Tag Archives: #Positive-Pressure

Large Companies Tap into Agra Tech’s Knowledge and Cutting-Edge Products

Woodland R & D Facility

Agra Tech, manufacturer of commercial greenhouses and located in Pittsburg, CA, works with small growers all the way to the largest agricultural providers in the world because they value Agra Tech for its extensive experience, innovative spirit and extensive knowledge.

Commercial R & D Greenhouse - HVAC distribution corridor

Commercial R & D Greenhouse – HVAC distribution corridor

Adam Pound is an Account Manager at Agra Tech and he works with some of these mega-sized companies, so he is aware of what they need and what they expect from any commercial greenhouse company.

Recently, Agra Tech signed a three-year vendor agreement with one of the aforementioned mega-sized R&D customers, a global company with a facility in Woodland, CA, where they breed and grow seeds for vegetables to be sold worldwide. Featuring nine acres containing 60-plus greenhouses, this company is able to simulate all of the climates where they market their seeds.

Because Agra Tech is a highly-respected commercial greenhouse provider, this billion dollar company signed a deal with Agra Tech, but it did not happen overnight. “Once they saw what we could bring to the table, they decided to work with us,” Adam Pound explained. “We started working with them 3 years ago. Initially they were dealing with 23 vendors world-wide and now it is down to 2. After sitting down with them and outlining all of their needs and challenges, we were able to reach an agreement that will take them into their next phase. By integrating some of our patented innovations into their greenhouses, we’ve been able to help them in areas such as employee safety and insect exclusion, among others.”

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Exterior Fall Protection Scaffold

The safety innovation that Agra Tech has provided for this large corporation is called the Fall Protection Scaffold System that provides an added level of safety for workers operating both inside and outside the greenhouse. Exceeding OSHA standards, these systems include special engineering of the greenhouse to support the weight and inertia of workers should they fall. By using this scaffolding system, workers will not hit the ground in the event of a fall and the greenhouse will retain its structural integrity.

Interior Trolley Fall Protection

Interior Trolley Fall Protection

There are two different types of scaffolding available by Agra Tech: One for the exterior to maintain the coverings and another for the interior of the greenhouse that runs under the ridge, featuring planks and a trolley that run along the length of the greenhouse. To use it, workers simply snap their safety harnesses the trolley that runs under the ridge to access the roof vent and maintain the screens.

 

The other cutting-edge feature that this large R&D grower wanted to embrace is Agra Tech’s Agri Kool, a positive pressure cooling system designed to prevent insect entry into the greenhouse growing area. Developed in 1992, this system has proven to be superior over negative pressure cooling, the way many greenhouses were using for decades and still do.

Positive Pressure cooling system being installed

Positive Pressure cooling being installed

“Positive pressure is better at keeping insects out and that’s the bottom line,” Adam Pound said. “This client started using it several years ago and eventually they will be using it in all of their 60 greenhouses. Positive pressure also leads to higher crop yields, temperature uniformity and faster plant growth. Scientists that are developing seeds need uniform temperatures and they also don’t want to have to use pesticides during the growth stage, because they can impede growth. Whenever you spray a pesticide on a plant, it will slow down its growth for days, even weeks. By using our patented positive pressure system, the plants can grow uninterrupted.”

Adam_Pound

Adam_Pound

Adam Pound and the Pound family are pleased to be working with all of its customers—from small mom and pop operations all the way to the largest corporations in the world—but signing a contract with a massive R&D company is certainly big news and a very good thing for Agra Tech, Adam Pound said.

“By being associated with a well-known name is good for the company and good for our future,” he said. “We’re big enough to handle any size project and small enough to be responsive. We give them all the best customer service in the industry. By offering our clients more value, we make their decisions a little easier. It’s all about building relationships in any business and this one is surely no exception.”

Written by Edmund Attanasio

Ed

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

Let’s Meet Agra Tech’s Jim Bergantz, Sales Engineer

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Jim Bergantz working on a new project.

 

Q: Jim, please tell us about your background when it relates to farming, agriculture and greenhouse farming?

JB: “I literally grew up in a greenhouse and purchased my parents’ retail nursery and wholesale/retail growing operation right after graduating from college. That’s where I found my passion in growing bedding plants, native trees, shrubs and poinsettias and learned there is no substitute for getting your hands dirty and working hard. I loved the challenges the business presented;  meeting greenhouse heating and cooling requirements in the extreme heat and cold of foothills weather, managing a seasonal staff, adjusting cultural variables to make sure plants were blooming or colored-up to meet the demands of our customers at holiday times. To promote our business, I developed a weekly radio show which aired for one hour every Saturday and afforded me the opportunity to interface with interesting experts in our field.”

Q: The life’s journey that brought you to work for Agra Tech is inspiring. Please share it with us.

JB:  “Life events prompted the closing of our nursery and I became involved in a different line of work. Though I left horticulture for a time, it never left me.  Our local high school here in Angels Camp, CA has a stellar agriculture program which has won several national awards. Every day I passed the school’s empty greenhouse and decided I’d like to become involved in getting the beautiful facility up and running. With a green light from the Ag faculty, I mounted a volunteer effort to raise the funds necessary to get the cooling system operational, installing an energy curtain system and high tech environmental controls which I knew were essential for the success of a new program. I learned the greenhouse had been manufactured by Agra Tech, Inc., one of the world’s leading manufacturers of commercial greenhouses. Ray Pound, who had originally constructed the structure, was instrumental in providing the technical advice and hands-on support I needed. As more and more people in our community joined to support my efforts, our scope grew. In all, we were able to raise over $30,000 in donated funds to create a self-sustaining program to educate students in how to raise a healthy crop and bring it to market. I enjoyed this volunteer effort so much that I went on to earn my credential as an agriculture educator. Shortly after the greenhouse was up and running, I found myself suddenly very unemployed due to corporate downsizing.  That’s when I phoned Ray Pound at Ag Con again; this time to ask him if he knew of anyone with a job opening. He suggested I phone his brother John who hired me at Agra Tech soon after our first meeting.”

Q: You have a higher purpose to be involved in this industry and I can tell you’re very driven and passionate about your job at Agra Tech. Please explain.

JB: “I strive to make information about agriculture and horticulture accessible to anyone who wants to learn. Education is exciting to me–both when I am sharing information and when I am receiving it.  There are opportunities for me to learn every day and I love being part of this dynamic industry.”

Q: Name several of the more noteworthy projects you’ve been involved in during your employment at ATI?

JB: “Each project we work on is unique and presents site-specific requirements.  There may be nothing more exciting than to stand inside a newly-constructed greenhouse that meets the requirements of our client.   Among the highlights, it’s been my privilege to work on the positive pressure commercial greenhouse for the Lincove Research Facility and on the insect exclusion greenhouse for Willits and Newcomb.”

Q: What is your title at Agra Tech and what is your job description?

JB: “As a sales engineer at Agra Tech, it’s my job to make sure the client has the information necessary to make decisions pertinent to the construction of greenhouses to meet his needs.  It is also important to be available to the customer long after his project has been completed. I enjoy this interface with our customers and make myself readily accessible to them in order to facilitate excellent customer service and satisfaction.”

Q: Tell us what your average work week is like.

JB: “There really is no “average” work week here at Agra Tech. My day is dictated by the needs of our customers whether those needs require me to be in the office or on the road. I travel extensively so that I am able to be of service to my customers.”

Q: How do you think this industry will change within the next 10-20 years?

JB: “In the future, I see Agra Tech at the center of advancements in controlled environmental agriculture.  Insect exclusion structures will continue to be vitally important for the health of plants and the industry at large.  Our company strives to provide the best possible solutions for its customers.”

Q: Tell us some personal things about you, Jim.

JB: “I enjoy my life in the rural community of Murphys, CA, where I have a deep interest in the native vegetation, geology and wildlife that makes the area so naturally beautiful. My wife is the secretary at an elementary school and writes a column about foothills gardening for Sierra Lodestar. My daughter Jill is Director of Sales for an engineering/manufacturing firm and my other daughter Jane is a pediatric nurse who cares for children who have undergone organ transplantation.”

Q: Describe why you like working for a family business like Agra Tech.

JB: “I am passionate about my work at Agra Tech because it satisfies my creativity, allows building relationships with clients and gives me the opportunity to facilitate sales and construction of world-class agricultural structures to the industry’s finest growers. What can I say about working for the Pound family?  They are excellent employers who appreciate their employees and are proud of their business.  They are creative, innovative thinkers striving to create solutions to 21st century needs. It’s extremely exciting to work for such a dynamic company!”

Q:What are your personal and professional goals?

JB:  “I love my job and strive to continue learning from my customers on each project we work together to develop and construct. In the future I look toward continuing to move ATI and agriculture-at-large forward with the advent of new concepts and solutions for our industry. These are exciting times! On a personal level, I continue work in my community to sow “Seeds of Kindness” in our schools. Over the past several years, this effort has grown to include all 22 schools in our county. It’s a remarkable program which affords me the opportunity to work with an inspiring group of educators and students. We help children and adults to focus on the connections we have with one another and how we, as individuals, may influence others in a positive way.”

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Jim sampling a tomato grown in an Agra Tech greenhouse

Written by Ed Attanasio