Jurassic Rex Begonias
Breeder: Gary Crook, founder of PlantSmith
Location: Hubbard, Oregon, U.S.A.
About The Breeder: PlantSmith Founder Gary Crook started in Horticulture at DuPage Horticultural School in 1969. His experience working at various well-known large growers led him to start his own business in 2006, PlantSmith Nursery. Creating a niche for himself in the marketplace, Gary sought plants that no one else was growing to set himself apart from other local greenhouses. He chose Rex Begonias and decided to start his own breeding program, which ended up “addicting and a whole lot of fun!”
He put all his potential releases through rigorous testing to make sure they were up to the challenge of commercial production. Gary’s efforts paid off as Ball Ingenuity sought out new production methods to increase reliability and supply leading to many awards, including the “Cool Product Award” in 2021 at TPIE for the Jurassic series overall.
What were the market challenges? Reliability, innovation, and performance are the pillars of strength for the Jurassic Series. Flexibility with the three Rex series Gary developed was also key:
- Jurassic for large leaves that make a dramatic statement in 6-in. or gallon pots.
- Jurassic Jr. that size up just like the regular Jurassic with 40% smaller leaves but a lot more of them on very well-branched plants.
- Jurassic Dino series that is perfect for 4.5-in. pots that answer the call for a smaller-sized plant that still has the outstanding performance of its counterparts.
Why did PlantSmith choose to partner with Ball Ingenuity? Gary chose to trust Ball Ingenuity with his plants, as he felt Ball Seed was a driving force within the industry. Anna Ball personally introduced Gary to the Ball Ingenuity team at a California Spring Trials event many years ago, and “the relationship was born!”
What were the results achieved? New propagation methods have allowed the Jurassics to be widely available at regional rooting stations such as D S Cole, Ball Tagawa, Moss Hill, Wenke, Sunbelt, WestCan, and George Sant to serve the US and Canada, which has allowed the series to expand.
Canary Wings Begonia
Breeder: Groovy Plants Ranch, LLC
Location: Marengo, Ohio, U.S.A
About The Breeder: “The Ranch,” as it is affectionately called, is a plant-lover haven. Beautiful plantings and quirky decorations fill the 2-acre property. “We want our customers to feel welcome and inspired when they visit,” says owner Jared Hughes. He started Groovy Ranch Plants when he was 19 with nothing more than a few cuttings of succulents. Today, the one-man-business annually produces 25,000 succulents, 2,500 cold hardy cacti and 10,000 perennials.
What were the market challenges? Having any new, unique product without network knowledge presents a challenge. Locating someone to give you the time of day and overcome the trust factor can be very difficult. Jared heard from the industry about the integrity of Ball Seed and his regional sales representative introduced him to Ball Ingenuity. After the initial conversations, a road map was created – an expectation of what will come in return. From concept to introduction, to selling the idea to customers. It seems straight forward, but it is difficult to convey the message effectively.
Why did Groovy Plants Ranch choose to partner with Ball Ingenuity? Others would not listen. Ball Ingenuity gave Jared the time, did the leg work, and took his company seriously. Ball Ingenuity put the plant into the position it deserved. Integrity was the biggest part: The trust factor. Seeing the steadfast direction in a private family-owned business for 100+ years with a great reputation in dealing with partners and genuine collaboration with him and his plant.
What was the solution Ball Ingenuity provided and how it was implemented? Through Ball Ingenuity’s introduction of Canary Wings Begonia into summer industry trials, the plant’s popularity was realized. It led to many industry performance awards in 2018, including the Classic City Award at the Trial Gardens of the University of Georgia, 2nd Place winner in the hanging basket category at North Carolina State University, and it earned a very good rating by the Les Exceptionelles® Trials in Canada.
What were the results achieved? With the help of Ball Ingenuity, Jared brought the plant to market and created an impact in a meaningful way. It brought financial and professional benefits to him, his business, and his family. Canary Wings Begonia earned additional awards and recognition, including Retailer’s Choice Award at Cultivate’18; a finalist in the Greenhouse Grower Medal of Excellence Editor’s Choice Award in 2018; and finalist in the Greenhouse Grower Medal of Excellence Best Performing Variety 2019. Over 200,000 cuttings were sold in its first commercial release with an expanding supply chain planned for in 2020.
Intenz and Twisted Celosia
Location: The Netherlands
About The Breeder: Floritec strives to develop and market customized varieties that are quick and easy to grow, but also require less energy and chemicals. This sustainably-minded organization focuses on the environment, but also improved returns for its grower customers. Floritec anticipates consumer trends and market developments and is active worldwide in approximately 30 countries.
What were the market challenges? Floritec faced issues with supply chain setup as well as product culture issues. It was a struggle to find the correct growing recommendations based on the difference in growing habits between The Netherlands and North America.
Why did Floritec choose to partner with Ball Ingenuity? Ball Seed had a great existing relationship with Floritec through the Ball Mums program. This built up their faith and confidence in the Ball Ingenuity product management team. Ball Ingenuity proved it would strive for excellence with both products.
What was the solution Ball Ingenuity provided and how it was implemented? Both the supply chain and plant culture issues were fixed. The Ball Ingenuity team made visits to The Netherlands, and product manager Kelsey Fletcher conducted bi-weekly calls with the overseas team to solidify details. She is in constant contact on issues she sees coming from the production farm. Ball ingenuity offers the attention to detail to both the supplier and the customer in order to provide great products and happy relationships.
What were the results achieved? Finding the difference in growing habits between The Netherlands and North America was resolved by Kelsey building a strong relationship with their culture guild, as well as communicating and running side-by-side trials to reach a positive outcome. Once the Ball Ingenuity team and Kelsey took over working on the Floritec celosia, the program saw an increase of over 40% in sales.