Another major California growing operation is exiting the business. El Modeno Gardens will close its doors after Oct. 31 and Color Spot Nurseries is purchasing the operation’s equipment, raw materials and inventory.
Ranked at No. 41 on our Top 100 Growers, El Modeno Gardens specializes in perennials, flowering shrubs, bedding plants and blooming potted plants. The business was founded by the Groot family in 1958 as a specialty fern grower in an area called El Modena, which is now part of the city of Orange. The company began growing color in 1-gallon and 5-gallons to fill an emerging market niche in the 1960s.
The company moved to its current headquarters in Irvine, Calif., in 1967 and expanded to multiple facilities in Northern and Southern California–Hollister, Valley Center, Watsonville, Lake Mathews and Imperial County. In 2003, El Modeno added a Tyler, Texas facility, which has been leased by Seville Farms the last 18 months.
El Modeno also set itself apart by introducing some of its own varieties, like the euryops ‘Elmo Elite’ and ‘GreenGold,’ and a landscape gerbera, ‘Jaunty.’ Cartoon experts, Elmo and Deno, answered consumer gardening questions online.
Color Spot Nurseries’ founder and President Jerry Halamuda says he and his partner, Michael Vukelich, have been working with the Groot family the last four months to help them with their exit strategy. “We said, ‘Hey, you have assets, we will buy them from you,’” Halamuda says. “This gives them the ability to exit the business as economically viable as possible.”
The past two months, Color spot has been purchasing plant inventory and moving it to its Fallbrook and Salinas facilities. While El Modeno is still using equipment and trucks the rest of the month, after Oct. 31, Color Spot will purchase the remaining plant inventory, raw materials and equipment. At a few of the locations, the inventory and equipment will remain on site and Color Spot will use those locations through next spring and then vacate them. The Groot family will continue to own the land and facilities.
Halamuda says El Modeno’s customer base is the same as Color Spot’s. “We have a mutual customer base and will continue servicing the product categories they have. Our own field-level reps have the same accounts,” he says.
Color Spot ranks at No. 1 on our Top 100 Growers and is the clearly dominant operation on the West Coast and the Southwest with a very strong position in Texas. Based in Fallbrook, Calif., California locations include Carson, Lodi, San Juan Capistrano and Salinas. Texas locations include Troup, Huntsville, San Antonio, Waco and Walnut Springs.
Two years ago Color Spot acquired Powell Plant Farms in Troup, which had 351 acres of land and 2.5 million square feet of greenhouse production. Color Spot has been leasing production facilities from several other growers in that area, bringing production to 4 million square feet of greenhouse production on 500 acres of land. “This has become a mega facility for us here,” Halamuda says. “Right now we’re growing 1.2 million poinsettias.”
While this year has been a difficult one, Color Spot continues to increase its business. “Our business is up from last year and we’ll have a sizable increase going into next year” he says. “This is the most difficult time I’ve seen in 40 years economically. Unemployment is getting worse and real estate is more difficult than ever in California. Plus we have the drought issues.”