Commerce Corp. Update: Former Employees React; Rivals See New Opportunities

As Today’s Garden Center reported on Dec. 31, 2012, there are conflicting stories regarding Commerce Corporation’s potential closing. While some say the garden supply distributor has begun massive layoffs to keep the company afloat, others insist Commerce is closing its doors. Green industry companies like BFG Supply and Ceramo Company are taking advantage of Commerce Corporation’s uncertain future.

Rivals Snap Up Employees, Customers

BFG Supply announced it has hired a former Commerce sales manager and nine sales reps. In a press release, Rob Glockner, president and CEO, explained the company may also continue to hire additional employees who have been laid off by Commerce.

“We really believe in hiring good people who will always put the customer first. These 10 individuals not only came highly recommended from Commerce’s senior management but are respected by their customers for the service they’ve provided over the years,” Glockner says.

“We took a significant step in expanding our footprint in the lawn and garden space when we acquired Wetsel 18 months ago, so being able to bring on even more high-character and knowledgeable people as a result of Commerce closing its doors will help us expand our position within the market even further,” he says. “We were successful in hiring these 10 new employees, but we’re still having active conversations with several other Commerce sales reps; this is an exciting time for BFG Supply.”

Meanwhile, A.M. Leonard has created a page on its webiste appealing directly to former Commerce customers. Touting its established relationships with industry suppliers, the distributor posts:

“In response to the recent news regarding the Commerce Corporation closing, we would like to offer our help to all our customers who might have placed orders with Commerce. AML offers many of the same products carried by Commerce. If we don’t have those products, many times, we can offer similar products.”

Border Concepts May Acquire Contract For Good Tidings And Michael Carr Designs

Border Concepts has submitted a letter of intent to acquire the contract for Good Tidings, which supplies holiday goods, and Michael Carr Designs, known for its pottery, says an anonymous source associated with Border Concepts. Commerce Corp. has had an exclusive with the two companies until now. Border Concepts is awaiting approval from the bank. “It’s not a done deal yet,” the source says, “but we expect to have everything in place soon.”

Commerce Customers Receive Buying Offers

Ceramo Company is offering to help former Commerce customers fill their orders by offering special buying deals. In a press release, the company announced it would extend its early buying program to “any retailers who are facing uncertainty about the status of their pottery orders resulting from the closing of Commerce Corporation.” The program also offers a variety of discounts, freight deals and extended dating for qualified orders.

“We understand the critical importance to the retailer of having pots on the shelves to sell as the season opens,” says Ceramo President Vernon Kasten. “And we’ve got a huge inventory on-hand and ready to ship to garden centers that may be concerned about receiving their pottery in time for early-spring business.”

Employees, Industry React To Alleged Commerce Closing

Following Today’s Garden Center’s story, many people commented on the state of Commerce Corp. Some of the comments came anonymously from people claiming to be former Commerce employees and vendors. Read on to see what they had to say.

“I was a direct shipper for Commerce and saw something like this coming when I got word of that West Coast shutdown. They wanted us to continue to ship product, have us collect payments from the retailers and still give them their cut. Not happening… As a side note, I have worked with several of the former Commerce reps, and they definitely did not deserve the treatment they got. If you are a Commerce rep and looking for a new gig, several of the major distributors will be happy to chat with you. I know Wetsel/BFG have picked up about 10 Commerce road warriors. We work with those guys too, and they are solid.”–John Doe Vendor

“I am one of many employees who was laid off on Friday. Baltimore team members were called into an office one by one while Grand Rapids team members were called in to a conference call and told, ‘If you are listening to this call you are laid off effective immediately.’ Our health insurance ran out on Dec. 31. That was nice for those who have their families on their insurance policies. The lack of communication from Richard and the executives was a low blow to the people who have worked hard for this company!” – Jane Doe

“Again, I am a former employee that was let go Friday without any type of respect. Thanks for speaking out to all. Commerce has done the former employees, vendors and customers wrong. It is a sad, sad, sad business.” – Jane Doe 2

“Sadly, I also am a former team member of Commerce. Richard laid all of us off except a very few whom he felt he could still ‘use’ to help reduce the inventory. We were all kept in the dark about everything going on and were told, ‘Commerce was going to get a great Christmas present by the Friday before Christmas,’ even though all the rumors sounded bad.” – John Doe

“There is no way retailers are going to have an confidence in placing any orders with Commerce. They are already contacting other distributors to get early orders placed. Distributors are going after Commerce retailers with force…” – A

“I received an eMail from my sales rep. on Dec. 22 with all my spring orders attached saying as of Dec. 28, Commerce Corp. was shutting their doors. The attachment was to help me try to place my orders elsewhere.” – Andi

Topics:

Leave a Reply

More From State of the Industry...
Hendriks-Half-Open-Roof_GGS

March 26, 2015

10 Greenhouse Products For First-Rate Growing Environments

From coverings to fork-lifts, greenhouse suppliers offer a variety of products to make growing easier. Check out the slideshow to learn more about these, plus several other products that can offer you value, versatility and durability.

Read More
Rose rosette on Knockout rose, April 2012. Photo credit: Alan Windham, University of Tennessee

March 25, 2015

$58 Million In APHIS Farm Bill Funding Will Support Horticulture Priorities

Nearly $58 million as been allocated by the USDA's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) to support the industry's Plant Pest and Disease Management and Disaster Prevention Program, under Farm Bill Section 10007. The program will support mitigation efforts for specialty crops, including providing research and other funding to address plant pest and disease priorities for the specialty crop industry, including floriculture and nursery crops.

Read More
AFE scholarship_Ryan Dickson

March 25, 2015

AFE Educational Grant And Scholarship Application Deadlines Approaching

Apply now for American Floral Endowment (AFE) scholarships or educational grants. Applications can be found online. For educational grants for 2015-2016, applications must be submitted no later than June 1. Scholarship applications are due May 1. AFE will award $40,000 in scholarships for 2015.

Read More
Latest Stories

March 25, 2015

NASS Reports U.S. Honey Production Was Up By 19 Percent…

Honey production in 2014 from producers with five or more colonies totaled 178 million pounds, up 19 percent from 2013, according to a March 20 report from the USDA's National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS).

Read More
cultivate'15 logo

March 4, 2015

Cultivate’15: AmericanHort Announces What’s…

In an industry that has seen major changes occurring at a fast pace, many industry professionals leave Cultivate with their heads spinning and no clear idea of how to regroup and strategize. Cultivate’15 is “Changing the Game.” As this year’s focus, Changing the Game will call your attention to the ways in which our industry has changed and your opportunities to compete successfully.

Read More
Greenhouse Grower State of the Industry

February 2, 2015

Download Greenhouse Grower’s 2015 State Of The In…

The Greenhouse Grower 2015 State Of The Industry Whitepaper includes all the results of the survey, including comparisons on 2014 sales to past years, details on how 2015 production volume and prices will compare to 2014, crops that growers will increase and decrease production on, where growers stand on using neonicotinoids on crops, how many growers will pursue growing medical marijuana and more.

Read More

January 27, 2015

Benchmarks: Let’s Change Our Story

It's a new year. Time for our industry to change how consumers perceive plants by creating a new reality where plants are valued for more than their physical beauty.

Read More

January 21, 2015

AFE Wins Platinum MarCom Award For “Murder, Sex a…

The American Floral Endowment (AFE) took home its fourth award for the animated awareness video "Murder, Sex and Greed." The organization also recently announced that there are two new members on its board of trustees.

Read More
Greenhouse Grower State of the Industry

January 19, 2015

2015 State Of The Industry: Current Green Industry Tren…

Demand for green industry products and services is forecasted to increase in coming years as the housing market rebounds.

Read More
DNA-logo

January 14, 2015

Terra Nigra Joins DNA Green Group

DNA Green Group will be expanding its range of cut flowers by incorporating Terra Nigra, a company specializing in breeding and propagation of gerberas and roses.

Read More

January 14, 2015

Florensis Receives Horticultural Entrepreneur Award

During the January 7, 2015 award ceremony in the Keukenhof, in Lisse, Netherlands, Florensis received the Horticultural Entrepreneur Award. Florensis was one of four nominated companies, which also included Arcadia BV, Artemis and Martens Asperges.

Read More
AmericanHort

January 9, 2015

AmericanHort Celebrates Its First Birthday

AmericanHort was formally launched one year ago on January 1, 2014, and the association is celebrating numerous successes of the first year.

Read More
Carol Miller

January 7, 2015

We’re All In This Together

Growers and retailers have a common goal — to serve customers better. In this new column, Greenhouse Grower will take a look at ways growers and retailers can work together to take advantage of profit opportunities and better meet customer needs.

Read More

January 7, 2015

Industry Speaks Out Against “Waters Of The U.S.” Rule

The Environmental Protection Agency’s proposed rule change to the Clean Water Act, known as “waters of the U.S.,” has the potential to disrupt normal business practices for growers across the country.

Read More

January 7, 2015

Students Tackle Real-Life Challenges At National FFA Fl…

Top prize winners put skills learned in the classroom to the test at the National Future Farmers of America (FFA) Floriculture Career Development Event.

Read More
Lesley Judd

January 7, 2015

2014 Meister Scholarship Awarded To Ph.D Student

The Richard T. Meister Scholarship was awarded to Lesley Judd, a graduate student with a passion for horticulture and a desire to pass her knowledge along through teaching.

Read More

January 6, 2015

39th Annual Today’s Horticulture Symposium Will Be Febr…

The Professional Gardener Alumni Association (PGAA) will hold the 39th Annual Today’s Horticulture Symposium program will be on February 6, 2015 from 8 a.m. or 4 p.m. in the Ballroom at Longwood Gardens, and will feature an array of engaging speakers.

Read More
Shawn McBurney

January 6, 2015

Society Of American Florists Hires New Lobbyist

Shawn McBurney joined the Society of American Florists' (SAF) staff starting January 5 as the new senior director of government relations.

Read More
Greenhouse Grower State of the Industry

January 5, 2015

Growers Are Optimistic For A Strong Year In 2015

Greenhouse Grower’s State Of The Industry survey reveals that growers are being cautious about the inputs they use, and they’re worried about input costs and regulation, but enthusiastic about the rebounding economy.

Read More
Greenhouse Grower State of the Industry

January 5, 2015

The 2015 State Of The Greenhouse Industry: Numbers At A…

Greenhouse Grower's 2015 State Of The Industry Survey shows some promising trends for the new year. Here's a look at the greenhouse market for 2015.

Read More
Greenhouse Grower State of the Industry

January 5, 2015

Suppliers Will Increase Prices, Grower Education For 20…

Vendors' expectations are high for 2015, according to their responses on Greenhouse Grower's 2015 State Of The Industry Survey.

Read More