Blog Angelle van Kleef (Canada): New customers

The month of May was incredibly wet, with 142mm of rainfall. The weather was bad throughout Ontario; the locks in the Saint Lawrence River were raised and the water of Lake Ontario reached unusually high levels. In various places, people were using sandbags to keep the water out. At our own nursery, the ground water level went up by 4 feet (around 1.20m). Luckily, our sandy soil managed it pretty well.

With regards to our extension plans, preparations have started in the form of levelling the building site. It’s looking good. And as for the weather, temperatures went up to 31 °C this week. Summer is here.

Unfortunately, we heard last week that one of our large customers for bromeliads is drastically reducing his plant and flower trade activities. Ever since the financial crisis, the plant and flower trade has been characterised by some strong competition.  The margins were low and customers would be visited by several different wholesaler lorries.

It was time to change course. And that’s what our customer did. But that put us in a bit of an awkward position this week. This particular customer used to purchase 25% of the bromeliads that we sell through intermediary services. So it’s time for us to change course, too. We’re talking to a wholesaler who might take over this account. It’s a transitional phase and we’re trying to guide the change, as far as that’s possible. We’ll have to adjust our sales strategy and try to respond appropriately to the unexpected change.

Meanwhile, we’ve received the quotations from various contractors for the installation of a greenhouse, heating, screening and irrigation systems. Some of the quotations are very close to each other, in which case we opt for the contractor that we happen to know already, or that has a proven record of high quality.

For one of the contracts, the different quotations are all similar, but they’re more or less double the amount compared with the quotation we got a few years ago. Pretty odd, considering that there haven’t been huge changes with regards to materials and labour. Another surprise that we need to respond to.

Luckily, there’s always plenty to do outside the nursery, too. On the 1st of July, Canada will be celebrating its 150th anniversary. There will be festivities throughout the country. Including events like Canada Day Parades, festivals and large fireworks displays. Our local brewery, New Limburg, decided to colour their white beer red for the occasion. We’ve been picking red hibiscus flowers for them during the past two weeks. These were brewed into a tea, which they subsequently added to their beer.

We’re all looking forward to the celebrations. Happy Canada Day!

Angelle van Kleef,

Grower of potted plants, Ontario Canada


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