Part of a project manager’s job is to manage the timing of installation of benches and lighting systems.
Beginning a greenhouse construction project can feel a bit intimidating. The financial investment along with the need for the greenhouse to successfully fulfill its intended purpose means expectations are high. As a company that has manufactured, designed and built greenhouses for decades, Stuppy Greenhouse understands these pressures and has processes and people in place to make sure the project is successful.
One of these people is a project manager. Not all greenhouse companies have this position, but larger ones, such as Stuppy, do. The project manager is the single point of contact in coordination with the client’s salesperson, and both work to continuously support the customer throughout the entire process. But much of the work the project manager does is behind the scenes.
“The project manager answers questions from the client, the architect and the different trade professionals who are involved in the construction,” says Anna Haley, vice president and director of project management for Stuppy. “I work with the general contractor and coordinate the electrical, plumbing and other trades so all of these actions occur as seamlessly as possible and with as few delays as possible. This isn’t something the client necessarily sees, but it’s essential to the project going smoothly.”
A series of new PowerHouse® greenhouses in various stages of construction.
Haley’s job may involve working with the electrician and the electrical company to answer questions about line voltage and connectivity, for instance. Or helping a customer with a warranty issue. She makes sure that when Stuppy is working in states that require a contractor’s license, the company has or obtains a license in that state.
Clear Communication is Essential
One of the most important parts of Haley’s job is at the very beginning. “It’s essential that the customer has a clear understanding of what we will do and what they need to do,” she says. “It’s a true partnership.”
Haley says clients who are building a greenhouse for the first time often think Stuppy takes care of everything from beginning to end, such as site preparation and building permits, which are not services the company can provide. “However, we work with customers through those challenges and provide guidance on what needs to happen,” she says.
Haley also works with the customer to set realistic expectations for the project’s timeline and says that’s why it is so important to have transparency and clear communication at the beginning. She works with customers long before ground is ever broken to explain what is possible in a timely fashion and why it requires that time frame. “We try very hard to work all of that out before anything starts,” Haley says. In fact, some of her most rewarding projects have been when customers have had some unrealistic expectations, but she helped to work through them. “In the end, when I’m standing with the owners, and they are tremendously pleased with the greenhouse and how they are using it – that’s my reward,” Haley says. “We are able to provide them with a quality product and they are appreciative of our dedication.”
Project managers are familiar with the construction needs of all of Stuppy’s greenhouse models, including this CS3 house.
Educational Greenhouses Bring Unique Challenges
An important segment of Stuppy’s clients are schools and universities, and those projects come with some different challenges.
“Typically, there is a general contractor and an architect with whom we are working to provide the greenhouse,” Haley says. “Sometimes it’s just a greenhouse project by itself, and sometimes it’s part of a larger expansion project if they are building a new addition for the school or university. Workers are required to have criminal background checks, and while safety is always a high priority for any project, it’s especially important within a school setting.”
At the basic level, clear communication about timelines and expectations is just as important with these clients as it is with commercial customers. Because school greenhouses might be used for research, a growing environment, a classroom, or all of these, it’s especially important to understand the intended use before the project begins, Haley says.
Because school maintenance staff may not be familiar with the particular requirements of greenhouses, Stuppy provides them with an operation and maintenance manual that includes warranty information and a checklist. “It lays out what they need to do in 90 days, what they need to check in six months, a year or every five years,” Haley says. “It’s everything that will help them understand how to keep their greenhouse functioning for as long as possible.”
It’s essential to target the primary use of an educational greenhouse up front, whether for research, a growing environment, a classroom, or all of these.
It is not uncommon for Haley and her team to receive a complimentary email from the teachers and staff saying how happy they are with the greenhouse and how excited they are about the possibilities it provides them. “That’s really wonderful from my perspective, because I know we are delivering a quality product that will give back to the school district for a very long time. In fact, the best thing about my job is that Stuppy as a company is paying it forward by providing greenhouses for whomever the customer is, whether it’s commercial or educational. We are contributing to future generations and that gives me a greater amount of satisfaction than I can easily express.”
Ask the experts at Stuppy how you can get started on a greenhouse upgrade or new structures.