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Jon Kozlowski, Growers Supply:

"We're not manufacturing greenhouses, we're building farmers"

By providing complete project design, building, hands on training and insight on profitable business models and marketing courses, Growers Supply puts greenhouse hydroponics and indoor growing at anyone's fingertips. "We're not manufacturing greenhouses, we're building farmers."

As a result of the increasing demand for commercial greenhouse projects, Growers Supply launched their GrowSpan division and accompanying website this summer. The combination of the popular locally grown food movement and the sudden rise of the legal cannabis industry has given their business a boost ever since.

"The greenhouse industry has not seen so much potential in a long, long time", said Growers Supply's Jon Kozlowski when asked about the current landscape the industry is in. "With the changes in legalization, the cannabis industry has been coming above ground. It is a real interesting industry to be part of as an acknowledgeable source and trusted supplier for greenhouse structures and growing materials."

Kozlowski explained that Growers Supply has seen continuous growth as a result of their activities in the cannabis industry. "We are glad to be part of this growth. It is incredible what happened over the last couple of years. Simply take a satellite view of certain areas like Pueblo, Colorado and Bellingham, Washington and see all those new greenhouses dotting the landscape."

Growers Supply' Jon Kozlowski

Operating from Iowa, Growers Supply designs and manufactures complete greenhouse projects and indoor growing operations for this relatively new industry. They are part of the FarmTek group of companies, the one stop shop for those active in agriculture, horticulture and rural building industries. "We pride ourselves on being a complete solutions provider where the industry can go for everything from A to Z, without having to go to multiple vendors."

For this reason GrowSpan was launched. "GrowSpan has become our identity for the greenhouse industry. Investors, growers, entrepreneurs and others who are interested in setting up a greenhouse can now go to one address for consultation and get exactly what they need. We have in-house CAD-designers and engineers who can bring the whole building and design process according to any local building code anywhere in the country. From there we manufacture the building, ship it off and offer install services."

A Growspan greenhouse project from Growers Supply

GrowSpan has also become known for their ability to finance these projects also. "We understand the financial challenges that come with farming and are glad that we can sometimes offer growers interest-free financial packages to achieve their goals. This can make the difference for many customers and is a really powerful tool that has already started up many successful farming businesses."

But it's not just startups in the cannabis space that approach GrowSpan. The local food movement also spurs the growth of their greenhouse, indoor hydroponic and aquaponics customer base. As most of these customers are completely new to indoor growing, Growers Supply also organizes many workshops to provide classroom knowledge and hands-on experience.

"We have CEA learning centers at both of our locations in Iowa and Connecticut and organize monthly three-day seminars on hydroponics and aquaponics in our own greenhouses. In addition to this, we have a 7,000 square feet indoor hydroponic growing space at our facilities in Connecticut."

Kozlowski explained that it is very important to provide their customers a real hands-on experience with the system. "They are able to put their eyes on it and learn how to work with the system, see how it's built and learn how to maintain it."

Next to this, having their own learning centers also allows Growers Supply to gain insight in the actual cost of running these systems and what is needed to make them profitable. "Because we have the systems up and running ourselves we truly understand how to operate them from a business standpoint. Next to this we use them for R&D purposes to create more technical insights in new opportunities and pass that knowledge on to our customers."

The three-day courses at Growers Supply are offered for 995 USD and come with lodging, breakfast and lunch. "If trainees are moving forward with their project and purchase a system we give them the entire cost of training back in the form of credit to their company. And the training is offered for free for those who already have purchased a greenhouse or growing system."

Kozlowski furthermore stressed that the short courses also have a very positive effect on the trainees in terms of cross-pollination. "When you gather a group of like-minded people with similar ideas, a lot of networking is going on. It also affirms for people that this is something they can do. They get more confident when they see that there are other people out there that are trying to do the same thing in their communities. This all happens by gathering people together like this."

The seminars also cover other important, if not the most important aspect of operating a successful greenhouse business: marketing. "Greenhouse growing is more than just systems and crops. Therefore we have other successful clients coming to talk on marketing. Because you can grow the most beautiful product in the world, if you don't know how to build your brand and how to market your product, you are not going to be successful."

With all their hands-on trainings and complete turnkey project solutions, Growers Supply and GrowSpan are putting successful business models at anybody's fingertips. "It allows hydroponics to become more mainstream. The local food movement is here to stay. It has become the norm and is no longer a trend. We are glad to be part of it, not only by building greenhouses, but by building farmers!"