Riverview Flower Farm, Home Depot's largest supplier of 1-gal. premium annuals and perennials in Florida, has decided to expand their company in an effort to fulfill Home Depot's need for product. They have purchased Florida Azalea Specialists' 43 acres, located in the farming community of Ruskin, Fla, just 10 miles south of its current 65 acres in Riverview, Fla.
The 22-year-old company has been working with Home Depot for the past 10 years. "We offer Home Depot a higher quality, properly marketed product with good brand recognition," said Rick Brown, who co-owns Riverview with his brother Dave. "It was necessary for us to expand in order to solidify our relationship with Home Depot, who really counts on us for a good percentage of their color business in Florida."
About 13 months ago, Riverview started servicing the lower east coast of Florida's Home Depot's stores. "We doubled our business in taking on that expansion. We could see then that we were going to need more space with the success we had this winter and spring season," says Brown. "We started expanding two years ago to take on the business we got 13 months ago. And in the past four months, we decided to expand again. We needed to do a major expansion, and we couldn't do it where we were."
Riverview supplies 106 Home Depot stores in the peninsular Florida zone with 1-gal. annuals, perennials and premium vegetative items. Each Home Depot store gets 3-4 shipments per week year round. "The other supplier for Home Depot in the same market is Hines Color, located in Homestead, Fla. They supply 4 1/2 inch and commodities products such as garden mums, poinsettias and geraniums. We don't grow those commodities," said Brown.
If all goes as planned, Brown says the company will close on July 1, 2004 and begin renovating then. Brown foresees 20 of the 43 new acres being ready for production by this winter season. "We will develop the other acres over the coming years, but that should be enough capacity for the next year." He is planning to begin filling in October and have the 20 acres completely filled by January. "This facility already had eight acres of greenhouses and eight acres of shade houses ready to go. The existing frames will give us a start." However, the company will still have to put in a monorail system, heating system, lighting equipment, drip irrigation, load racks, side curtains, gutters and new covers for the greenhouses.
Brown says, "There's going to be 12-15 more Home Depot stores in our district by the end of the year. The stores are building their garden centers much bigger now. That's a key reason why we decided to expand - so that we could cover the new store openings."
Riverview markets the "Florida Friendly Plant" line. "We try to grow things that are going to survive in Florida's harsh climate and provide them at the season when they're best to be planted," said Brown. "We don't want a dissatisfied customer to go back to Home Depot. We proudly put our name on each plant and tell customers how to make it perform with lots of information on the tag, the pot and our Web site."