With another 2.6 hectare currently being built, the greenhouse of Ontario Plants Propagation grows to 15 ha propagation space and an additional 2.5 hectare of warehouse and service area. "Greenhouses and thus orders have grown significantly over the last 10 years and growers continue to need supply partners who are adaptable", president Steve Vanderkooy says.
Quintupled in size
Following the growth and the demand from Canadian and US growers, Ontario Plants Propagation Ltd was erected in 2002, providing - the name might reveal it - plant propagation services to greenhouse vegetable growers. Starting on an ample 2.4 hectare in St Thomas, Ontario, the company has since quintupled in size and is currently adding another 2.6 hectare to their acreage of high-tech growing facilities. Heated with natural gas boilers and heat storage tanks, realized by Havecon and equipped with some new innovations in partnerships with clients, the project is currently being commenced on schedule and completion is expected in the fall of 2020.
"I'm sure it will not be our last expansion", says Steve, who has been president with the company for almost 15 years. "Our vision has been consistent through the years: we want to grow with our customers and we will continue to do that. We have long-term supply relationships with our customer base and when their demand increases, so must our supply. That's also the reason for our 2020 expansion."
The company specializes in the propagation of hydroponic vegetable plants: grafted and non-grafted tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers and eggplants. Their assortment is completed with certified organic vegetable plants. The demand for this last group has been increasing and more customers include it in their product mix, but it remains the minority. "The inclusion of organic growing at Ontario Plants goes back to our customer-centric vision. When our customers ask for a new propagation product, we want to find a way to meet their needs", Steve explains.
It's not the first expansion the team has been through and with almost two decades of horticultural history, the Canadian propagators have built up quite some experience - yet the current COVID threat is a new challenge to deal with. "And mainly the uncertainty and disruptions caused by the virus. We have a tremendous responsibility to our customers to maintain our part of the fresh and healthy food supply chain. To do that, we continually evaluate and adjust our daily tasks with COVID prevention and contingency planning in mind. However difficult things may be, we want to prepare for every possibility", Steve says. "The entire Ontario Plants' team is adapting well and remains nimble and alert.”
He adds how adaptability remains one of the integral characteristics of a successful partner to growers. "The greenhouses and thus order sizes have grown significantly over the last 10 years but growers continue to need supply partners who are adaptable."
Preparing for adaptability
Even though adaptability is a characteristic, the ability to adapt as a company is something you can prepare for - something the team with Ontario Plant Propagators does with their expanded warehouse and service area of 2.5 hectare in total. "We know this service area ratio is above industry norms but believe it is necessary to effective organization and quality. Mix ups happen very easily in propagation. There are many moving parts and clean, well-organized spaces are integral to reliability and efficiency."
It's an example on how the company has been operating over the last decades and will continue to do so in their newest expansion: with the consumer in constant focus and preparing for the unexpected. "Maintaining adaptability without compromise to quality, cost control, efficiency, and of course innovation and scale is the challenge that will determine our success in this and other situations."
For more information:
Ontario Plants Propagation Limited
38024 John Wise Line,
St. Thomas, ON, Canada