Ivan Schuening and his son Kip of Oregon Valley Greenhouses go to the Northwest Ag Show each year to meet potential customers and offer them money-saving advice.
Almost since its inception 30 years ago, the Aurora, Ore., manufacturer of outdoor structures has led the industry in Oregon, Washington and Idaho and is now in 27 states and five countries.
“We’ve never hired a salesman,” Ivan Schuening said. “We’ve built our business solely on reputation and word-of-mouth.”
Among the types of structures the company produces are dairy barns, livestock shelters, hay sheds, winter equipment storage, row covers and greenhouses. One important tip when buying such structures is checking the county building codes, he said.
“Unnecessarily building to code can double the cost of a greenhouse frame,” Schuening said. “Most don’t have to be code.”
Oregon passed a law 15 years ago for nurseries and farmers with agricultural zoning that says cold frame tunnels need not be code structures, something still not widely known.
Equally important, Schuening said, is clarifying a proposed greenhouse’s pipe size and wall thickness before you buy.
“We try to build for the area the greenhouse is going to,” Schuening said. “For example, if they’re in a high snow area such as Eastern Oregon, Colorado or Montana, we try to put them into a 30 wide with 2 3/8 bows. A lot of manufacturers will sell them at a 1 7/8.”
“Make sure the pipe is either 10- or 13-gauge,” he added. “If they just say it’s a 2 3/8 house you don’t know if you’re getting a 16-, 13- or 10-gauge pipe. Under a snow load the side walls and the center will drop.
“They look the same from the outside,” he said. “You only want to put the house up once.”
He and Kip have advised many people of such matters over Oregon Valley Greenhouse’s 27 years at the Northwest Ag Show.
“It’s more informative — and we get to see our customers that we never see otherwise,” he said.