Mexico: Greenleaf opens first international operation center

Greenleaf Flower Growers and Distributors announces the opening of its 10th location and its first international operation center. This 20,000 square ft facility is located within a 20-hectare flower farming complex and becomes home of the company’s Mexican Flower entity (Four Brothers Farms) near Ixtapan de la Sal. Four Brothers Farms is a wholly owned entity of Greenleaf.

The facility, located in Central Mexico, will house all of the company’s Mexican floral operations. Four Brothers Farms will execute, oversee, and coordinate growing operations with hand-selected growers, harvesting, post-harvest processes, pre-cooling, packaging, and coordinate all logistics for exporting. Four Brothers Farms is also a floral gift products manufacturer producing and packaging giftware that includes preserved flowers. Greenleaf (the importing arm) will act as the broker of record, purchase and distribute products grown and assembled in Mexico throughout the United States. 

Fresh flowers will also be grown, harvested, purchased then trucked to the operations center via the company’s own trucking division in Mexico.  “This country has amazing flowers,” says Beth O’Reilly, AIFD, Director of Merchandise and Marketing at Greenleaf. Beth has walked the fields and inspected product that includes “awesome tropical flowers” such as; birds of paradise, anthurium, ginger, heliconia, orchids, protea, an expansive variety of exotic blooms, as well as outstanding varieties of roses, alstromeria, and hundreds of other specialty cut flowers. Four Brothers Farms will enable Greenleaf to access flowers from Mexico’s southernmost territory where lush greenery can be harvested, throughout the east, west, and the northern growing regions of the country. 

Additionally, this summer, Greenleaf will launch weekly truck service from Mexico on its own tractor-trailers into Miami, Florida. “We are extremely excited about bringing some of the world’s most exotic and sensational flowers and making them available nationally,” says Rob Spikol, Greenleaf’s President and CEO.

Greenleaf has been operating in Mexico since 1995 and over the last two years has made significant investments by expanding its presence; purchasing tractor trailers, developing new strategic initiatives, and placing our operations center within the country. “This expansion is the largest of its kind,” says Stuart Kitayama who moved to Mexico 25 years ago in order to research the flower regions, search for great farms, and explore every option for the company. At the time Stuart and his wife Carol packed up their two young daughters and entrenched themselves in the local culture. After a few years in Mexico, Stuart moved back to California to lead the move to specialty cut flowers and away from roses at the family’s US farm (KB Farms) in Watsonville, California.

“We could not have accomplished this move if it wasn’t for our founders pioneering spirit 25 years ago,” Rob Spikol said. Greenleaf with Four Brother’s Farms is the only flower company of its kind in North America.  “Our tradition is growing,” and that’s exactly what we intend to do, Spikol says.

Greenleaf entered a turbulent period as they faced challenges within its segment of floral distribution. “Our industry changes quickly,” he continued. "Our company needed to change, we had to adapt to new demands and be more responsive to customer demands we needed to focus on where business will be, instead of where it was.” Spikol joined the company as COO in 2015 and was promoted to President in 2017. 

Greenleaf closed a number of underperforming locations and at the same time remained laser-focused on building a company for the future. With the help of some of the most talented people in the industry and a Board of Directors that are committed to “winning” they began the difficult process of developing a company for the future. “We ripped apart just about everything.” said Spikol. "We worked along with our vendors and engaged all our employees as this work pushed and challenged them for weeks and months. Today, thanks to our most valuable asset, our people and our partners, we are significantly stronger than we were, and looking forward to the next 60 years as a healthier, optimistic company with a vision and on a path to new levels of success," he continued.

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