The End Of The Ecke Era [opinion]

Once upon a time, in 1900, a man named Albert Ecke arrived in Hollywood, Calif., from Germany, intending to continue on to Fiji and open a health spa. Instead, he opened a fruit and dairy farm and dabbled with his love of flowers.

Albert and his son, Paul, became interested in the wild poinsettia that grew abundantly in the area and decided it would make an ideal holiday plant since it produced large red blooms at Christmastime. Through tireless promotion and careful, diligent breeding, Albert, Paul and Paul’s son, Paul Jr., created marketable poinsettias and made them as ubiquitous during the holidays as the Christmas tree.

Paul Ecke III, Albert’s great-grandson, led the business into the twenty-first century, expanding operations into Europe and Guatemala, producing millions of cuttings and expanding product offerings to include many other varieties. In short, it is an all-American success story. It is the story of how many iconic businesses in our industry developed — W. Atlee Burpee Co., Goldsmith Seeds, Yoder Brothers — all of which are now absorbed into larger corporations.

So, I was saddened, although not shocked, by the news that Ecke Ranch had been acquired by the Agribio Group. It is good news that the business will continue and even grow. It is also good news that, with the sale of the business, the Ecke family is realizing the results of a great deal of hard work.

Why then, do I feel sad? For me, it’s always hard to watch a family business end — like a little piece of history has been chipped away — whether it’s the local hardware store or an international business like Ecke Ranch. The third-generation family nursery where I first worked was sold out of the family and ultimately went out of business two years ago, taking a piece of my own history with it.

A common perception of consolidation, by the general public at least, is of less personal service, less flexibility and less diversity of product offerings. Sometimes these perceptions are based on reality. However, if it’s handled right, there can be significant benefits to consolidation. For instance, Ecke president Andy Higgins says that now, rather than just a five-person breeding team, Ecke will now have access to 80 breeding technicians — an incredible jump in brainpower and technology.

Mark Schermer, general manager of Fides Oro (also part of the Agribio Group), says, “The benefits for Fides Oro and Ecke are that the combination of the parties create a larger platform for the Agribio genetics to be successful in the North American market. More important, however, is that the customers will be able to get a wider palette of products between the two companies.”

Economies of efficiency and scale can also make some products more affordable and available.

The Ecke acquisition and others like it are an inevitable part of a maturing industry. But I’m still mourning that little piece of history.

Leave a Reply

More From Business Management...
Albert Grimm, Jefferys Greenhouses

August 25, 2016

7 Ways Albert Grimm Strives To Be An Effective Leader

Grimm, Greenhouse Grower's 2016 Head Grower Of The Year, tries to live by the "Seven Habits Of Highly Effective People” from author Stephen R. Covey.

Read More
Tidal Creek Growers

August 25, 2016

Maryland-Based SunMed Growers Nabs Cannabis License

The company was one of 15 licensees selected by the commission out of a pool of 145 grower applicants to receive one of the license pre-approvals.

Read More
Albert Grimm GOY feature

August 25, 2016

Up Close And Personal With Head Grower Of The Year Albert Grimm

According to Grimm, Greenhouse Grower’s 2016 Head Grower Of The Year, the key to being a successful grower is educating and inspiring yourself, your staff, your customers, and the next generation of growers.

Read More
Latest Stories
Albert Grimm, Jefferys Greenhouses

August 25, 2016

7 Ways Albert Grimm Strives To Be An Effective Leader

Grimm, Greenhouse Grower's 2016 Head Grower Of The Year, tries to live by the "Seven Habits Of Highly Effective People” from author Stephen R. Covey.

Read More
Tidal Creek Growers

August 25, 2016

Maryland-Based SunMed Growers Nabs Cannabis License

The company was one of 15 licensees selected by the commission out of a pool of 145 grower applicants to receive one of the license pre-approvals.

Read More
Albert Grimm GOY feature

August 25, 2016

Up Close And Personal With Head Grower Of The Year Albe…

According to Grimm, Greenhouse Grower’s 2016 Head Grower Of The Year, the key to being a successful grower is educating and inspiring yourself, your staff, your customers, and the next generation of growers.

Read More
Penn State Plant Bud

August 23, 2016

AmericanHort Is Helping Plant Importers Adjust To New R…

A report from Craig Regelbrugge at AmericanHort says the government is implementing a streamlined system for imports, in which all required data will be submitted electronically through a single window.

Read More
LuxFlora - feature

August 22, 2016

Check Out Luxflora’s International Adventures In Europe

A new, women-led professional organization provides its members the opportunity to gain insight, develop ideas, and build connections on its annual international trip.

Read More
MasterTag booth at Cultivate'16

August 17, 2016

5 Nuggets Of Wisdom From Cultivate’16

Here are five sweet pieces from the movers and shakers at Cultivate'16 to help improve your greenhouse business.

Read More
Cannabis ForwardGro

August 16, 2016

ForwardGro Receives License From Maryland Medical Canna…

The company, comprised of expert nursery growers, medical experts, business leaders, and patient advocates, says it can now apply its greenhouse growing experience, medical knowledge, and business expertise to effectively grow quality and consistent medical cannabis.

Read More
GreenhouseConnect 2015 Grower Supplier Meeting

August 16, 2016

5 Reasons You Need To Attend GreenhouseConnect

Greenhouse Grower’s annual event, which will take place Oct. 11-14 in Park City, UT, offers large-scale growing operations the chance to meet one on one with suppliers who can directly address your business needs.

Read More
Farwest Show Floor

August 14, 2016

Mobile App Now Available For 2016 Farwest Show

The app, available as a free download, can help attendees plan for everything from educational sessions to the New Varieties Showcase and Grower Showcase.

Read More

August 13, 2016

Plants Sales Are Up For Fourth Straight Year, According…

Growers declared spring 2016 to be a success in Greenhouse Grower’s 2016 State Of The Industry: Spring Crops Recap Survey.

Read More
Echinacea ‘Butterfly Rainbow Marcella’

August 12, 2016

IR-4 Project Receives Federal Funding For Pollinator An…

Grants from the Specialty Crop Research Initiative will fund IR-4 projects on protecting pollinators through ornamental horticulture, and downy mildew management strategies.

Read More
Emily Teng

August 11, 2016

American Floral Endowment Announces Its 2016 Scholarshi…

This year, thanks to the generosity of several donors, AFE awarded more than $35,000 to 17 students pursuing careers in horticulture.

Read More
Laura Drotleff

August 10, 2016

Customers Need Hand-Holding And TLC [Opinion]

If we want customers to use our plants, we need to provide basic information about the plants we produce.

Read More
Plug Connection Assortment

August 9, 2016

AmericanHort’s Plug And Cutting Conference Will Feature…

This year’s conference, which takes place Sept. 19-21 in Carlsbad, CA, features discussions on water, pest and disease control, and production inputs, as well as a biocontrols workshop and tour of local cuttings facilities.

Read More
Jim Nordlie

August 9, 2016

AFE Establishes Memorial Tribute For Long-Time Rose Gro…

Kennicott Brothers Company, Nordlie Inc., and The Pete Garcia Company established the Jim Nordlie Memorial Tribute through American Floral Endowment in honor of James “Jim” Nordlie, who passed away on July 1 at the age of 93.

Read More
Josh Henry, North Carolina State University

August 8, 2016

Get To Know Joshua Henry, Winner Of The 2016 Richard T.…

Henry, a graduate student at North Carolina State University, is pursuing a Master’s degree in horticultural sciences, with a focus on crop nutrition in bedding plants and flowering potted plants.

Read More
Andy And Micky Buist, Micandy Gardens

August 1, 2016

Micandy Gardens Uses New Technology And Energy Efficien…

With it's through energy efficiency, new technology, or the use of biocontrols, the Micandy ownership family of Andy, Micki, and Marcelyn Buist are constantly looking to make changes that will keep the company strong well into the future.

Read More
Obscura Screens From Svensson feature

July 28, 2016

3 New Products For Cannabis Producers

From screens to fertilizers to lighting, here are three new products that might help enhance your cannabis production system.

Read More
[gravityform id="35" title="false" description="false"]