Believe it or not, it was banking and currency issues that ended up putting bulb and perennial broker Langeveld International out of business.
In December, due to the strength of the euro and a large overhead in Holland, Langeveld was moving its production and warehouse facilities to the United States while filing for bankruptcy in Holland. In the United States, Langeveld was owned by a capital investment company called Oryx capital in Chicago.
Because the new entity had no credit history, vendors of the former Langeveld Bulb Co. needed bank guarantees for them to start shipping product again. According to sales representative Frank Riteco, Oryx and the banks were not processing guarantees quickly enough and Langeveld’s buyers in Holland advised growers not to ship product until they would receive the guarantees. “Our buyers didn’t want our growers to take the risk that they might never get paid for their product shipped to a new entity,” Riteco explains.
This delay in business resulted in all the mass merchandiser orders being canceled. About 60 percent of Langeveld’s business was in packaged goods to the box stores.
There potentially was still time to salvage the business in the grower division focused on perennials, but Langeveld International ceased operations on Jan. 18. At one point, Park Seed came forward with a proposal to buy the business, but there just wasn’t enough time to make it happen fast enough for spring sales.
Of the eight employees who were let go in the United States, six went to work for Netherland Bulb in Easton, Pa., and Riteco and Pieter Van der Lans have started their own company, Plants Work International. Garden World Inc. in St. Paul, Minn. took over the processing of Riteco’s spring perennial orders. Netherland Bulb is handling the bulb orders.
The Lily Looks bulbs are still being handled by Langeveld because the bulbs were in the Langeveld facilities and paid for before the bankruptcy. Riteco says he’s in the process of buying all Lily Looks bulbs from the bank to gain control of the product.
“After four greuling weeks of uncertainties and rollercoaster rides, we finally gave up efforts to stick together as a group to ship this spring’s orders,” Riteco says. “Time ran out to have a successful spring delivery season by a company that would buy Langeveld out of bankruptcy. We all decided to go our own way with the promise to do the right thing for our customers.” He adds that he applaudes Park Seed for the great job they did responding quickly with the proposal to buy the business.