Your business’s breathtaking landscaping elements or your home’s new kitchen cabinets could very likely have come from the Buckeye State’s flourishing industries of floriculture and forestry.
Ohio floriculture ranks sixth and wood product manufacturing ranks 15th in employment and sales in the nation. The state’s nursery and forestry commerce are big business and are respected for their innovation and growth. As consumers’ belt-tightening forces creative ways to live more simply and embrace their home and local environments, these established enterprises provide significant economic boost and job stability.
Ohio’s 2011 national floriculture ranking includes nearly $208 million in sales. While margins are getting tighter, the quality of product is improving across the board.
Family-owned for nearly 60 years, Willoway Nurseries of Avon is considered one of the Midwest’s largest wholesale growers of quality nursery stock. It ranks within the top 40 nationwide, according to Danny Gouge, Willoway’s marketing manager.
“The Avon location started with 10 acres and has grown to 1,000 including 550 acres of field production, 450 acres of container stock and six acres of greenhouses,” Gouge says. “Our diverse inventory consists of over 2,300 varieties of plant material, including trees and shrubs. We specialize in sales to independent garden centers, landscapers and re-wholesalers from Iowa to Maine and from Michigan to Kentucky, and have two wholesale distribution centers in Avon and Columbus.”
In addition to Willoway’s priorities of providing quality products and service, they relish incorporating new growing techniques and technology.
“Time is more important to today’s gardeners as many are multiple-income families, and are also younger and have less experience in gardening,” Gouge says. “We offer help, such as informative photo tags with planting instructions, and attempt to make it less intimidating because gardening brings value to them for their investment of time. It adds beauty and value to their homes, and provides fresh small fruits and veggies.”
Forestry Stands Tall
“Tim-ber,” the cry associated with a cut tree falling, resonates with forestry’s enormous economic impact in Ohio.
Eric McConnell, assistant professor and forest products specialist with Ohio State University Extension, reports that in 2010 the state’s forest industry employed more than 118,000 people in 372 sectors of Ohio’s economy with those workers earning $5.69 billion in wages and benefits.
Converting raw materials into various forest products resulted in $9 billion in value-added goods. Forestry generated $22 billion in total economic activity, up from $15 billion in 2005.
Forestry and logging, exports (to Europe, the Middle East, China and the Pacific Rim), wood products and furniture, and paper products are vital components of the state’s economy. John Dorka, executive director of Ohio Forestry Association Inc., is confident Ohio’s forest industry is well-positioned to take advantage of the economic recovery over the next several years.
“Ohio forests are 95 percent hardwood,” Dorka says. “Such wood provides a broad array of products with special emphasis on high-quality hardwood for lumber – for furniture, cabinetry, flooring, windows, home finishing – as well as for pallets, staves, handles, paper and energy. The Amish Furniture Cluster in northeast Ohio, known for its high-quality furniture products, produces 10 percent of the U.S. hardwood furniture market.”
Industrial Timber & Lumber Company (ITL) owns more than 50,000 acres of sustainably managed timberlands of Northern and Appalachian hardwood. One of the country’s premier manufacturers of hardwood lumber, the company processes more than 200 million board feet of hardwood annually and serves both domestic and international markets.
“ITL is the third- or fourth-largest hardwood exporter in the country,” says Rob McCarthy, ITL’s sales and purchasing manager. “We have numerous sawmills and dry kiln operations. We also have a long-standing partnership with Superior Hardwoods of Ohio producing 52 million board feet per year.”
He says ITL constantly seeks better ways to conserve the natural resources it uses while improving its service and technology.
“All of our facilities are networked, we are committed to the environment and we are constantly looking for ways to upgrade the operation,” McCarthy says.