Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Convertible Greenhouse Co. teams up with Missoula non-profit

Partners revolutionize greenhouse design and production.
The new Convertible Greenhouse Co. in Missoula is not only producing opportunity for gardeners to extend their growing seasons with its unique designs, but it is also producing work for employees at Opportunity Resources Inc. — the local nonprofit that employs people with disabilities.

The made-in-Montana greenhouse kits are manufactured mostly at ORI’s facility on Russell Street and will provide additional employment opportunities for ORI’s workforce, work that had declined since the closure of Smurfit-Stone Container Corp.

“Two years ago, I read an article about Opportunity Resources losing $400,000 of annual contract work that it received from the mill,” said Jeff Howard, CGC president. “At the time I was developing the greenhouse concept and thought that Opportunity Resources might just be the perfect manufacturing partner to help fill its need for work and mine for manpower.”

Today, Howard and Jack Chambers, CEO of ORI, are working together to produce Howard’s patented greenhouses, and Howard and ORI jointly own CGC. The greenhouse kits will be assembled and shipped nationwide, utilizing clients and staff from both ORI’s wood products division and its production and assembly division. As many as 50 employees will be involved in producing the greenhouses, and ORI hopes to increase that number as the company grows. The partners are also working with three local manufacturers to supply various components.

“I believed in Howard’s greenhouse products and the manufacturing model from the onset,” said Chambers. “It’s a very nice fit for the work we provide our employees, and the product itself is unique, affordable and very functional. I think gardeners will definitely like it.”

There are no other greenhouses quite like CGC’s, said Howard, a lifelong gardener. He’s designed the greenhouses to be functional and affordable for both hobby and professional gardeners. The greenhouses are manufactured from high-performance 6-mil greenhouse film with an all-metal frame construction. Howard has patented the hinged design that, along with the pulley system, makes opening and accessing plants easier than other greenhouse designs. The greenhouses can be used in the middle of a garden, against the side of a building or over a raised bed.

“I’ve designed the greenhouse to be the heart of the garden,” Howard said. “They’re completely versatile and can be used to start seedlings in early spring, used through the summer and used into fall and winter to extend the growing season.”

The greenhouses come in four different models, which start at $449 and cost up to $995. The SouthSider Junior (6 feet by 9 feet) and SouthSider (9 feet by 8.5 feet) maximize space by using the side of a building as support —ideal models for the urban gardener with limited space. The Arch model is 9 feet by 12 feet and both sides open fully and easily for total access. The GardenPro is the largest and highest-priced model. It is 9 feet by 17 feet and features an 8-foot tall interior ridge and a door for added convenience.

Howard and Chambers see a market for the greenhouses not only in northern climates, like Montana, but throughout the country and into the South where gardeners want a year-round growing season and more controlled environment.

Using the greenhouse model, Howard has also designed vinyl-covered storage units that can be used in place of traditional storage sheds and are easily portable.

The greenhouses and storage units can be ordered directly from CGC’s website at

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