Monrovia’s goal of reaching a bank-mandated $20 million in bookings is drawing a mixed reaction from growers, retailers and others in the industry. Some people sympathize with Monrovia and its dilemma while others are more skeptical of its request, concluding that the company will eventually serve the box stores in some form.
Monrovia Supporters Speak
“Monrovia is a great company. We have to support people like this to keep our industry strong.”–Andy Bittner, Greenwell Plant Farm
“I have always been pleased with the product and service Monrovia provides. Yes, they grow a few things as a convenience that could be bought cheaper elsewhere, but their quality has always exceeded my expectations. And they grow many unique varieties that help set the independents apart from the box. I looked over my spring booking with them, and the new pricing, and will certainly be increasing some items and adding others. Some awesome opportunities exist there.”–Erik Friedli, Flamingo Road Nursery
“I have done a lot of business with Monrovia over the years and have been pleased with the quality and always had exceptional service. The problem is logistics. In this day and age of just-in-time inventory practices, it is tough to count on a supplier from the West Coast or South to resupply a garden center in the northern plains. I wish Monrovia the best and hope to be able to buy from them again some day.”–Jim Schroer, Plant Place Inc.
“We, after 25 years in business, have had bank troubles, too. I hope only the best for Monrovia and, in fact, for all of us in the green industry. I for one will, at least, look at my spring 2011 Monrovia order to see what we can do.” - Anonymous
Box Stores Are Next
While some growers and retailers are supportive of Monrovia in its effort to remain with independent garden centers, others believe it’s inevitable Monrovia will eventually serve the box stores. Here’s what a few others have to say about Monrovia’s future:
“Am I the only one who sees a thinly veiled threat in the letter Monrovia sent to its customers? Monrovia is far from the only nursery facing these problems, and anyone who feels Monrovia will not be forced to do business with their similarly-sized box store brethren (regardless of how much you increase your order) is sadly mistaken. The better bet is to support your local, modestly-sized, independent grower who, given proper support, will be able to meet the needs of your independent garden center for years to come far better than a large corporate nursery that has little choice but to deal with large corporate retailers.” - Anonymous
“The fact of the matter is Monrovia is looking to have their cake and eat it too when it comes to dealing with boxes. When I hear that they expect IGCs to come to their rescue to the tune of $20 million in such a short time, I say they are setting up impossible standards to meet so they can say: ‘We tried, we couldn’t get the support, we didn’t want to do it, but we were forced to go to the boxes to survive,’ and expect then the IGCs not to get upset. In reality, this is all likely a result of some wildly poor inventory decisions, a failed national selling strategy, and a huge corporate entity that has gotten too huge to properly stay in touch with the needs of its customer base.” - Anonymous
“I find this news about Monrovia not a surprise. They have a national brand that the consumer barely knows, they are a national shipper when our industry is moving in a completely different direction to more local/regional buying and finally they have grown far too many of the same green evergreens that people just don’t want anymore. I wish them the best but it is time to either dramatically scale back their numbers or dance with the big boxes.”–Anonymous
For more information on Monrovia and how its bank is pressuring it to secure $20 million in additional sales by Jan. 31, read our story from earlier this month. Additional reader comments are at the bottom of that page. Reader comments can also be read online at Fresh Air Forum.