A new greenhouse company in Missoula, Mont., is not only designing greenhouses with new patented technology but is also using a unique manufacturing model. To fulfill its production needs, the Convertible Greenhouse Co. recently partnered with Opportunity Resources Inc., a Montana-based nonprofit organization that employs people with disabilities.
“We’ve designed the greenhouses to be the heart of the garden,” said Jeff Howard, CGC president. “And for Opportunity Resources the greenhouse manufacturing unit is becoming an integral part of its organization, providing valuable employment opportunities for its diverse workforce.”
Howard was looking for a manufacturing partner for his greenhouses when he learned of ORI losing contract work after a local paper mill closed. Now, ORI’s wood shop employees are busy cutting the shelf and bench components utilized in the greenhouses. ORI employees also assemble and ship the greenhouse kits.
“I believed in Howard’s greenhouse products and the manufacturing model from the onset,” said Jack Chambers, CEO of ORI. “It’s a very nice fit for the work we provide our employees. The product itself is high quality and very functional. I think gardeners will definitely like it.”
Howard, a lifelong gardener who as a boy started growing tomatoes with his grandfather, said that there aren’t any other greenhouses quite like CGC’s. He’s designed the greenhouses for hobby and professional gardeners at prices affordable for both.
The greenhouses are manufactured from high-performance 6-mil greenhouse film with an all-metal frame construction. Howard has patented several designs that make opening the greenhouse and accessing plants simpler than other greenhouse designs — especially important for gardeners who work alone. The greenhouses can be used in the middle of a garden or against the side of a building and are also ideal for use over a raised bed.
“I don’t know of any other design that works as well on raised beds,” Howard said. “Because you can open the entire side of each greenhouse you get full access to your entire bed.”
Whether using the greenhouse on a raised bed or another spot in the garden, CGC’s greenhouses provide for maximum space efficiency — every square foot within the greenhouse can be used for plants. The optional shelves and benches can provide even more growing space.
The greenhouses come in four different models, which start at $449 for the SouthSider Junior — the smallest model that covers a 6-by-9-foot area. It and the slightly larger SouthSider (9 by 8.5 feet) maximize space by using the side of a building as support — ideal for the urban gardener with limited space. The Arch model is 9 feet by 12 feet and opens fully from either side, providing 100 percent access to the garden bed. The GardenPro model is the largest and highest-priced model at $995. It is 9 feet by 17 feet and features an 8-foot tall interior ridge and a door for added convenience.
The greenhouses’ hinge technology makes it convenient for use year-round. Gardeners can give plants full access to the elements by simply raising the ends, and closing the greenhouse provides shelter from too much rain, hail or snow as well as protection from animals.
“Our greenhouses are extremely flexible,” added Howard, “whether you’re in the North and want to get your seeds established before spring arrives or you’re in the South and want a more controlled environment for your flowers and vegetables.”
ORI in early 2011 became a joint owner of CGC.
The greenhouses can be ordered directly from CGC’s website at http://www.convertiblegreenhouse.com.
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