This 20-bay gutter connected greenhouse is currently under construction at McCorkle Nurseries.

After receiving quotes from several manufacturers for a new greenhouse project, Chris McCorkle had a good feeling about going with Atlas Manufacturing from McCorkle Nurseries’ home state of Georgia. He felt even better when Mark Davis, the company’s owner, personally delivered some of the greenhouse’s components.

“The fact that they still highly value relationships with customers and go beyond getting the sale to cultivating a relationship gives me confidence in the sustainability of the company and quality of the product,” McCorkle says.

There was much more to the decision than Georgia pride or sentimentality.

When McCorkle Nurseries began adding its greenhouse ranges, Chris McCorkle, the operations manager at the 75-year-old wholesale nursery, did an analysis of the cost per square foot of gutter connected vs. freestanding style. While the gutter connect was a little more expensive per square foot, McCorkle still chose that style of greenhouse for a few reasons. Primarily, space. The gutter connect ranges allow him to utilize 100 percent of his available space. With freestanding Quonset houses, a grower needs at least two feet of space between each house. That’s space that isn’t being used to grow plants.

When comparing proposals, McCorkle asked Atlas for references of other growers who have installed the company’s structures at their nurseries. “That’s the great thing about this industry,” he says. “I can call another grower and they can give me the pros and cons of their experiences with the product and contractor. In our industry, if you have a bad reputation everyone seems to know it.”

McCorkle considers structure choice a value proposition. He could have chosen a less-durable, less-expensive structure, but opted for a product that both he and the manufacturer are confident will withstand any wind or snow load it could possibly encounter. And while he knows his operation’s needs better than anyone, he still asks his greenhouse manufacturer plenty of questions.

“While I have a certain set of requirements I’m going to have for that greenhouse, I’m going to rely greatly on their knowledge and expertise when it comes to their product to spec something they’re confident will meet my needs,” he says.

McCorkle Nurseries is currently building a 126,000-square-foot range – the nurseries’ fifth range of gutter-connected houses. These structures are primarily used for overwintering woody ornamentals, McCorkle says.

McCorkle plans to build another range in the next 12 months, and it will probably be another gutter connect range from Atlas.

“It’s a high-quality product. And they provide exceptional point-of-sale service, and through installation, the contractors they utilized have been very easy to work with,” McCorkle said. “They just bend over backwards to help in any way they can. It’s easy for someone to quote you something and sell it to you, but they’ve been very responsive to whatever request or need we’ve had through the entirety of this project.”