Floral industry veteran Lawrence Hopman has formed a new company to introduce flower farmers to chain store markets in Canada and the USA. The new venture is called Hopman Flower Farms and operates as a sourcing agency rather than a middleman. Transactions are all fulfilled directly between grower and retailer.
Hopman explains the rationale behind the project: “I’ve had a number of growers approach me over the years; tired of being at the mercy of wholesalers. They all wanted access to this market, but lacked the connected sales team, or the budget for qualified representatives. On the other side my retail buyers are always on the lookout for unique varieties, freshness, and value”. He goes on to explain how direct trading results in shorter transit times, fresher flowers, and lower landed costs: “We can hit most north American distribution centers within one to three days of harvest. Procuring through a re-packer or broker is a costly detour, which adds 24-36 hours to the shipping time”.
Based in Canada, the firm began operations in March, and essentially acts as a sales rep at large. The company manages the day to day sales activities between grower and buyer after introducing interested parties to each other. “We discovered a high level of interest from both sides right away, with shipments starting already in April”, Hopman reports.
Hopman insists that he adds no new costs to the final retail price. The firm is compensated for its efforts from the producers’ pre-existing marketing budgets. “There are already costs embedded in FOB pricing for sales activities. There are no salary, travel or employee costs to the grower as we only get paid, when they get paid”.
To ensure high standards, Hopman is on site with most of his growers every week inspecting crops, attending sales meetings, and sharing retail feedback. “We are very careful; cautions Hopman, about who we do business with. I’ve turned away as many producers as I’ve signed up. Our retailers are expecting grower integrity, with programs that show good margins and repeat sales."
The agency currently has contracts and deals in the works with producers in Canada, USA and Europe. Hopman began his floral career in 1995 driving a route sales truck for a Toronto area wholesaler. He has held positions in sales, sales management and procurement. Prior to launching the new enterprise, he worked as a senior account manager at Burlington, Canada based Aldershot Greenhouses Ltd.
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