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Key Partner Spotlight: Oregon Association of Nurseries

The nursery industry is a big part of Oregon. Some consider it to be even older than the state, itself. In 1933, the Oregon Nurserymen’s Association began organizing growers, sponsoring research projects to expand the field, and lobbying lawmakers to give growers a voice in legislative and regulatory affairs. Today, it’s known as the Oregon Association of Nurseries, or OAN. It’s our key partner this month. OAN represents more than a thousand individual nursery stock producers, retailers, landscapers, and related companies that serve the nursery and greenhouse industry. The non-profit also serves as a voice for the state’s nursery and greenhouse producers, re-sellers, transporters, retailers, and suppliers. The idea behind the organization is a simple one—represent and serve the interests of its members. Through programs that promote research, business development, and education, organizers hope to support their members and their industry. Those members take an active role in the OAN. They serve on several committees that create, manage, and recommend programs for the association to sponsor. OAN’s website breaks down the categories this way:

  • Legislative Advocacy: Members look for nursery-related issues in the Oregon Legislature and suggest what the industry can do in response. A political action committee also takes positions on statewide political races.
  • Member Education: This is a major emphasis for the OAN. In fact, several committees work to find topics for continuing education seminars. They also provide information on topics ranging from labor issues and general safety tips, to pest control and the latest research results.
  • Member Services & Recognition: The OAN provides members with opportunities to get workers’ compensation and health insurance, legal and financial advice, and training programs. There are also opportunities for networking, social interaction, and recognition.
  • Marketing: Committees also sponsor a nationwide campaign to promote the quality of what’s grown in Oregon. Work is also being done to educate the people who live there about the industry’s importance to the state’s economy.
Raising awareness of Oregon’s nursery industry doesn’t end there. In 1988, members started the Yard, Garden & Patio Show. It’s become one of the largest consumer gardening shows presented by a volunteer association. More than 200 exhibitors and upwards of 25,000 spectators attend the show each February in Portland. Then there’s the Farwest Show and the Farwest Show Seminars at the Oregon Convention Center the last weekend of each August. Since 1973, it’s become a showcase for Oregon growers and one of the largest nursery industry trade shows in North America. In addition, there are educational sessions focusing on a wide variety of current nursery and greenhouse industry topics. Here at Hortica, we’re excited to say we’ll again be exhibiting at the Farwest Show in Portland, August 25-27, and look forward to seeing you there. If you’d like more information about the Oregon Association of Nurseries, check out their website. You can also find information about other services they provide like scholarships and publications, as well as how you can become a member.

Protection from Power Surges

It’s something every business owner should expect—a power surge. It’ll likely be a fraction of a second, but the damage it can leave behind can be lasting. All of us at Hortica want you to understand the dangers power surges present and how to protect your business from them. Just what is a power surge? It’s an increase in voltage significantly above what would be considered a normal flow of electricity. Power surges can be so quick, they’re measured in nanoseconds, microseconds, and milliseconds. If the surge or spike is high enough, it can cause heavy damage to machines or electrical equipment. Electrical industry experts estimate businesses lose about $25 billion each year from power issues like this. Power surges are most often caused by lightning strikes. But they can also be the result of other issues. Brownouts, heatwaves, accidents, and small animals getting into a transformer can be the cause of a power surge. Your internal power system can even experience a surge as equipment turns on or off. They can also happen with the restoration of power after a storm, flood, or other disaster. That’s why it’s recommended you unplug your sensitive electrical equipment when you prepare for a natural disaster. Security systems, data servers, motor controls, video monitors, and computers are the most likely to be damaged in a power surge. And that damage can be devastating. 40 percent of computer data loss is caused by power surges. It’s estimated a business that experiences a computer outage lasting more than 10 days may never recover financially. In fact, half of those companies it happens to will be out of business in the next 5 years. But there are ways to protect the investment you have in your business. Surge protection devices are the best way to deal with unexpected power spikes. Installing one at your main circuit breaker panel can help avoid costly damage. Often, your electrical provider can rent you one and take care of installation and any replacement that might be needed over time. Individual surge protectors or power strips may also be an option. They can only be used indoors and in dry locations. These protectors are mainly used to connect a number of electronics into one power outlet. Many are built with a fuse or circuit breaker trip. When there is a surge, the fuse or circuit will turn off, protecting what’s plugged in. Portable surge protectors are also available and can be used with an extension cord. Of course, this is just an overview of power surges and protection methods. Check out the infographic on our website for more. If you have specific concerns or questions about your company’s power system, talk to a qualified electrician. By taking some extra time and precaution, you’ll be able to protect your business from the unexpected—and unseen—dangers of power surges. Remember, your Hortica agent can also help you with this or any other safety issue you might encounter. They’re ready to sit down with you and explain all the details to make sure you’re protected.

Why Choose Hortica?

HorticaEvery few weeks, we tell you about various organizations and associations Hortica has collaborated with over the years. This week, we want to tell you a little about ourselves and why you should choose Hortica for your insurance needs. Since 1887, we’ve provided insurance solutions for horticultural businesses. We understand the unique needs of the industry and offer specific products and services for:

  • Garden centers
  • Greenhouse growers
  • Interior plantscapers
  • Retail florists
  • Nurseries
  • Wholesale floral distributors
  • Sod farms
  • Landscape and lawn care professionals
As a mutual company, we’re owned by our policyholders—not stockholders. That means we make business decisions that benefit our customers and the industry, since we know our success is tied to theirs. In fact, one-quarter of our policyholders have been with us for more than 25 years. From business insurance, to employee benefits and personal insurance, Hortica policyholders appreciate the one-stop shopping for their needs. Our goal is to help businesses get the correct coverage and proper amount of insurance they need. We also work with members to reduce losses, operate a safe and secure business, and provide prompt and fair claim settlements. But our service isn’t just about providing quality insurance. We also help business owners make smart decisions. Through loss control and safety services—including on-site consultations, thermographic inspections, customized safety presentations, webinars, annual claims analysis, and training materials—we often bring cost savings to their operations. A close eye is also kept on industry trends to provide members with advice on several topics—like the best type of structures to build or re-build, greenhouse engineering standards for wind and snow loads, and the safe use of shade cloth and energy curtains. Members also have access to our website that provides many more resource materials. Hortica is the only U.S. insurance company that dedicates the majority of its resources to the horticultural industry. Through research, governmental relations, educational scholarships, industry education programs, and innovative solutions to industry concerns, we work to improve the profitability and development of businesses and organizations. We also work with many national and state industry associations, including:
  • AmericanHort
  • American Floral Endowment (AFE)
  • Association of Professional Landscape Designers (APLD)
  • Horticultural Research Institute (HRI)
  • Master Nursery Garden Centers (MNGC)
  • National Greenhouse Manufacturers Association (NGMA)
  • Society of American Florists (SAF)
Above all else, we here at Hortica pride ourselves on personalized customer service. Whether it’s a quote, requesting a certificate of insurance, reporting a claim, or just asking questions concerning your policy, you’ll always get the service you expect and deserve. We look forward to talking with you. Check out our website for more information about the coverages we offer and how Hortica can make a difference to your business.

Heat illness prevention for employees

Fruit picker collecting strawberries on commercial farm, migrant worker Summer is here and that means we can expect hot and humid weather soon. But for those who work in greenhouses and outdoors, it can make for long—even dangerous—days. That’s why we here at Hortica want to help you protect your workers. According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), in 2014, 2,630 workers had some kind of heat illness. 18 of them died from heat stroke and related causes on the job. But heat illnesses and deaths are preventable—if you know what to do. That’s where a prevention program comes in. OSHA recommends employers:

  • Provide workers with water, rest, and shade
  • Allow new or returning workers to gradually increase their workloads and take more frequent breaks until they’ve built a tolerance for working in the heat
  • Train workers how to avoid and identify heat illness
  • Observe workers for signs of trouble
Normally, the body sweats to cool off in hot and humid weather. But if it’s particularly humid, sweating may not be enough. That can cause the body’s internal temperature to rise to a dangerous level. That’s when heat exhaustion or heat stroke can strike. There are some things you can have your workers do to protect themselves:
  • Drink water every 15 minutes—even if you aren’t thirsty
  • Take a rest in the shade to cool down
  • Wear a hat and light-colored clothing
Working in full sunlight can increase heat index values by 15 degrees, so extra rest and water breaks are required. Tasks that require heavy protective clothing or equipment can also make a worker more susceptible to heat illnesses. Be sure to check on them at regular intervals, but realize all workers are at risk during a heat wave. Here’s what to look out for: Heat exhaustion Call a supervisor for help or 911 if they’re not available if you see signs of:
  • Dizziness
  • Headache
  • Cramps
  • Weakness
  • Sweaty skin
  • Nausea, vomiting
  • Fatigue
Heat stroke Call 911 immediately and notify your supervisor if you see signs of:
  • Lack of sweating with red, hot, dry skin
  • High body temperature (only a medical professional can get an accurate reading)
  • Rapid pulse
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Confusion, strange behavior, agitation, hallucinations, disorientation
  • Convulsions/seizures
  • Fainting
If your worker shows signs of heat exhaustion or heat stroke, here are some basic first aid measures:
  • Have someone stay with the worker until help arrives
  • Start the cooling process immediately
    • Get the person into the shade or air-conditioning
    • Fan while misting the victim with water to promote evaporation and cooling
    • Give them fluids if they’re conscious and able to drink (do not give alcohol or caffeine)
    • Remove outer clothing if possible
    • Apply cool water to the victim using what’s available (garden hose, sponge, shower, etc.)
    • Place ice packs or cool towels on the back of their neck, under armpits, and groin
  • If the person stops breathing, perform CPR
The state of California has taken it one step further and drafted regulations that require heat illness prevention. Under the code that was just revised last year, employers in that state must do four things:
  • Training: All employees and supervisors must know and understand the dangers of heat illness and how to prevent it.
  • Water: Employers must provide enough water so workers can drink a quart each hour and encourage them to do so.
  • Shade: Workers must have access to shade and be allowed to rest to cool down. They should not wait until feeling sick before resting.
  • Planning: Employers must develop and implement procedures for complying with the California Heat Illness Prevention Standard.
This is just a basic summary of California’s Heat Illness Prevention Program. The actual regulations are more detailed and must be followed by all employers in that state. Check out California’s Department of Industrial Relations webpage for common questions and answers about heat illness prevention. It’s important to understand the dangers of heat illnesses and the things you can do to prevent your workers from getting hurt, or worse. For more information, go to the Department of Labor’s webpage dealing with heat illnesses. As always, if you have questions about heat safety—or any safety issue—your Hortica agent is ready to talk with you about ways we can help protect your business.

Key Partner Spotlight: AmericanHort

Originally formed in 2014, AmericanHort resulted from the merger of the American Nursery & Landscape Association and the OFA—the Association of Horticultural Professionals. Its goal is simple—apply the combined 220+ years of experience the two groups have to unify the industry, improve collaboration, increase organizational efficiencies, and expand support for business. AmericanHort works in many areas of the horticultural industry. From breeders to greenhouse and nursery growers, to retailers, distributors, florists, students, and educators. AmericanHort tries to serve all parts of the industry market chain. According to their website, that wide focus makes AmericanHort the largest association for garden retailers in the world. One of the key purposes of the organization is to make sure that members have the knowledge, information, and resources to make their business successful. Here are some of the ways AmericanHort does that:

  • The Horticultural Research Institute: Here, work is done to increase the understanding of the most critical issues facing the horticultural industry and educate business owners about them.
  • SHIFT: An AmericanHort Initiative: This is a research and education initiative to learn how customers interact with horticultural businesses. They concentrate on customer experiences and how business owners can shift their focus to meet changing needs to become more profitable.
  • Grow Wise, Bee Smart: Both industry representatives and consumers learn more about the challenges in bee health. Special attention is paid to science-based information on how the horticultural industry impacts pollinator health and what can be done to help ecosystems remain strong.
  • America in Bloom: This annual program is designed to promote community beautification. It’s hoped by showing the benefits of sprucing up a town, communities across the country will do more to beautify their own.
  • GenNext Community: This program by AmericanHort members focuses on working with young professionals. The hope is to encourage them to advance and grow the industry. Another program, HortScholars, selects six students each year who have excelled in school and helps them expand their interest in the horticulture industry.
In addition to those programs, AmericanHort also focuses on member education. Through an online knowledge center, live events, and webinars, the organization promotes professional advancement for those working in the industry. But it’s not just local businesses that AmericanHort focuses on. Members understand that this industry is like every other—one that operates globally. To make sure domestic and international horticultural concerns are addressed, the organization makes a point of working with lawmakers to show them the impact their legislation may have on the industry. Trade shows and industry partnerships are another way AmericanHort tries to help those in the business. Here at Hortica, we’re proud to call AmericanHort a key partner. In addition to providing webinars, we were a part of their Next Level conference held in Florida this past January. We were featured as a seminar presenter and sponsored the keynote speaker for the event. In April, we exhibited at the group’s Interior Plantscape Symposium in Pennsylvania. But our association for the year isn’t over yet. We’ll soon exhibit at AmericanHort’s Cultivate16 program in Columbus, Ohio. Our sales and claims staff will be part of this large industry trade show from July 9-12. And then from September 19-21, we’ll be a part of the Plug & Cutting Conference in California. For more information about AmericanHort or to become a member, check out their website at You can also find them on Facebook.

Hurricanes and Flood Insurance

Flooded GreenhouseFor six months each year—June 1 to November 30—the watch is on for hurricanes in the Atlantic. That’s when 97 percent of tropical activity occurs. That’s why we at Hortica want to help you prepare your greenhouse if a storm hits. Here are some tips to help you get ready:

  • Survey your property: Check all greenhouse bracing to make sure it’s secure. Clear drainage systems so water can flow away quickly. Pick up loose items around your business that could become airborne in the high winds.
  • Protect your investments: Fill trucks and trailers with valuable plants and park them next to sturdy buildings.
  • Be ready with backups: Gather your business files and records—including an updated inventory of all the plants you have in stock. They should be backed up on a regular basis with copies kept in a safe area off site. Having these records will speed your claim.
  • Prepare the building: Determine the areas where power should be shut off and in what order. Also, rent or purchase a generator to help deal with an extended power outage.
  • Plan ahead: Create a response plan to protect employees and your property. It should include emergency instructions, evacuation guidelines, and a chain of command.
  • Practice your plan: Review your hurricane response plan quarterly and look for areas that might need revising. If there’s time before a storm hits, walk through the procedures to make sure everything is ready.
It’s not just those of you with a business near a coast that need to worry about hurricanes. Often, the tropical storms trigger heavy rains, storm surge and inland flooding. But flooding can come from more sources than rain—a dam or levee failure, mud flows, snow melt, spring thaw, and even new development. In fact, flooding can be more damaging than a hurricane. From 2010-2014 the average commercial flood claim came to $89,000 and at least 25 percent of businesses that close after an event like a flood never reopen again. That’s where insurance comes in. Flood insurance is available through the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP). Check with your agent to see if you’re eligible. If your business is in a moderate to low risk flood area, a preferred risk policy gives you up to $500,000 of coverage for your buildings and up to $500,000 on the contents inside at low preferred rates. If you’re in a high risk zone, a standard rated policy provides similar coverage—but at higher rates. But be aware—flood insurance rules require a 30-day waiting period before any policy kicks in. No matter what your business is or where it is, it’s important that you review your insurance policy to make sure you have all of your buildings, vehicles, equipment, personal property, and crops covered adequately. Here are some other options to consider:
  • Water endorsements
    • Sewer and drain back-up
    • Mobile equipment
    • Data processing
  • Power outage
    • Damage to property
    • Loss of business income
    • Communication interruption (no phones or internet)
    • Loss of heating or cooling (plant spoilage)
  • Equipment breakdown
  • Surge damage when power is restored
  • Other mechanical breakdown
  • Profit protection
  • Business income coverage
  • Crop income coverage
After a hurricane, flooding or other natural disaster, contact your agent immediately. A delay on your part could mean a delay in getting your claim processed. Be sure to include photos or video of the damage, as well as a detailed list of damaged items.  If possible, include their value and supply receipts. If you have any questions about how to protect your employees, inventory, and buildings from storms and floods, your Hortica insurance specialist is ready to provide some answers.

Greenhouse Maintenance

Greenhouse MaintenanceNow that the planting season is here, gardeners and plant lovers are out making things beautiful. It’s also time for greenhouse operators to take care of their investment. While each season presents its own challenges and chances to improve your business, summer provides opportunities to keep your buildings in prime condition. We here at Hortica talked with Shawn Brown of greenhouse contracting firm L.L. Klink to find out what you should check to keep your greenhouse in the green. Of course, proper maintenance is the key to keeping your operation successful and profitable. And while you shouldn’t ignore the internal workings of your business, we’re going to focus mainly on the structural issues you may face. Glazing This is a major feature of your greenhouse and can have a major effect on your bottom line. Look for penetrations and open areas where heat can be lost. Find areas that need to be repaired to avoid catastrophic damage during the colder months. Consider upgrading or retrofitting your glazing for added longevity, better light transmission, and energy efficiency. Gutters This is one area that’s often overlooked. Many operators know gutters aren’t easy to replace if they’re not maintained. Clear out your gutters to make sure they’re ready for a second fall cleaning. It’s also the time to look for rust. If found, scrub with a wire brush and clean. Then coat it with a primer and a top coat of paint. Don’t overlook the drainage downspouts. They can crack during the winter, leading to water damage to your greenhouse and its foundation. Roof vents Another overlooked area for summer maintenance is up on the roof. Many growers have experienced the feeling of taking care of their product, only to find that the vents won’t work, putting their crop in danger. The best way to avoid the problem is to examine connections and make sure the mechanicals like the rack and pinions aren’t worn and are in working order. Use a recommended grease to keep things moving. Also check out any automated roof motors and have regular maintenance done as recommended by the manufacturer. Test the operation of the vents to make sure they’re sealing properly. Electrical Summer is also a good time to check out your power system. Take a look at all electrical connections. Make sure junction boxes are in good working order and properly sealed. General maintenance While you’re out, examine the structure itself. Check for loose or missing bolts that prevent a tight seal, leading to leaks, building damage, and glazing damage that’ll shorten the life of your greenhouse. If you do make upgrades to your greenhouse, don’t forget to look into energy grants to help pay for renovations. By taking care of this maintenance now, you’ll help keep your operation running smoothly and efficiently throughout the year. Having your shade system operating at its peak will ensure your growing results and minimize your long-term out-of-pocket expenses. And consider other upgrades to your greenhouse—like fire rated products and other safety items. They could help you save on your insurance. For more information about that, or how to get started on a greenhouse maintenance program, talk to your Hortica agent.

Key Partner Spotlight: Real Local Florists, Inc.

Real local florists Originally formed in 2011, Real Local Florists began under a different name—Florists for Change. Members were looking for a way to deal with concerns over floral wire services and how they affect the way orders are taken and filled locally. Their goal was to increase exposure and give relevance to the local retail florist. Not long after, they realized that corporate-run wire services weren’t the entire problem. Instead, a voice was needed for the entire floral industry. As a result, in 2014, Florists for Change became Real Local Florists (RLF). Now, this not-for-profit organization works to help local flower shops take control of their market and promote themselves. Unpaid volunteer florists do the work for RLF. Among their tasks—eliminating and discouraging deceptive order gathering, creating non-brand specific marketing to encourage the use of Real Local Florists members, and providing business education on issues like taxes and financial and legal matters that affect the floral industry. They also share information on trademarks, business entity structure, and florist finances. One of the main goals of RLF is to improve the value of floral purchases and increase customer confidence in local shops. Advertisements created and paid for by the group show the local florist as the flower expert. In fact, the organization is in the early phases of creating a marketing campaign with its own persona. Through posters, email, and advertisements, “Flora Lee Smart” (florally smart) is designed to help customers make the connection between flowers and local florists. The hope is to expand the concept and create commercials featuring Flora Lee for holidays and special occasions. Since RLF is about florists helping florists, the organization wants to improve the economics of wire orders, so they are more fair to filling florists as well as sending florists. It also runs a low-cost florist-to-florist direct order system and has created the Sell My Products (SMP) Network that helps florists get website orders from around the country. Here at Hortica, we’re excited to call Real Local Florists a key partner. In fact, we’re attending the group’s convention and annual meeting from July 31-August 3 in Las Vegas. Our Ken Von Forell is one of the presenters. He’ll share with you some tips on how to protect and enhance your business investment. For more information about Real Local Florists or to become a member, check out their website at You can also find them on Facebook.

In The Bloom with Maria: Extra Services May Require Extra Coverages

Spring is here and along with a new crop of flowers and plants comes the season for graduations and weddings. As Hortica Retail Sales Specialist Maria Shepherd found out, it’s no longer enough for florists and event designers to provide flowers and refer other vendors for the photos, and music. Now, people are looking for a party that reflects their personalities and interests. In the article “Two-Ring Circus” from the March 2016 issue of “Floral Management” by the Society of American Florists, author Mary Westbrook checked into the trends that are now becoming popular and how florists can make sure they’re still part of the proceedings. It’s especially important since her research found the average wedding budget in 2014 ranged between $25-30,000. So, many florists have realized the more services they provide, the more they can make. The first step is networking. Many florists find getting to know wedding planners personally is key to getting in on the good jobs. Industry experts say upwards of 52 percent of couples hire a planner for their big day. Your networking can be as simple as having coffee, lunch, or partnering on a small project for free. The goal is to get a foot in the door. Weddings are no longer the traditional occasions we’re accustomed to. A personal and memorable wedding sometimes means it’ll be a weekend affair, with things like a welcome cocktail party before the ceremony and a send-off brunch the next day. Those are prime opportunities for florists to come in and help beyond flowers. Multiple events are a chance to show you can provide a different experience for guests at each. Experts say many families are relieved to learn you can do more for them than just the wedding. Since wedding details are reflective of the couple—right down to the flowers in the bride’s bouquet—some florists are going so far as to create a side business to provide for unique requests. Cut-out silhouettes, custom dance floors, and chalkboard renderings are just some of the options being offered. Then there’s artistically written menus, custom pillows, and aisle runners. There are even some florists who provide tuxedo rentals. The options can be endless. But all these changes in the wedding planning game may mean you need to change how you insure your business. As you include more services, possibly acting as a general multi service provider and add more inventory like props or rental items, you may need to include them on your policy. Talk to a Hortica specialist. We’ll sit down with you to review your business needs and discuss the insurance solutions that’ll make sure you’re protected.

Protecting Your Equipment from Theft

Agricultural Spray Machine When it comes to your horticultural business, odds are your biggest investment is in equipment. It’s estimated between $300 million and $1 billion worth of heavy equipment is stolen each year. And that’s not counting the smaller stuff like materials and tools—or the cost of downtime and replacement. But there are ways you can protect yourself. It’s safe to say most thieves are looking for whatever’s easiest to take. But you can make yourself less of a target if you build a layered approach to security. It starts with some easy, inexpensive actions:

  • Write down what you have: It’s as simple as keeping a record of the serial numbers on your equipment. You’ll also be able to identify it and have it returned if it’s recovered. Be sure to keep the records of the numbers in a secure place.
  • Join a database: The National Equipment Register ( offers a free service called HELPtech. You can register any piece of mobile equipment. Almost all legitimate buyers of used equipment use the site to see if it was previously registered. If something doesn’t seem right, they often contact police.
Whether it’s at your business or a job site, you can protect your equipment just by how you store it. The main idea is to make you a less attractive target in hopes thieves will move on to easier pickings. Here are some simple suggestions:
  • Don’t give a free ride: Park your equipment off a trailer. If there’s nothing on it, there’s no reason for a thief to hook it up and drive it off.
  • Create a traffic jam: Park large vehicles in a way so it boxes the smaller equipment in and can’t be driven out.
  • Link items together: Take a chain and thread several machines together. Use a good quality lock.
  • Light it up: Thieves love the cover of darkness. A brightly lit equipment area that’s visible to anyone passing by will help keep the bad guys away.
  • Make your mark: Paint your equipment a unique color or have identifying decals. Thieves want equipment that’s not visibly linked to a business. It’s easier for them to sell.
There are also anti-theft devices you can buy. Wheel locks, control locks and immobilizers limit the functions of your vehicles and make them harder to drive off. As for higher-tech options, security systems with motion detection, cameras and alarms are available. GPS devices and LoJack also give you the ability to track your equipment. But remember, they’re really only good for recovery and do little to prevent the theft in the first place. While you’re building a layered approach to equipment security, don’t forget about another kind of security—the kind insurance provides if something is stolen. Take time to review your insurance policies. See if your investments are covered at replacement cost or actual cash value. Learn if you have rental coverage. Find out about business interruption policies. Your Hortica specialist is ready to sit down with you and explain all the details to make sure you’re protected.