Rambo Nursery Eliminates Confusion With One-Stop Shop Concept

Sam Rambo

Sam Rambo says his company started offering single-source supplying before it was called single-source.

“We were buying in shrubs, perennials and annuals that stores would need on the weekend knowing that they were going to run out and call us for more plants,” says Rambo, president and CEO of Rambo Nursery. “We officially became known as a single-source supplier in 2008, but we had been doing it prior to that. I’m talking about all categories of ornamental plants, including annuals, perennials, foliage, poinsettias, trees, shrubs, roses and bulbs.”

Rambo Nursery operates three production facilities in Georgia and services more than 50 Home Depot stores in Georgia and Alabama.

Creating Order From Chaos

Rambo says the main reason his company agreed to become a single-source supplier was the lack of consistency he saw in stores. For example, a wide variety of pot sizes and colors were being offered in the Home Depot stores he serviced.

“There was nearly every color imaginable when it came to containers — terra cotta, white, green, black and more,” he says. “The different colors were a reflection of different growers’ philosophies in regards to distinguishing their product from their competitors. The result was absolute chaos. We could see that consumers in the stores were totally confused by the whole situation. We realized the more control we could gain over the situation, the better it would be for us as well as for the customers shopping in the stores.”

Rambo initiated a concept in the stores he called Garden Center Destination. The primary reason for developing the program was to turn all the stores his company served into shopping destinations for consumers looking for plant products.
“We built the business based on the needs of the customers,” Rambo says. “Prior to becoming a single-source supplier, we were making deliveries on Saturdays and Sundays, even though we weren’t a main vendor. We were restocking the display tables on weekends when other growers couldn’t fill the orders.”

Rambo says this strategy has worked for his company because he is a regional grower.

“We handle 54 stores in Georgia and Alabama, and we are very close to the markets that we serve,” he says. “We are definitely interested in expanding beyond the stores that we currently serve. There is a lot of market share we don’t have that’s in close proximity to us. We have the potential to grow this model from our current location, and we would consider setting up distribution centers in other locations. The key is being on top of your market.”

Working With Other Growers

Although Rambo would prefer to grow as much of the plant material he ships as possible, he works with a network of about 20 growers to produce what he cannot. Some of these growers produce exclusively for his company.

“With the annuals and perennials, we would prefer to produce everything that we ship, but we have had to contract-grow a decent percentage of the plants,” Rambo says. “I consider some of the growers we are working to be the best in the country. They are committed to high quality. We try not to give these growers more than three to four items to grow.”

Rambo says he has tried to limit the number of growers that he works with to retain more control and to reduce confusion. He says nearly all of the plants for 2013 have been scheduled and ordered.

“We have contracted with some growers who grow specifically for us. We also send commitments to growers who are not growing exclusively for us,” he says. “We source material all over the country and also ship material all over the country. If we have a need for a product that we are running low on or is selling well, it is not unlike us to search the nation to find it. If there is a grower in Iowa or Michigan who needs plants and we have them, then we’ll ship them.”

Delivering Product On Time

Rambo says transportation is a key component to being a single-source supplier. His company handles all of its transportation, including shipping plants produced by contract growers.

“Ninety percent of what we ship is cross-docked,” he says. “On a typical spring morning we could have 20 trucks lined up unloading freight. The materials are cross-docked here and put back on the trucks and delivered to the stores. Only 10 percent of what we pick up from contract growers is direct-shipped to a store location.”
During the peak spring season, the company will run an average of 30 trucks per day. Rambo owns all of the trailers he uses and contracts with three trucking companies to make deliveries.

“The drivers we work with are self-employed, so they can make the deliveries whenever the stores need the material,” he says. “We have some drivers who can run three loads in one day. We can deliver 24 hours a day, which is especially important in city situations where the drivers can get around a lot quicker at night.”

Hands-on Approach Maximizes Sales

Rambo employs 85 full-time merchandisers who ensure product is delivered and displayed properly. Most of the merchandisers are master gardeners who love plants.
“We feel there is great need for the human touch and to have someone in the stores watching what the customers are doing and to interact with them,” Rambo says. “This helps to back up what we are seeing in regards to actual sales. They can see what isn’t selling and why it might not be selling, as well as make changes to displays or remove a product and replace it with something else.”

Electronic data interchange technology enables Rambo to see specifically what is selling in each store. He says having merchandisers in the stores every day provides information about what is happening that sales figures alone can’t report.

“It is very important to us not to miss any sales,” he says. “It’s also important to us that we are not wasting product. We are able to make sure the material is there when the stores need it.”

Seeking Continual Improvement

“Proximity is the key that allows us to [stay on top of the market],” Rambo says. “We are in the stores constantly. It is very important for us to control the process.”
Rambo says he is constantly looking outside our industry for ways to improve the process.

“I tell our people not to try to reinvent the wheel, because they are wasting their time,” he says. “I tell them to look outside of our industry for someone who is doing it right and to learn from them. It’s all about follow-through and initiative.”

Leave a Reply

One comment on “Rambo Nursery Eliminates Confusion With One-Stop Shop Concept

  1. hello I live in Dallas Georgia I was wondering if I could come into your facility and buy flowers and plants please let us know thank you so much.

More From Greenhouse Grower's GROW...
ASCFG-Gretel-and-Steve-Adams-Sunny-Meadow-Flower-Farm-feature

November 22, 2017

Growers Showing Renewed Interest in Specialty Cut Flowers

At the brink of its 30th anniversary, the Association of Specialty Cut Flower Growers is connecting a diverse and growing group of members dedicated to producing and marketing cut flowers.

Read More
Griffin Pennsylvania Expo

November 22, 2017

Griffin Sets Dates for 2018 Grower & Retailer Expos

The company will host two Expos next year — one each in Massachusetts and Pennsylvania — and each will be a two-day event.

Read More
Berger-Equipment

November 17, 2017

How You Can Help Berger in Donating to Hurricane Harvey Victims (While Learning More About Plant Production)

Between Nov. 23-27, Berger will donate $1 for every download of its free technical plant production guides to hurricane relief efforts.

Read More
Latest Stories
Seed-Your-Future-feature

November 9, 2017

Dümmen Orange Throws Support Behind Seed Your Future In…

Dümmen Orange has announced it will pledge $450,000 over the next three years to Seed Your Future, the non-profit organization whose mission is to promote horticulture in the U.S. and inspire people to pursue careers working with plants.

Read More
Marshall Dirks, Proven Winners

October 28, 2017

5 Rules for Creating a Lifetime of Outdoor Garden Memor…

Many customers are time starved. Their most important asset is time, not money, so be realistic about the investment of both when they are buying plants.

Read More
Living Umbrellas

October 25, 2017

Why Living Umbrellas May Have a Bright Future

Sometimes innovation strikes by chance. Such was the case with David Tilley, developer of the “Living Umbrella.”

Read More
Luxflora Paris Trip

October 20, 2017

Luxflora Paris Trip Offers Insights on Trends Shaping H…

Each year, Luxflora hosts an international trip that allows participants to gain insights on trends and gather inspiration that ultimately will shape and support our industry in many ways. This year’s event took the group to Maison & Objet and Design Week in the City of Lights – Paris, France.

Read More
Steve Garvey, Dallas Johnson Greenhouses

September 23, 2017

Producing Quality Plants in the Greenhouse Starts From …

It's common for growers to make mistakes. What you learn from those mistakes is what sets you apart as a grower and where quality starts.

Read More
Quality in the Greenhouse

September 21, 2017

Two Head Growers and a Retail Live Goods Buyer Talk Bes…

Ultimately, the quality of the plants you grow will be responsible for the success of the consumer, and consumer success will ideally translate to repeat sales. That’s why quality must be a top priority for all growers, according to Brad Julian, a Live Goods Buyer for Lowe’s Home Improvement, and Head Growers Dennis Crum of Four Star Greenhouse and Joe Moore of Lucas Greenhouses.

Read More
Jan Gulley, Gulley Greenhouses

August 25, 2017

Why It’s Important to Educate and Engage the New Hortic…

Young adults entering the workforce have more professional choices than ever before, and many want to work in environments in which their work has a clear purpose for both the organization and society at large.

Read More
Seed Your Future feature

July 26, 2017

Seed Your Future Aims to Inspire Careers in Plants

Who will be the next generation of horticulturists? The answer lies in helping to change the perception of horticulture and using contemporary new language to tell our stories.

Read More
Albert Grimm, Jefferys Greenhouses

July 8, 2017

How You Can Use Lifestyle Marketing to Sell Plants

Should we be trying to educate consumers into loving what we like to produce, or should we allow consumers to educate us into producing what they love?

Read More
Metrolina Make a Wish Greenhouse

July 7, 2017

Metrolina Builds, Decorates Greenhouse for Young Cancer…

When Michael VanWingerden and his wife Courtney heard through their work with the Make-A-Wish foundation that 11-year-old Jason wanted a greenhouse to grow vegetables in, they knew Metrolina Greenhouses could help.

Read More
Metrolina Greenhouses Dig and Swig Event

June 25, 2017

Consumers Revel in Gardening at Metrolina Greenhouses’ …

Metrolina wanted to promote plants, gardening, and creating a sense of community, so it decided to host Dig & Swig events at a local brewery.

Read More

May 23, 2017

6 Simple Ways to Acquire New Customers

Even the most successful brands need new customers if they want to grow their business, or stay profitable.

Read More
Tyler Beasley

May 21, 2017

Final California Spring Trials Thoughts From Allan Armi…

“I went home from California Spring Trials realizing that the students enrolled in our Greenhouse Management program at Spokane Community College need to experience the trials. Attending opened many doors of opportunity for me.”

Read More
Cannabis Adobe Stock feature

May 1, 2017

Why I Turned Down a High-Paying Offer to Grow Cannabis …

Young growers have passion for all aspects of organic and sustainable growing. The key to not losing them to the cannabis industry, according to Kelly Vance, a Technical Consultant for Beneficial Insectary, may be nurturing their interests in these fields by aligning greenhouse production with sustainable growing practices.

Read More
National Collegiate Landscape Competition Feature

April 27, 2017

Hoffman Nursery Cheers On the Next Generation of Hortic…

Hoffman Nursery was a sponsor of the recent 41st National Collegiate Landscape Competition, an event that offers several opportunities for companies in the green industry to meet and recruit the next-generation of horticulturists.

Read More
Kaylee South

April 22, 2017

American Floral Endowment Announces Winners of 2017 Pau…

Four students pursuing careers in horticulture now have scholarships to help them along the way, thanks to the American Floral Endowment.

Read More
Basil Planting feature

March 29, 2017

How You Can Embrace Greenhouse Food Production With Con…

Maintaining balance, learning continuously, and seeking support will help make your transition into producing greenhouse food crops a smooth one.

Read More
If your Wi-Fi is truly secure, your staff can help customers on the sales floor starting today

March 25, 2017

What Marketing Approach Can Attracts the Most Customers…

Inc.com surveyed more than a thousand customers to find out which marketing strategies worked best to entice them to try out a new business

Read More