Financing your greenhouse project is like training for the Winter Olympics

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On the lead-up to this year’s Vancouver Winter Olympics, our thoughts were on the athletes and all the hard work and sacrifices they made in making their respective teams. They started with a dream that might have begun when they were only six years old. It doesn’t matter how or when the dream first formed, it only matters that after tremendous sacrifice and hard work, they were able to fulfill their goal of competing in the Winter Olympics.

In this six-part series on financing your greenhouse project, I will focus on a 10-point checklist that will help you expand your project idea into an operational business. I will discuss securing the location, the marketplace, equipment selection, business plans, and how to build your credit strength. The analogy of “training for the Winter Olympics” will remain my focus, because in this marketplace, if you are not serious about your involvement and preparation, then you are not ready to move your project from dream to reality.

After joining Atticus Financial Group in 2004, I was quickly introduced to the concept of equipment financing and how that might apply to the greenhouse industry. A month into my new career, a local greenhouse grower led me on a tour of his biomass boiler room and then pointed out that he had used an equipment lease to finance his multimillion-dollar boiler system. The door opened and my dream started – helping others use equipment financing to fulfill their dreams to enter the greenhouse marketplace. The real challenge is how we move your dream from a vision to the reality of a successful business.

What are the qualifications for sports for business success?

As an example, if you are interested in joining the Canadian bobsleigh team, the team website ( lists the attributes required to participate: explosive power and strength, speed, self-motivation and hard work, and being a team player. In over five years of financing projects for the greenhouse and bio-energy industries, I recognize that these requirements are also needed for individual and corporate business success. Do you have the courage and determination that is required to plan and practise in making your dream a reality?

Are you a serious corporate athlete or just playing in a recreational league for the fun of it? Many visionary people across North America have the dream of building a greenhouse in their neighbourhood, and some even have the property secured, but very few are willing and able to push off and ride the equivalent bobsleigh through the twists and turns of an Olympic course. The reality is that no one would jump into a bobsleigh without doing their research and then training with an experienced crew.

Along with everything else, you need a sense of humour

No doubt there is risk and reward in this sport, as there is in any business endeavour. So my goal in this series is to help

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Financial Options for Growers

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green house leasing optionsHow many times have you heard this comment in the greenhouse industry – “How am I going to pay for it?” In this time of volatile energy costs and increased competition in the marketplace, greenhouse operators continue to hesitate and ponder about upgrading their present processes.

With so many demands on your cash and capital budget, it becomes a challenge to decide which equipment to install and how to pay for it. It is okay for a grower/ owner to stop and take a second look at how they might reduce their input costs or increase their yields by taking advantage of technological advances. It may be a great idea with solid paybacks, but installing the new equipment requires the correct financing option, and that requires planning and insight. Therefore, the goal of this article is to ensure that you know what financial options are available to you, the greenhouse grower/owner.As a greenhouse grower, superintendent and manager from 1970 to 2004 and now a financing specialist for the past five years, I have been welcomed into many agricultural businesses to see how they plan and implement their financing strategies. I believe that this shared experience will help you as an individual grower and benefit the greenhouse/agricultural industry as well.

The main financing options include paying cash, borrowing from the bank or using lease financing. Paying cash seems the easiest and has historically been the chosen option for greenhouse growers who believe in the mantra…”don’t buy, until you can pay for it”. However, with the increasingly sophisticated and significantly larger greenhouse operations of today’s marketplace, leverage (borrowing) has become more of an acceptable and desirable option to use.

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