The seven habits of highly effective growers

They’re no different than the habits of other successful professionals.
April 11, 2017
Written by Melhem Sawaya
Grower Day features morning and afternoon sessions.
Grower Day features morning and afternoon sessions. FILE PHOTO.
May 2017 – This year’s Grower Day (June 21) is focusing on what we view as the top seven issues that are not just important but are essential to the long-term viability of any greenhouse operation.
I know there are many more issues but due to time limitations we only focusing on the following topics:
  • Which greenhouse operations will thrive in the year 2025?
  • Where we stand with LED lighting?
  • Greenhouse future labour.
  • Water treatment systems.
  • Ingredients of a successful family business.
  • Modern marketing.
  • Mechanization and effective efficiencies.
I will expand on these topics, but before I do I’d like to discuss the essential habits people need to effectively communicate and interact with other people, and these are the seven habits of highly effective people.

The common characteristics of highly effective growers are no different than the characteristics of successful doctors, engineers, carpenters or teachers. The principles are flexible enough to apply to any profession as long as you are aware of them and put them prominently in everything you are doing and, more importantly, share them with your employees and peers.

Here are the principles from the book “Seven Habits of Highly Effective People” by FranklinCovey ( and how we can apply them as owners, growers and employees working in an effective greenhouse operation. The “Seven Habits of Highly Effective People” program of FranklinCovey is one of the best investments you can make in helping employees achieve their full potential.

Habit 1 – Be Proactive: The most effective way to do a job is to do it right the first time. This requires research, observation and visiting other people who have already done this specific project to try to learn from their mistakes and their successes. The thriving companies are the ones that most of the time prevent problems and do not have many problems to solve.

Habit 2 – Begin With The End in Mind: With any task you are doing, know your goal and how you are planning to achieve it. Make your production schedule based on what your customers want, not what you like to grow. Always have the end consumer in mind. It is very important to work with your customers and ensure the end consumer is priority number one.

Habit 3 – Put First Things First: For any greenhouse operation to function properly, clear job descriptions need to be in place. It may be that one person is mainly responsible for a task, but all co-workers can help. Knowing what is expected and how to execute any function is essential for a smoothly running operation, especially if it is primarily a family business.

Habit 4 – Think Win-Win: For a business to thrive, everyone needs to be a winner, including the owners, managers, employees and especially the consumers. If everyone is winning, you have a recipe for long-term success and a company that will thrive even after the year 2025!

Habit 5 – Seek First to Understand, Then Be Understood: The key for growth in any operation is the distribution of knowledge, from the manager/owner to the employees and vice-versa.

Habit 6 – Synergize: Synergy is always prevalent in any teamwork operation and this is carried out on all levels. Nothing tears apart a company more than when everyone is pulling in different directions.

Habit 7 – Sharpen the Saw: Being successful means that you always have to look for a better way to run your operation. Search for the latest information – try it and adopt it or drop it.

Successful companies are always striving to do better. They are continuously looking for new ways to do things.

This has been the basis for Greenhouse Canada’s Grower Day over the years. The goal is to provide as much knowledge as possible. So this year, reflecting the “Seven Habits” theme, we are presenting seven topics that are high on the list of successful operations.

Which Greenhouse Operation Will Thrive in the Year 2025 (Melhem Sawaya): Greenhouse operators are farmers and they often take a gamble. They take big risks every time a decision is put into action. Even though this is the nature of the business, many steps can be taken to increase the odds of success.

Through my 39 years in the greenhouse industry I have seen many successful operations and some disasters … and many in between. The degree of success always reflects the foresightedness of the managers, who invariably also have an ability and willingness for effective planning.

In my presentation I am going to discuss:
  • Setting goals.
  • Establishing resources.
  • Establishing goal related tasks.
  • Establishing time lines.
  • Being flexible.
  • What is important.
Where We Stand with LED Lighting (Dr. Chevonne Carlow, OMAFRA): This presentation will include the latest information on LED lighting, to help you decide when you should be thinking about adopting this technology.

Greenhouse Future Labour (Albert Grimm, of Jeffery’s Greenhouses): Where is the future labour pool for greenhouses, including general labourers, growers and managers? How do we keep the employees we have now and how do we attract the next generation? Whose responsibility is it? Grimm will outline his experiences and discuss what the ornamental sector is doing to raise the new generation that will take the industry into the future.

Water treatment systems (Shalin Khosla, OMAFRA): This presentation will look at the many treatment systems available for water quality, including how each works, and their advantages and disadvantages. Khosla has experience with almost every type of water treatment used in the greenhouse vegetable sector where water sanitation is more rigorous due to the production practices. Which water treatment system will work best for you?

Ingredients of a Successful Farm Family Business (Jim Meyers, of aMeyers Fruit Farms and Greenhouses): Learn how to make a family business work and be successful. It’s all about organization, responsibilities, teamwork and positive attitudes. Successful family businesses are continuously looking for new opportunities and are never stagnant. Meyers will stress how teamwork results in improved synergies – the alternative is chaos.

Modern Marketing (Will Heeman, of Heeman’s Garden Centre): Social media is essential in marketing your business successfully. But what are the keys to an effective social media program? Heeman will share his experiences and explain the key social media ingredients you can apply to your operation.

Mechanization and Effective Efficiencies (Chris Newhouse, of Waldan Gardens): Labour efficiencies and quality products are the backbone of a thriving business. Mechanization is the most impact factor with ensuring both labour efficiencies and quality products. Waldan Gardens is always looking to to mechanize where they can.

I go back to my old saying about following the LALA theory, which stands for “Look, Ask, Listen, Act.” If you apply LALA, you are well on your way to thrive in 2025 and beyond. Next month’s Grower Day format is a good opportunity to practice this theory!

Grower Day will be held Wednesday, June 21, at the Holiday Inn Hotel & Suites St. Catharines Conference Centre. Doors open at 8:30 a.m. and the talks begin at 9:15. A mini trade show will be set up with many leading industry suppliers. Pre-registration is available via, or register at the door. We hope to see you there.

Melhem Sawaya of Focus Greenhouse Management is a consultant and research coordinator to the horticultural industry – This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

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