Perspective: Jose Smith Of Costa Farms
From houseplants to young plants, this No. 4 ranked Top 100 Grower continues to expand into new areas of the industry. Costa Farms’ President and CEO Jose Smith explains how the company has grown to meet its customers’ needs.
July 20, 2012
GG: Costa Farms recently acquired Layman Wholesale Nurseries. What was the motivation to get into perennial plants?
JS: As the lines between annuals and perennial growers blurred, we decided to add a full perennial line. Layman was a natural choice for us because of their quality, offerings and reputation in the industry. As we explored this option over the last couple of years, we were convinced they were a good fit. In addition to perennials, they offer woody ornamentals, a category we were also looking to expand on.
GG: In addition to the new perennials line, Costa Farms has recently gotten into young plant production with Total Growth Solutions and getting kids interested in gardening with Growums. What are your motivations for continuing to grow the business?
JS: Our mission statement focuses on teams, solutions and growth. Our commitment to growth is only if it presents a sound business opportunity. We feel the last couple of acquisitions fit nicely into this strategy. We are not trying to grow for the sake of growing. We are equally responsible for and committed to our team and our customers. Growth has to make sense for all.
GG: How has the changing market effected your decision to expand?
JS: Nowadays, there is more and more pressure put on buyers. Our goal is to make their jobs easier. For that reason we do not supply just plants; we provide them with marketing, IT solutions and more. The more we can to do to help our customers be profitable and excel, the better solution we are for our customer. Growth and expansion must serve to enhance our solutions for our customers but not at the expense of our service.
GG: How do you strive to meet your customers’ changing needs? What do you see the Gen Y customer wanting in the garden?
JS: Besides conducting consumer surveys, we spend a lot of time developing strategies to lure new consumers into the market. We see product lines blurred within the next five years. Consumers are not asking for annuals and perennials, Generation Y is looking for low-maintenance options that offer the same curb appeal. Those of us in the industry too often focus on individual categories. We are happy that we can now offer consumers a variety of choices that fit their needs; whether this is in annuals, perennials or blooming shrubs.
GG: How do you plan to market to potential perennial buyers?
JS: We need to take a step back and ask consumers what they are looking for. What solutions can we provide? Although we do not have any details on the programs we will present, we know that we will be focusing on the ease of perennials. We want consumers to really understand the products. GG