Green Circle Growers: Making Every Day Better With Plants For Front Line Workers

Green Circle Growers: Making Every Day Better With Plants For Front Line Workers

By Annie ZelmJun 3 /2020

At Kuno Creative, our mission is to help companies we believe in get results. This is the sixth in a series featuring our clients, their mission and how they’re pivoting their marketing strategy in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic.

Green Circle Growers has come a long way from its roots as a vegetable farm. When Art VanWingerden came to the United States from Holland, he had a clear vision: To see his 16 children start greenhouses all across the country. Over 50 years ago, his son John VanWingerden founded the farm here in Oberlin that now ships high-quality plants from coast to coast.

Now, Green Circle Growers is the largest orchid grower in the nation and ranked among the top 10 greenhouses in the country, growing over 250 million plants a year. Like its founder, the company’s “extended family” of hundreds of employees has a big vision: to have one of its plants within everyone’s line of sight in North America.

The company also wants to promote a “green thumb lifestyle” with sustainably grown plants that are easy for anyone to care for, as its signature brand, Just Add Ice, suggests.

The coronavirus brought immediate challenges of ensuring employee safety while maintaining operations. Green Circle Growers hasn’t just responded to these challenges; it has gone above and beyond to reach out to the community during this time.

Spreading Joy with Donated Plants To Hospitals and Nursing Homes

First responders and patients directly impacted by coronavirus face daily fears and feelings of isolation. Many are confined to hospital rooms or working long hours in a stressful environment, unable to visit with loved ones or even spend time outside.

A fresh plant can be a simple way to add beauty and reconnect people to nature.

That’s why, when faced with a surplus of plants, Green Circle Growers donated 36,000 Easter lilies to hospitals, nursing homes and clinics in Northeast Ohio over the past few weeks. They also partnered with Home Depot stores across Michigan to donate spring annual plants to local communities to brighten people’s days and share the joy of spring in the midst of a stressful time.

Additionally, the company is coordinating a national effort to donate over 50,000 orchids — a total value of over $1 million — to seven major metro areas most affected by the COVID-19 crisis. The donations went to front line workers in these communities, just in time for Mother’s Day. This is in keeping with the company’s mission of making every day better with plants for healthcare workers on the front lines.

"In this extraordinary time, it was important to our organization to find ways we could contribute and the answer was clear - our orchids can brighten some of the darkest days," said Scott Giesbrecht, co-CEO of Just Add Ice and Green Circle Growers, in a press release. "And we realized our nation's healthcare workers have been experiencing some of the darkest days of our lifetimes. If our orchids can provide a bit of joy and color for these very deserving individuals, we felt it was the least we could do during this difficult time."

You can see video footage of these donations on social media by following #FlowersfortheFrontline.

Ensuring Employee Safety

With over 5.5 million square feet in its facilities and 1.1 million square feet outside, Green Circle Growers has thousands of plants to care for each day.

To keep its employees safe while maintaining operations, it spread its team members out in small groups to comply with state and federal safe distancing guidelines. Its management team staggered break times to keep employees from congregating in large groups and increased its communication and sanitization efforts. Managers instructed employees not to come to work if they were sick and to seek medical care if they had symptoms of coronavirus.

It continues to monitor operations and make adjustments as needed.

Brightening Home Offices

With nearly a third of all Americans working from home during the coronavirus pandemic, living rooms and kitchens have become makeshift offices. As so many people spend so much more time at home, they want it to feel more inviting.

Indoor plants instantly add life to any space. They also act as natural humidifiers. Research shows they can even improve indoor air quality by absorbing harmful toxins like carbon dioxide, benzene and formaldehyde.

And although it may be harder to quantify, some research suggests that being surrounded by natural elements can actually boost our mood and make us more productive.

Marketing During COVID-19

Green Circle Growers makes it easy to shop for indoor plants online.

Being ahead of the curve and offering a 30% discount on its unique watercolor orchids helped the company maintain strong sales, despite the fact that fewer people are out shopping in many of the stores where its plants are displayed.

With Kuno’s help, the company has promoted its special offers and its Mother’s Day collection through ongoing email marketing. These email promotions resulted in a 904% increase in online store conversion rate, a 471% increase in the number of orders, and a 389% increase in online sales revenue.

With its continued investment in innovative, sustainable growing practices, community outreach and digital marketing, Green Circle Growers is delivering low-maintenance plants directly to consumers during a time when many are desperate for signs of spring.

As Green Circle Growers continues to navigate through these challenging times, Kuno is proud to be their partner.

Working with Kuno


The Author

Annie Zelm

Annie is the driving force behind content strategy for clients. She uncovers insights about what motivates buyers and uses that knowledge to shape client websites and editorial calendars. Annie brings several years of PR experience gained from working at the amusement park, Cedar Point.