move it right on through. And if it’s looking good, you can always set a price and sell it. Our shrink has just virtually gone [to] zero. It’s incredibly low since we’ve gone this route.”