Costa Farms Acquires Houseplant Producer Hermann Engelmann Greenhouses, Inc.

Hermann Engelmanns Sandra Kitain, Chuck Romagnoli and Erin Leonard
Hermann Engelmann’s Sandra Kitain, chief operating and financial officer; Chuck Romagnoli, chief executive officer; and Erin Leonard, director of marketing and business development.

Costa Farms has acquired the business, assets and brands of Hermann Engelmann Greenhouses, Inc. of Apopka, Fla., one of the country’s premier small-foliage growers.

Under the visionary direction of the Engelmann family, Hermann Engelmann Greenhouses has played a leading role in the indoor houseplant industry for more than 40 years.

“It’s a privilege to have the opportunity to work with a team that has been committed to quality for so many years,” says Jose Costa, executive vice president and co-owner of Costa Farms. “The Engelmann organization has done an outstanding job cultivating and keeping their brand strong with 40-plus years of hard work and dedication. We feel a huge component of this transaction is the skill and expertise of the Engelmann production team.”

With a network of more than 1,100 retailers, including mass merchandisers, grocery stores and independent garden centers, the company operates under nearly 69 acres of greenhouses and has roughly 300 employees.

“We’re proud of what our company has achieved in our 43-year history,” says Romagnoli. “We’re pleased to be working with Costa Farms because they share our dedicated work ethic and demand for quality. We can’t imagine a better company to continue moving our brand forward.”

According to Jose Smith, Costa Farms’ CEO, the company will be operating Hermann Engelmann Greenhouses as is for the next few months. Costa Farms will not start any integration until this summer, Smith says.

Costa Farms will keep all of the Hermann Engelmann operations intact, keeping greenhouses operational and staff changes minor. However, leadership changes may be on the horizon. Current Hermann Engelmann Greenhouses CEO Chuck Romagnoli is going to be transitioning into a different role, Smith says, adding that it’s up to Romagnoli how he will stay involved with the company. A member of the Costa Farms team will take on some of the general manager responsibilities with Hermann Engelmann.

Costa Farms will continue to support the Exotic Angel brand and look to build on its heritage, legacy and portfolio of more than 400 plant varieties.

“Being the most recognized houseplant brand in the country, Exotic Angel is a perfect complement to join the Costa portfolio of brands, such as O2 for You and Plants of Steel,” Costa says.

“The Hermann Engelmann folks have been developing Exotic Angel over many years. We’re excited about growing that brand,” Smith says.

The two organizations will combine their strengths to offer more quality solutions for retail customers and end consumers.

“We’re already a large foliage grower,” Smith says. “For the most part, we competed with Hermann Engelmann on several product lines. So this isn’t necessarily us doing an expansion on any product lines. I think it’s immediately upgrading on the product lines that we were doing. Although we were doing a good job in that category, these guys do a better job. I thought they were best in class when it comes to small foliage. That was the impetus really in moving forward and doing this acquisition.”

When asked what he thought of the perception that Costa Farms is monopolizing the Florida foliage market, Smith says, “We know that every single day we have to earn our customers’ trust by doing a great job to keep them happy. We know that people don’t have to buy foliage plants. If we’re not delivering solutions to our customers, at the end of the day we’re not going to be around.”

With this transition, the company will address the possibility of expanding its marketing services.

“We’re kicking around ideas about how we’re going to position the brand,” Smith says. “We’re figuring out exactly what the strategy is going to be. We want to grow our brand, but we’re not going to cheapen it. That’s for sure. It’s a great opportunity to do something special for the foliage industry.”

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