Bachman’s, a greenhouse grower based in the Twin Cities area of Minnesota, produces begonias year-round. Those begonias, along with other flowers produced by Bachman’s, are sold at six of the grower’s own retail operations, as well as a local grocery chain called Lunds & Byerlys.
For Bachman’s, begonias are essential to maintaining a profitable, successful business. In the past, they’ve faced problems with growing times, liner quality and irregular liner shipments. However, growing begonias has become a simpler, more successful process since they began buying liners from Plantpeddler, a Cresco, Iowa-based young plant grower. “[Plantpeddler’s] liners are more consistent from shipment to shipment,” says Eric Nordlie, Bachman’s greenhouse production manager. “It’s allowed us to have continual supply of product. Before, there was a lot of variability in the quality of the [liners] we bought from our previous supplier.”
Nordlie says a crop that should take around 10 weeks to grow was instead taking around 14 weeks to finish with the previous supplier’s liners. For Bachman’s, this wasn’t cutting it.
Although most of the plants are grown to fill Bachman’s internal needs and only a small portion of their begonia sales are from wholesale orders, not having the necessary quantities has negatively affected Bachman’s business in the past. Nordlie says that growing in-house allows Bachman’s to better control the quality of plants being sold.
“The flow of the business was constantly being disrupted,” Nordlie says. “We try to produce as much as we can for our stores. If we get in a situation where we can’t supply, we go to outside suppliers. But typically, what happens then is that we get backed because the buyers bring in more than they ultimately needed to. So, they have to burn through that before they can get to our [plants].”
Bachman’s business relationship with Plantpeddler has only been in place for about a year, but Nordlie says Bachman’s has known Plantpeddler’s owner and founder Mike Gooder for years because Gooder would make the short drive from Cresco to Minnesota just to chat. That familiarity, as well as confidence in Plantpeddler’s liners and the proximity to the needed supply, motivated Bachman’s to make the switch last October.
“[Plantpeddler] runs trucks up here regularly. The liners how up in good shape as opposed to [plugs] coming via USPS or FedEx and half of them being out of the package,” Nordlie says. “Our other supplier, especially after we got into the off-times of year, we weren’t able to get every other week.”
Since using Plantpeddler’s begonia liners, Nordlie says Bachman’s has seen tangible improvements in begonia sales. Sales are up 19 percent over the previous year for 4-inch begonias, and 33 percent up for 6-inch begonias.
“The finished quality of what we’re sending to the stores is much better,” Nordlie says.