Industry News:
Surveying the industry

A major complaint from many in this industry and others looking for information on the horticulture trade was the lack of available statistics. In answer, with the approval of the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs (OMAFRA) and the Landscape Ontario Horticultural Trades Association (LOHTA), Ken Nentwig of Ridgetown College set out to investigate and gather statistics relating specifically to horticultural businesses, its owners, managers, employees and finances — thereby giving us some indication of the size of the horticulture industry in Ontario.

     After many months of creating surveys, asking for industry’s cooperation in answering the surveys and months of gathering the information, the result is this report on the health and vitality of the industry.

Horticultural business statistics

Report of January Survey: March 1, 2001
Compiled by: Ken Nentwig

Gross revenues
A three-minute survey questionnaire, administered at Landscape Ontario Congress 2001 in Toronto, replaced a mailed version sent out the previous year that yielded too little response for analysis. Six main questions were asked, including:
  1. Business size (gross revenues);
  2. An indication of increasing or decreasing revenues, 1999 to 2000 and expected for 2001;
  3. Personnel numbers and costs;
  4. Business activity types;
  5. Payroll costs per activity;
  6. A regional locator index.

     Four interviewers gathered statistical information from 209 participants, with 182 responses providing complete information. Gross revenue information (see Chart 1) shows that almost 75 per cent of business operations are under $750,000, and nearly 90 per cent are under $2,000,000.

     Approximately 63 per cent of participants reported increased revenues for 2000 while also projecting increases for 2001. Table 1 indicates growth trends average 13.8 to 18.4 per cent.

Table 1: Changes in gross revenue
No changeIncreaseDecreaseRange Reported '99 to '0012%80%8%-18.1% to +24.8% Expected ‘00 to ‘0120%73%5%-12.9% to +19.7% No response: 2%

     Gross revenues were collected for each business segment, or were estimated by allocating an average amount from a matrix of ranges. Table 2 outlines reported revenues for value-added components of the horticulture industry (beyond wholesale production), ranked from largest to least.

Table 2: Value-Added Revenue Summary ($000’s)
Per centPer cent RevenueRevenue Landscape Construction36.5%$50,823 Design/Cons/L.A.2.3%$3,167 Retail Garden Centre24.6%$34,254 Snow Removal2.1%$2,934 Grounds Management11.9%$16,532 Ponds/Water Features1.6%$2,287 Lawn Care6.4%$8,892 Flower Shop (1)1.1%$1,575 Grower4.4%$6,086 Irrigation/Lighting0.9%$1,286 Greenhouse (1)2.4%$3,349 Miscellaneous (2)5.7%$7,965 Total100%$139,154 (1) Growers and greenhouses with retail operations; flower shops with garden centres.
(2) Includes: lawn equipment, hardware, tree services, ‘holidayscaping,’ container gardening, home and garden wares, cottage giftwares, arbors/gifts/accessories, wood construction, garden furniture, excavating/grading.

     The reported information on nearly 2,700 employees showed a vast majority of owner/manager business operations, and of seasonal labour, both full- and part-time.

Table 3: Personnel matrix
% of totalFull-timeF/T seasonalPart-time 94.5% report Managers17.5%89.8%8.9%1.3% 33.4% report Supervisors5.5%55.1%40.1%4.8% 65.4% report Skilled33.5%27.7%67.1%5.1% 65.9% report Unskilled43.5%7.9%57.2%34.9% 100.0%
Table 4: Distribution of personnel
% of totalFull-timeF/T seasonalPart time Landscape Construction33.1%30.0%36.0%29.6% Retail Garden Centre26.4%23.1%27.0%29.5% Grounds Management11.4%15.4%7.8%15.6% Grower (1)8.0%7.1%10.1%3.6% Lawn Care6.0%4.9%7.0%5.0% Greenhouse (1)3.5%3.1%4.6%1.2% Design/Consult/L.A.2.4%2.3%2.3%3.1% Snow Removal/Related1.9%2.5%1.8%1.2% Irrigation/Lighting1.9%1.2%1.8%3.1% Ponds/Water Features1.3%1.2%1.0%2.7% Flower Shop (1)0.7%1.3%0.0%1.8% Miscellaneous (2)3.4%8.0%0.7%3.7% Total100.0%100.0%100.0%100.0%                 (1) Growers and greenhouses with retail operations; flower shops with garden centres.
(2) Includes: lawn equipment, hardware, tree services, ‘holidayscaping,’ container gardening, home and garden wares, cottage giftwares, arbors/gifts/accessories, wood construction, garden furniture, excavating/grading.

Locations in Ontario
All but 10 of the 209 respondents provided a provincial location index, resulting in 133 different locations with up to six businesses in one area:
Central Ontario/Toronto94 (45.4%) Eastern Ontario28 (14.1%) Southwestern Ontario68 (34.2%) Northern Ontario9 (4.5%)

Industry revenues of over $4 billion?
Gross revenue figures for Ontario’s horticulture industry were projected in relatively general terms from this small sample, to show a possible 8,6003 businesses and $3.2 billion in revenues. Industry estimates there are as many as 75,000 employees across the province employed with nearly 12,000 business operations grossing approximately $4.4 billion annually. These results are not an accurate measurement of horticultural business activity in Ontario, as some sectors may be misrepresented or missing from the survey, and since total numbers of actual business operations are unknown. Activities in the golf, parks systems, municipal programs and floral industry sectors (among others) are not included in this survey. However, a system for the collection and reporting of business statistics has been implemented, and the gathering and comparison of additional future statistics will show trends in sector activities. A detailed study report will be available later in the year.

(3) 23 per cent of landscape workers (54,175) are full-time, year round: Stats Can, 1996 Census.

Ken Nentwig is a Researcher, Instructor, and Coordinator of both the Horticulture Program and the JJ Neilson Arboretum.

Monica Moore is a Research Assistant and Instructor in the Horticulture Program.

This study was prepared with the cooperation and assistance of OMAFRA and LOHTA.

For more information, contact: JJ Neilson Arboretum, Ridgetown College, University of Guelph, Ridgetown ON N0P 2C0, Tel: (519) 674-1628, Fax: (519) 674-1600, E-mail: