Appleton, Wisc.-based grower Badger Boyz Greenhouses primarily grows perennials for wholesale in its 10,000 square feet of greenhouse space. And it’s run by one man: co-owner Paul Vanevenhoven. He says he does so because he is small enough to manage every aspect of growing.
“I don’t currently have any employees right now,” he says, “but I know if I was looking to hire people right now, I know it would be hard because it’s hard to find good workers.”
He is currently growing more than 500 varieties, and he primarily sells to landscape businesses in and around Appleton.
“My top 20 varieties account for a large chunk of my business,” Vanevenhoven says. “The tried-and-true varieties landscapers want — the basic calla lilies, the basic Black-eyed Susans — are what I sell a lot of.”
He adds that his competitive pricing — $4 for one gallon of basic perennials, more for specialty varieties — and locality make him attractive to landscape companies in the area who could look elsewhere.
“Most of my customers are local, so they can just stop in and purchase a handful of plants without having to put in a big order or having to hit a minimum for shipping,” Vanevenhoven says.
Vanevenhoven says for his business to be successful it’s essential to be able to order quality plugs for his plants, which is why his relationship with Emerald Coast Growers, the Florida-based grower, is so important. He says Badger Boyz began ordering plugs from Emerald Coast 13 or 14 years ago, and has started ordering more plugs from them as time has gone on.
“I do like working with them because they always have a good product,” Vanevenhoven says. “I get my plugs from a lot of different suppliers, and there are a lot of suppliers that make you wonder what the plug will look like when it [arrives]. Emerald Coast is really consistent in their quality.”
He adds that Emerald Coast makes his life easier when it comes to invoicing and pricing as well. As a one-man growing band, Vanevenhoven says he often doesn’t have enough time to stay up-to-date on invoicing and pricing.
When life gets especially busy, a reliable supplier gives Vanevenhoven one less thing to worry about.
“If I have an order for 100 plants, I can order 100 plugs [from Emerald Coast] and not have to worry about 20 percent of them not making it,” he says. “It does make a difference. I’m going to lean toward using a supplier like Emerald Coast that doesn’t have any problems.”