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Producing Excellence

Eric Tanouye

Hilo, HI

Green Point Nurseries, Inc.

Products Raised or Grown: Tropical flowers and plants

Size of Operation: 25+ acres

In Business Since: 1977

Farm Credit Partner: Farm Credit Services of Hawaii

Working with Farm Credit Since: 2002

When most people think of sending flowers to a loved one or choosing flowers for a wedding, Anthuriums aren’t necessarily the first bloom to come to mind. But providing these and other tropical flowers – stems such as Birds of Paradise and orchids as well as a variety of finished leis – is what has helped Green Point Nurseries grow from its founding in 1977 to a thriving international business today.

Harold Tanouye established the business when he recognized a demand for Anthuriums, which Hawaii-based military personnel had begun sending home to parents and girlfriends during World War II. Since that time, Green Point has increased both the variety of flowers it grows and the volume it sells and ships, today growing its tropical flowers and potted plants on more than 25 acres of shade and plastic covered houses.

As with any successful business, Green Point focuses on quality products and attention to customer service for both its retail and wholesale customers. “We focus on quality from harvest through packing to delivery to our customers,” says Eric Tanouye, Harold's son who now manages Green Point Nurseries. “Our quality gives us a beautiful product that allows us to differentiate ourselves from the competition.”

From its inception, this family-owned business has also focused on innovation. They were the first to use hermetically sealed, gusseted plastic bags inside cardboard cartons for delivery, a practice that has become the industry standard. They were among the first to build large shade houses for growing, and were the first large-scale grower to grow their plants in cinder, a by-product of the volcanoes in Hawaii.

“We have made it because of innovation,” said Harold Tanouye when he served as president of the family operation. “We won’t be here for very long unless we continue innovating.” Most of these innovations have focused on gaining a better understanding of how they use water and adapting their fertilization program to conserve resources, lowering costs and increasing production.

Many of these innovations are also developed with sustainability in mind: minimizing erosion, keeping the cinder “soil” sterile so it can last 30 years or more, and building and maintaining greenhouses so they’ll last longer than 35 years. “Cultural practices in Hawaii have always been sensitive to protecting the immediate environment,” says Eric. “Since we live where we work, everything we do is with the next generation in mind.”

Harold Tanouye passed away in September 2013, and Eric is now running Green Point Nurseries.

Download a PDF version of this story here.