Monrovia Falls Short Of $20 Million Target

Monrovia failed to reach a target of $20 million in incremental sales by the end of January. As a result, the company has accepted an order to deliver unbranded Monrovia plants to Home Depots in the western United States this spring.

“No, we did not meet our goal. If we had, we would not have sold plants to Home Depot,” says Bob Smiland, chief sales and marketing officer for Monrovia.”

Including the Home Depot order, the company achieved $12 million in additional sales, Smiland says. “We still have a lot of plants for sale.”

Following the economic downturn and a significant three-year slump in sales, Monrovia was required by its banks to meet certain financial targets for this spring. The company’s leadership had asked its independent retail customers to place an additional $20 million in orders by the end of January or face the prospect of having to move inventory in other ways, namely selling its product through box store channels.

“For those independents who increased their orders, we are extraordinarily grateful,” Smiland says. “Some of them placed significant orders.

“We grew these plants in 2006, 2007 and 2008. 2011 was scheduled to be the biggest year in our company’s history. We were very excited about the prospects. We had no idea what would happen starting in ’08.”

The Home Depot order is the only one Monrovia has from box stores to this point, and that order will be spread across the western half of the country, Smiland says. For the consumer, there will be no identification to let them know they are buying Monrovia material at Home Depot.

“These plants will be delivered in black pots with a plain, generic label. There will be no mention of Monrovia anywhere, and they will not be delivered in Monrovia-branded trucks,” he says.

Smiland also points out that the material will not be sold through pay by scan, and the pricing will be the same as that offered to Monrovia’s independent customers placing large orders.

“The Monrovia brand absolutely remains an independent exclusive. The benefit the box stores will be able to sell isn’t the brand. They will be able to promote this material as a premium quality plant,” he says. “We are very pleased to have this order from Home Depot.”

As for whether Monrovia will continue to offer material to box stores past this spring, Smiland said the future is still uncertain.

“We don’t know at this point. We already have plants grown for 2012 and 2013, and we have to meet our financial targets. We can’t keep throwing away plants. It’s all speculation at this point, but some signs point to a shortage of plants next year. And we are optimistic about this spring, particularly compared to the last two years.”

The goal, he says, it to get through this spring, meet the company’s financial requirements and regroup to determine future directions.

“This was not our first choice of channels, and it certainly is not the way we have done things historically,” Smiland says. “We have financial targets to meet our bank covenants and this will help. We’re very grateful for the order.”

Leave a Reply

34 comments on “Monrovia Falls Short Of $20 Million Target

  1. not a big surprise – didnt we all think that this would be the case when they hired Mike Trebing who cut his teeth on box stores with Hines

  2. Monrovia has a right like everyone else to do what they needed to do to remain in business. They went above and beyond what any other company would do by letting us all know what was going on with them financially and how everyone can help. They are continuing to protect their IGC interests by offering non-branded product without the box store discounted rates. Find another company that is that concerned about their credibility and reputation. There isn’t one. They deserve to stay in business and they deserve to have the industry support to do so..anything less is childish petty jealousy, The more we all work together the stronger our industry will be.

  3. I need my job. I appreciate what Monrovia is doing because it keeps me employed. That’s part of the bigger picture that people don’t think about. It would be easy to NOT sell to “the box stores” because of history, relationships, etc., but it could also mean 100’s, if not 1000’s of people becoming unemployed. They are still trying to protect the IGC’s, but also doing what they can to stay in business. Wouldn’t you do the same for your own company or would you liquidate it if faced with this difficult decision? Maybe if people thought about it more they would have a bit more understanding.

  4. I wish them the best they did what they had to do but don’t think for one min that the retail public will not find out oneway or the other where depot’s plants came from which sucks for the independent garden centers. I work for both a wholesale grower & an independent garen center

  5. It’s amazing that a company with virtually no real competition for the last few years still ended up in this mess. They asked the IGC’s for a bailout, pure and simple. Fell short and now on to the boxes. Arrogance got them here and it will probably end up doing them in.

  6. “For the consumer, there will be no identification to let them know they are buying Monrovia material at Home Depot.

    “These plants will be delivered in black pots with a plain, generic label. There will be no mention of Monrovia anywhere”

    How can their tags not list Monrovia? Truth in advertising laws require who grew them and where they were grown to be printed on the tag, as well as container size, etc.

  7. Wow! like we are so stupid not to see the wrighting on the wall? Nice try in sugar coating this. Again the big box stores win. We have bought from Monrovia for years. Don’t tell me this will not hurt the small IGC’s. Iv’e been in business for thirty years. We have seen things like this many times. When a company sells to the box stores labled or not it hurts the small guy. We are only buying products from companies that DO NOT SELL TO BOX STORES. We have even gone as far as to stop buying from distributors like commerce corp. They sell to box stores under another name.

  8. Having worked as a vendor to Depot for over 15 years I might suggest that after a couple of years of doing business with them, Monrovia had better watch out. Depot will grow and grow with them to the extent that they [Depot] will begin to monopolize their crops…then begin to tell them how much they [Depot] will pay. NEVER let Depot be responsible for more that 40% of your business. Under no circumstances let your independents suffer for this.

  9. I totally understand what it takes to put a key in the door and I hope Monrovia realizes its the independents who got them where they are today. Although Monrovia has always had a snobbish attitude, they do produce quality material. I think it was in poor taste that Monrovia ask IGC to increase there orders. Although i’m a retailer, how would it look if I put an ad in the newspaper asking the public to buy more from me? Sort of tacky, don’t you think. One thing I don’t think Monrovia realizes is that the box stores have put many vendors in financial stress or out of business. If your an independent, I need not mention names because you know who they are.
    Very Disappointed Customer.

  10. It’s always nice to have your cake and eat it too.
    People are correct when they say Monrovia can sell to who they want to, HOWEVER, when your “claim to fame” is that you ONLY sell to IGC’s and then turn around and sell to the box stores your credibility and your business go down the you know what…. I have a feeling a lot of the IGC’s that prebooked their orders may turn around and cancel them. If Monrovia couldn’t cut the mustard before Home Depot they definately won’t afterwards. Just wait to read chapter 2 – I mean 7…. 🙂

  11. First I must say if you are going to comment you should at least be up front enough to pur your name on your comment. That said Montrovia did what it had to do to survive. Being strictly wholesale ourselves and relying on the IGC’s like Montrovia we know how they feel. Yes, the boxes have put stress and other’s out of business but maybe some of them needed to be out of business. Working with IGC’s day in and day out and listening to them complain about the boxes but then do NOTHING to win back the customers they lost to the boxes. It isn’t always about price; I think most of the times it’s about convenience. Most homeowners do not anything about plants they see something pretty and buy it. If the IGC’s are not open when people are shopping, evenings when people get out of work, or do not keep their displays nice they are no better or no worse that the stuff that the boxes sell. People will go to the boxes because they are open when they shop and usually they can find something to buy. Why go to “joe” down the street when he closes at 5 when most people are getting out of work when he can go to the box store buy his nails/hammer what ever and get his plants at the same time after dinner (7 or 8. The IGC’s are going to go by the way of the Dinosaur if they don’t wake up and do something to draw customers in, YES Buy from me; what do you think you do when you put an add in the paper or on the radio, you are asking for the public to buy from you instead of somebody else, Montrovia just did it personally to their customers that they already had. This industry needs to wake up! it isn’t the 90’s any more you have to create a want to get people to buy your material, there is just way too many other things for people to do in this day and age with their expendable income.

  12. Can we all stop bashing Home Depot for a while … there are a lot of wonderful, hard working people working there and they need their jobs just as much as the next person does. Give it some thought.

  13. What deeply disturbs me, more than any of Monrovia’s current actions, is that they had debt to begin with. Why on earth would a 100+ year old company have any debt? I’m not naive: I understand the concept of a business line of credit and how important it is for a business to have access to cash so that it can meet it’s current financial obligations. However, the last few years have seen a lot of very intelligent people make incredibly foolish choices. Welcome to 2011… If you don’t understand how to manage debt, I don’t think you ought to be in business.
    Perhaps I’m overly cautious, but I don’t ever want my business to take on so much debt that a bank could jeopardize my existence. That’s just dumb.
    Whether you are an IGC, a wholesale grower, a retail grower, or a big box buyer, if you are reading this, I hope you learn from Monrovia’s mistake. Namely, they forgot the old proverb that “The borrower is servant to the lender”. Debt kills. I sincerely hope that Monrovia survives, but more importantly, I hope that our wonderful, diverse, beautiful industry learns from the numerous mistakes of the 2007 – 2010 era, and that we enter a new paradigm of responsible financial management that ensures our future existence.
    It would be tragic if a few poor decisions about debt, cash flow, and risk management destroyed our livelihoods. Let’s be intelligent and manage our businesses wisely, taking opportunities as they arise while protecting ourselves from foolish people.

  14. Not unlike what Proven Winners did to the IGC a few years ago. The IGC builds the brand but can’t support the growth of the brand

  15. absolutely correct Paul, dept might be incurred when a company is in it’s infancy years, but give me a break, after 100 years? Mismanagement comes to mind. And then come calling for a bailout? sounds like the auto industry all over again. As far as the IGC vs Box , we too have stayed away from the box stores and have been loyal to the independents, but it needs to be a two-way street. Many independents over the years have formed buying groups and thrown loyalties out the window as well. They purchase in mass the bread and butter items and leave you the left overs. This has been very frustrating to some growers and eventually they need to look at alternative markets as well. All being said though, walk a day in their shoes and the soul of their action becomes evident.

  16. Yesterday I was looking at Monrovia’s webe site and saw where a customer could find a retailer for Monrovia’s site. Guess what? My competitors were on there but we weren’t. I called Monrovia and was told that we didn’t sell enough of their product to be recognized. We purchased $8000 worth of product from them in the spring or 2010.
    I suggested to this gentleman that this is not good for Monrovia or me. Are they going to recognize the Home Depot in my same town. Not a good way to do business. I’m thinking about buying less from them this year.

  17. not a big surprise – didnt we all think that this would be the case when they hired Mike Trebing who cut his teeth on box stores with Hines

  18. Monrovia has a right like everyone else to do what they needed to do to remain in business. They went above and beyond what any other company would do by letting us all know what was going on with them financially and how everyone can help. They are continuing to protect their IGC interests by offering non-branded product without the box store discounted rates. Find another company that is that concerned about their credibility and reputation. There isn’t one. They deserve to stay in business and they deserve to have the industry support to do so..anything less is childish petty jealousy, The more we all work together the stronger our industry will be.

  19. I need my job. I appreciate what Monrovia is doing because it keeps me employed. That’s part of the bigger picture that people don’t think about. It would be easy to NOT sell to “the box stores” because of history, relationships, etc., but it could also mean 100’s, if not 1000’s of people becoming unemployed. They are still trying to protect the IGC’s, but also doing what they can to stay in business. Wouldn’t you do the same for your own company or would you liquidate it if faced with this difficult decision? Maybe if people thought about it more they would have a bit more understanding.

  20. I wish them the best they did what they had to do but don’t think for one min that the retail public will not find out oneway or the other where depot’s plants came from which sucks for the independent garden centers. I work for both a wholesale grower & an independent garen center

  21. It’s amazing that a company with virtually no real competition for the last few years still ended up in this mess. They asked the IGC’s for a bailout, pure and simple. Fell short and now on to the boxes. Arrogance got them here and it will probably end up doing them in.

  22. “For the consumer, there will be no identification to let them know they are buying Monrovia material at Home Depot.

    “These plants will be delivered in black pots with a plain, generic label. There will be no mention of Monrovia anywhere”

    How can their tags not list Monrovia? Truth in advertising laws require who grew them and where they were grown to be printed on the tag, as well as container size, etc.

  23. Wow! like we are so stupid not to see the wrighting on the wall? Nice try in sugar coating this. Again the big box stores win. We have bought from Monrovia for years. Don’t tell me this will not hurt the small IGC’s. Iv’e been in business for thirty years. We have seen things like this many times. When a company sells to the box stores labled or not it hurts the small guy. We are only buying products from companies that DO NOT SELL TO BOX STORES. We have even gone as far as to stop buying from distributors like commerce corp. They sell to box stores under another name.

  24. Having worked as a vendor to Depot for over 15 years I might suggest that after a couple of years of doing business with them, Monrovia had better watch out. Depot will grow and grow with them to the extent that they [Depot] will begin to monopolize their crops…then begin to tell them how much they [Depot] will pay. NEVER let Depot be responsible for more that 40% of your business. Under no circumstances let your independents suffer for this.

  25. I totally understand what it takes to put a key in the door and I hope Monrovia realizes its the independents who got them where they are today. Although Monrovia has always had a snobbish attitude, they do produce quality material. I think it was in poor taste that Monrovia ask IGC to increase there orders. Although i’m a retailer, how would it look if I put an ad in the newspaper asking the public to buy more from me? Sort of tacky, don’t you think. One thing I don’t think Monrovia realizes is that the box stores have put many vendors in financial stress or out of business. If your an independent, I need not mention names because you know who they are.
    Very Disappointed Customer.

  26. It’s always nice to have your cake and eat it too.
    People are correct when they say Monrovia can sell to who they want to, HOWEVER, when your “claim to fame” is that you ONLY sell to IGC’s and then turn around and sell to the box stores your credibility and your business go down the you know what…. I have a feeling a lot of the IGC’s that prebooked their orders may turn around and cancel them. If Monrovia couldn’t cut the mustard before Home Depot they definately won’t afterwards. Just wait to read chapter 2 – I mean 7…. 🙂

  27. First I must say if you are going to comment you should at least be up front enough to pur your name on your comment. That said Montrovia did what it had to do to survive. Being strictly wholesale ourselves and relying on the IGC’s like Montrovia we know how they feel. Yes, the boxes have put stress and other’s out of business but maybe some of them needed to be out of business. Working with IGC’s day in and day out and listening to them complain about the boxes but then do NOTHING to win back the customers they lost to the boxes. It isn’t always about price; I think most of the times it’s about convenience. Most homeowners do not anything about plants they see something pretty and buy it. If the IGC’s are not open when people are shopping, evenings when people get out of work, or do not keep their displays nice they are no better or no worse that the stuff that the boxes sell. People will go to the boxes because they are open when they shop and usually they can find something to buy. Why go to “joe” down the street when he closes at 5 when most people are getting out of work when he can go to the box store buy his nails/hammer what ever and get his plants at the same time after dinner (7 or 8. The IGC’s are going to go by the way of the Dinosaur if they don’t wake up and do something to draw customers in, YES Buy from me; what do you think you do when you put an add in the paper or on the radio, you are asking for the public to buy from you instead of somebody else, Montrovia just did it personally to their customers that they already had. This industry needs to wake up! it isn’t the 90’s any more you have to create a want to get people to buy your material, there is just way too many other things for people to do in this day and age with their expendable income.

  28. Can we all stop bashing Home Depot for a while … there are a lot of wonderful, hard working people working there and they need their jobs just as much as the next person does. Give it some thought.

  29. What deeply disturbs me, more than any of Monrovia’s current actions, is that they had debt to begin with. Why on earth would a 100+ year old company have any debt? I’m not naive: I understand the concept of a business line of credit and how important it is for a business to have access to cash so that it can meet it’s current financial obligations. However, the last few years have seen a lot of very intelligent people make incredibly foolish choices. Welcome to 2011… If you don’t understand how to manage debt, I don’t think you ought to be in business.
    Perhaps I’m overly cautious, but I don’t ever want my business to take on so much debt that a bank could jeopardize my existence. That’s just dumb.
    Whether you are an IGC, a wholesale grower, a retail grower, or a big box buyer, if you are reading this, I hope you learn from Monrovia’s mistake. Namely, they forgot the old proverb that “The borrower is servant to the lender”. Debt kills. I sincerely hope that Monrovia survives, but more importantly, I hope that our wonderful, diverse, beautiful industry learns from the numerous mistakes of the 2007 – 2010 era, and that we enter a new paradigm of responsible financial management that ensures our future existence.
    It would be tragic if a few poor decisions about debt, cash flow, and risk management destroyed our livelihoods. Let’s be intelligent and manage our businesses wisely, taking opportunities as they arise while protecting ourselves from foolish people.

  30. Not unlike what Proven Winners did to the IGC a few years ago. The IGC builds the brand but can’t support the growth of the brand

  31. absolutely correct Paul, dept might be incurred when a company is in it’s infancy years, but give me a break, after 100 years? Mismanagement comes to mind. And then come calling for a bailout? sounds like the auto industry all over again. As far as the IGC vs Box , we too have stayed away from the box stores and have been loyal to the independents, but it needs to be a two-way street. Many independents over the years have formed buying groups and thrown loyalties out the window as well. They purchase in mass the bread and butter items and leave you the left overs. This has been very frustrating to some growers and eventually they need to look at alternative markets as well. All being said though, walk a day in their shoes and the soul of their action becomes evident.

  32. Yesterday I was looking at Monrovia’s webe site and saw where a customer could find a retailer for Monrovia’s site. Guess what? My competitors were on there but we weren’t. I called Monrovia and was told that we didn’t sell enough of their product to be recognized. We purchased $8000 worth of product from them in the spring or 2010.
    I suggested to this gentleman that this is not good for Monrovia or me. Are they going to recognize the Home Depot in my same town. Not a good way to do business. I’m thinking about buying less from them this year.

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