Dan Chaney Is Finalist for National Young Grower Award
Being a professional grower in the floriculture industry takes passion, energy and determination. It’s the only way you can endure the long hours of hard work. It’s definitely not a career for the faint of heart!
That’s why, for the past six years, GrowerTalks magazine, with the help of sponsors such as Ball Seed and OFA—An Association of Industry Professionals, has sponsored the annual Young Grower Award competition. They want to recognize and reward those young (under age 35) greenhouse growers who are dedicated to crop production.
The three finalists, which include Auburn native Dan Chaney, each received an essay assignment, given at the height of spring busy season. They were asked to address the question, “Give at least three specific ways you will keep your business relevant to your customers, so you and they will still be around in the year 2020.”
For instance, Dan Chaney, age 30, Production Manager for Ivy Acres of Calverton, New York, sees three areas that are key: “If growers are able to embrace future legislation, decrease operating costs and provide innovative products and ideas to the consumer, the greenhouse industry will be as relevant and sustainable in the future as it has ever been.”
Val Bednarek, Liner Grower for Oglesby Plants International in Altha, Florida, believes the 21st century grower must be “an entrepreneur who needs to synchronize concepts and resources. He’s a manager who has to organize and execute around principles of sustainability.”
And Dana Langhoff, Plug Grower Manager for Floral Plant Growers of Denmark, Wisconsin, puts an emphasis on his plug customers. “I sometimes hear the antiquated phrase, ‘no news is good news’ in reference to a lack of customer feedback,” he says. “To me, no news is no news. We can’t just focus on the plants and not on the customer.”
July 11 Announcement Ceremony
All three finalists will be guests at the OFA Short Course in July, and the winner will be announced at a special ceremony on Sunday, July 11. The winner will be featured in the GrowerTalks September cover story.
Chaney is the son of John and Mary Ann Chaney, Auburn. He graduated from Auburn High School in 1998 and from the University of Missouri with a Bachelor of Science in Plant Sciences with an Emphasis in Ornamental Plant Production and Operations Managment.
Dan has been working with Ivy Acres in Calverton, New York for the last four years. He started as a grower and was promoted to Production Manager last fall.
Chaney is married to Iliana Sanchez, a radio DJ in Manhattan for Univision Radio. The Chaneys currently reside in Bay Shore, New York, and are planning to move to Patchogue, N.Y. this fall.
A panel of expert judges will choose the 2010 Young Grower Award winner based on their nomination applications, their essays, and a phone interview.Dan Chaney’s Response to Magazine’s Question
Chaney wrote, “Entering our first season of a new decade, we’re not sure if the country is out of the economic recession, but signs point toward positive growth for the economy. As we go forward, not only are we at the mercy of the weather and economy, but there will be many new challenges facing us in the years to come. As margins become tighter and the quality demanded by the retailer and consumer increases, growers need to find ways to improve efficiency, quality, service and delivery; and anticipate and take proactive measures to changes in the industry.
“Greenhouse businesses are in a constant struggle with the competition to gain market share and increase revenues while at the same time maximizing operational efficiency at their production facilities. Many obstacles can prohibit growth and/or survival in today’s market. To overcome the obstacle of increasing costs in labor, energy and materials, growers must continuously review all processes that affect production costs. We must constantly improve the operation of our facilities and analysis of the market.
“More than ever, growing products that work for both you and your customer will be critical for success. Focus must be directed to minimize decisions that contribute to decreased yields and sell-through, reduce inventories of materials, and explore possibilities of outsourcing materials from China and other emerging markets. After successful seasons and thorough financial analysis, we need to be ready to make intelligent capital investments that will prepare us for changes and uncertain economic times.
“Automation in environmental controls, movement of materials and transplanting are all ways we can look to further streamline our operations while decreasing our labor costs. Implementation of these systems can require large allocations of funds, but can make instant impacts on operating efficiencies and will pay for themselves over time.