Tell us about the company’s history.
Harrell’s has been around since 1941, starting out as a feed store in Lakeland, Fla. It wasn’t long before our founder, Jack Harrell, started developing relationships with nearby golf course superintendents, and as a result, started selling them fertilizer. That became our entry point to the golf market, which we’re very strong in today across the country. Within the past few decades we’ve expanded into the horticultural market, focusing on greenhouse and nursery growers, while also moving into western states with reps in Colorado, California and southwestern states.
What are your main products?
Harrell’s is best known for a controlled-release fertilizer called POLYON. It is unique among fertilizers because it releases nutrients based on soil temperature. Unlike other slow-release products that may depend on water or the natural breakdown of the coating to determine when the fertilizer is released, POLYON releases only during specific temperature ranges. This provides nutrition for plants only when they are actively growing. It’s like an “on/off” switch. In fact, our team of scientists will look at 30 years of climate data to develop a custom formula to determine the optimal temperature ranges. We also test water quality, soil properties and plant tissues to make sure we have the best formula possible, custom formulated for the grower. It’s a great service to our customers. We also supply a large selection of grower inputs, including specialty fertility products, wetting agents, and a variety of crop protection options, including biological controls.
What advantages does Harrell’s offer its customers?
Service and support. Every Harrell’s field rep is a horticulturist. Customers can call me anytime for anything. We work together with our growers to develop custom solutions that are best suited for their specific crop and specific growing environment.
What’s changing with your grower customers?
Within our customer base, we’re noticing more use of our POLYON product in annuals and ornamental production. This is actually a win-win-win situation. Growers get better and more consistent results. The retail customer ends up with essentially a “self-feeding plant” and that helps them feel better about their gardening skills since their plants are healthier. Plus, the retailer has a satisfied customer that will return again to buy plants.
How does Harrell’s differ from other companies you’ve worked for?
Harrell’s is an employee-owned company, which is new for me. That makes me think differently, like an owner rather than just an employee. Secondly, Harrell’s core values, which you can view on our website, align closely to mine. Finally, our CEO Jack Harrell Jr. truly values his employees. His guiding principle is: “Take care of your employees. Employees will take care of the customers. Customers will take care of the company.”
What do you like most about being a CNGA member?
It’s fun! I really enjoy all the events that CNGA offers where I can meet new people and reconnect with old friends. A natural outcome of attending the events is making valuable business connections.