Tag Archives: nurseries

The Finest Orchids in the World are Grown in Agra Tech Greenhouses


Richard Munoz, Operations Manager for McLellan/Tiasuco America

Richard Munoz, Operations Manager for McLellan/Tiasuco America

By using commercial greenhouses made by Agra Tech, one of the world’s leading manufacturers of greenhouses, McLellan/Tiasuco America grows incredible orchids completely indoor. In 2000, Rod McLellan’s botanical division was purchased by the Taiwan Sugar Company (Taisuco) one of the largest orchid growers on the planet. The purchase gave Taisuco a more prominent position in North America when it bought this long-standing family farm with two large growing operations in California and Texas.

McLellan/Orchid in Agra Tech greenhouseTiasuco America’s main nursery is located in Aromas, CA, in the agriculturally rich Pajaro Valley. Most of its orchids are sold to flower stores and farmer’s markets and also operates a retail store operating in the San Francisco Flower Mart.

By exchanging research, development and resources with its counterparts, McLellan/Tiasuco America has earned a worldwide reputation for growing high-quality orchid species and innovative varieties that are grown, selected, packaged and shipped to its customers around the country. While growing unique, award-winning orchids in its greenhouses for year-round delivery, the company also grows Taisuco’s spiral eucalyptus varieties in its surrounding fields, which are harvested and shipped throughout the world year-round.orchid-slideshow-2

Richard Munoz is the company’s operations manager, which means he supervises a staff of more than 100 people and manages the nursery in Aromas, CA. Munoz, 57, enjoys his job, because the technology is rapidly changing and each day provides new challenges, he said. “The driving force in this industry is the technology and it has changed considerably within the last 10 years. We’ve been adapting to the new innovations as they emerge, because we want to use all of the newest tools and systems out there, if possible, to grow the finest and healthiest orchids in the world.”

McLellan/Tiasuco America cultivates hardy varieties that can stand up to the challenges of retail distribution and a broad range of home environments. “The seedlings are shipped here from Tiasuco in Taiwan, so they’re going to be on a ship for 18-20 days,” Munoz said. “When we get them, some of them are distressed, so we have techniques we’ve developed to get them healthy again.”

oncidiumThe orchid varieties offered by the company range from the most popular: Phalaenopsis, Oncidium and Miltonia to the exotic: Paphiopedilum, Cattleyas and other seasonal varieties. “We get new varieties from Taiwan every year, maybe 3-4 annually,” Munoz explained. “We have the classic whites and various shades of pinks, yellows and oranges and striped or spotted patterns in all colors, probably more than a dozen in all.”

Between the two farms, McLellan/Tiasuco America grows 1.3 million orchids annually with year round availability. The standard pot sizes include 3”, 4” and 6” with a variety of flower sizes from mini to large and customers can buy them either fully bloomed or in the bud stage, based on their preferences and/or requirements.phalaenopsis

Munoz has been working closely with Adam Pound, his sales rep at Agra Tech, Inc. for several years now and greatly values the relationship for several reasons, he said. “Agra Tech has been building greenhouses with a long time and Adam is a great source of knowledge for us. He is always looking for new great solutions for us to grow better orchids and each one has worked well. In Aromas, we have a total of 230,000 square feet of greenhouses that we purchased from Agra Tech and they always work tremendously well.”paphiopedilum

Munoz loves the control that the Agra Tech greenhouses provide for McLellan/Tiasuco America. “We can grow the orchids more quickly and turn them faster,” he said. “We’re in the process of making everything computerized and right now Adam has helped us to changeover 70% of our systems. Eventually, we’ll be 100% computer-controlled, because we’re constantly upgrading and trying to be better. That’s why we’re so happy to be working with Agra Tech, because we get access to both their products and their expertise.”

Article by Edmund Attanasio

Additional Notes: The greenhouses were built in the 80’s and feature one of Agra Tech’s first Positive Pressure installations which is still providing insect exclusion and outstanding cooling even after 30 years. The customer stated that he gets a 5 to 7 degree temperature differential over 300’, unheard of in negative pressure greenhouses.

Munoz also told us that his maintenance cost for the Agra Tech greenhouses are almost nothing compared the other greenhouses on site.  1403394593000-00

Building Greenhouses Is Not Just a Job—It’s Also a Higher Calling at Kira Construction

Kira Logo For Agra TechKira Construction, Inc. is a North San Diego County-based construction company that builds greenhouses for a wide range of southern California growers, nurseries and propagation houses.  The highly experienced and knowledgeable team at Kira Construction taps into over 75 years of combined construction experience to build the best commercial greenhouses in the world, manufactured by Agra Tech, Inc., one of the leaders in the greenhouse industry.  With a stellar reputation based on safely producing quality greenhouses that feature exemplary workmanship, Kira Construction prides itself on offering some of the finest customer satisfaction in the industry today, by meeting stringent deadlines and completion projects on-time.

Agra Tech built by Kira Construction

Agra Tech built by Kira Construction

KIra Construction’s Owner Ralph Cox started working on greenhouses in 2009 when a friend called him and asked for help.  “A buddy of mine at Archi’s Acres (a San Diego greenhouse grower) called and asked me would I be willing to help them to build their greenhouse and I said why not,” Cox explained. “We built them an Agra Tech 35’ x 120’ greenhouse and we pretty much learned on the job. After that project, I decided to learn as much as I could about greenhouse construction and all of the other things that come with it, like hydroponic systems, bench fabrication, heating, etc. Now we specialize in ground-up greenhouse construction as well as renovations, modernizations, repairs, retrofits and additions to residential and commercial greenhouses and shade house industries. It’s become a big part of our business and now we’re known as the greenhouse construction company.”

Agra Tech construction

Agra Tech construction

Owner Ralph Cox started his company in 2008 after getting laid off as a Field Superintendent, a position he had held for 20 years.  He decided to pursue greenhouse construction as a full-time thing five years ago and he hasn’t looked back since. Cox likes the variety of the work and enjoys interacting with greenhouse farmers. “We work with large and small growers, nurseries, schools and institutions,” he said. “Many of them are commercial farmers, but we also get our fair share of hobbyists, who want smaller greenhouses, and that’s fine. ‘ No job too small or too large’ is our motto and every customer gets the same excellent customer service that we offer. As a North San Diego County greenhouse contracting company, we are able to build agricultural structures at fair, reasonable and competitive prices. And by working with Agra Tech, we have a distinct advantage, because every grower in this area knows and respects the Agra Tech name.”

Today, Kira Construction’s workload is almost all greenhouse construction. The company has a crew of six professionals and is busy almost all the time. “Our niche is now greenhouse construction and we’re proud to be in this industry,” Cox said. “Each project is totally different and that’s one thing I really like about this business. We may get a citrus grower one month and then the next month, we’ll do some work for a small grower of specialty leafy vegetables. It’s always changing and that keeps us excited, because we never know what’s going to happen next.”

Cox is happy to be working in an industry that is growing at a rapid rate. “More than ever, people want to grow their own food,” Cox said.  “There is a huge demand for locally grown organic foods and the benefits are two-fold. By growing high-quality food for their own consumption or to sell locally, these greenhouse growers are helping themselves, their families and the people in their region. We’re a construction company, but we have a higher calling and an important role in today’s society, because we create the structures in which this food is grown.”

Assembling an Agra Tech greenhouse is not a do-it-yourself job and Cox warns people that they will need assistance and guidance to put one together, for several reasons. “Some folks look at it and say—hey I can do this myself by working on it during the weekend,” Cox said. “But I tell them that it’s not that easy. Building an Agra Tech greenhouse is like building a small home. There is a lot of grading and planning and a certain level of complexity to do it right. A small greenhouse can take as little as one week to build, while a larger one can take up to 2-3 months, depending on the situation. My advice is to hire a construction company to assemble your greenhouse and avoid potential problems down the road.”

Cox loves the support and knowledge offered by the professionals at Agra Tech, Inc. “The people at Agra Tech are always available to give us advice and guide us through projects if needed,” Cox said. “Jim Bergantz is our contact at Agra Tech and we call on him often, because he is an incredible source of information and the guy is passionate about this industry. These people are focused on doing an excellent job and if we ever need anything, they’re right there to help us. If there is any issue, I know that Agra Tech will do whatever it takes to make it right and that’s why I love working with them.”