Alex van Hoekelen of Van Hoekelen Greenhouses

US (PA): "Easter 2020 was terrible. This year, it is completely the opposite"

Last year, they were worrying about dumping, now they are working overtime to fulfill the orders. However, the most concerning this year are the high freight prices. "The pandemic affected the supply chain and it hasn't come back to what it should be. For about two months now, freight costs are very high," explains Alex van Hoekelen of Van Hoekelen Greenhouses in Kline Township (PA), They are one of the largest bulb growers on the East coast and supply their products to supermarkets and big box companies all over the US and have their own garden center. And after last year's success, they again organized their Drive Thru Easter Flower Box Sale this week.

Demand outreaching supply
Alex is very pleased with the demand this year. "Easter 2020 was terrible as orders were cancelled last minute. This year, it is completely the opposite. The orders were in line, even slightly up, when comparing it to a normal Easter and now we see that demand is even outreaching supply."

Drive Thru Easter Flower Box Sale
To enable the plants to still bring people some joy during this COVID-19 shut down last year, instead of being dumped, Van Hoekelen Greenhouses arranged a Drive Thru Easter Flower Box Sale during the weekend of Easter and it has been overwhelmingly appreciated by the local community. This year, as the run-up ran smoothly, they were not planning to organize another Drive Thru, but as they were receiving so much calls, they decided to team up with again with the local fire department and again, a percentage of each flower box sold will be donated to them. This year, the Drive Thru will take place from March 26 - April 3. 

Demand across the board
So, what's in demand? According to Alex, everything from flowering plants to house plants and cut flowers are in high demand. 

Preparing for Easter 2021
It takes about 6 to 7 months for the crop to grow, so proper preparation is needed. But how was it to prepare for this year, having Easter 2020 in the back of your mind? "Easter was terrible, but quickly after, demand started to increase and things started to turn out good.  We kept working, fulfilling the orders and we stayed on the we always did, despite the fact that the pandemic was still going on. Also when preparing for Easter, we took the risk and prepared as usual. Fortunately, it all turned out good."

Freight is the main challenge
Van Hoekelen ships its products by truck and the main issue that the supply chain is messed up. "Since the pandemic, freight costs worldwide have increased sharply, for all kind of shipments, no matter if it is air, sea or road. We ship our products per truck and in North America, the main reason for the increased prices is the shortage of drivers and the rising fuel costs. Especially the last two months, it has become very expensive."    

New customers due to lockdown
When looking at the future, Alex has high hopes. "Right after Easter last year, we saw the demand increasing and since then, it went very strong. We all thought that it would die out, but it did not, it remained strong across the board. I'm pleased to see that the industry gained a lot of new customers and I hope that we can keep them. And in order to keep them, I think the key thing is to give them a good experience. If we can provide them with a good experience several times, we can probably have them for life."

Mother's Day
And there is little time to rest as Mother's Day (Sunday May 9) will be Van Hoekelen's next important holiday. "If it will be as successful as last year, we will be more than happy!" 

For more information:
Van Hoekelen Greenhouses, Inc. (VHG)
Alexander van Hoekelen


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