One of the main functions of the Zabo Plants facility I visited is quality control, and it checks quality with its own lily trials. Zabo Plants now supplies more than 400 lily varieties, and part of Frits Kneppers’ job is examining how the different varieties compare to each other.
“You can see there are better bulbs, better methods, better transplants,” Kneppers says. “We started these kinds of [trials] to see how long we could store varieties.”
Kneppers says nearly 60 percent of Zabo’s business is the Lily Looks program. Zabo is capable of producing 500 boxes of lily bulbs per hour because of its investment in automation. Because it’s capable of producing so many boxes, Zabo fills its cold storage warehouses fairly quickly. But Zabo empties those warehouses in about one week, and then it begins packaging a new harvest of bulbs. The process is pretty cyclical.
Zabo is capable of filling last-minute orders, but Kneppers may not always have the specific bulb variety available if customers request bulbs last minute.
“Now, we tell customers we don’t have it but we have this,” he says. “People are becoming more quality conscious, so we have more cooperation between us and our customers.”
To view photos from Zabo Plants, check out the slideshow below.