Once McGregor Plant Sales’ relationship with importer and distributor Florexpo crumbled, Aris Horticulture stepped in last summer to make sure McGregor’s unrooted perennial customers were being taken care of.
“As we talked more with McGregor, I learned they were very good on the import business and had relationships with suppliers we didn’t tap into in Costa Rica and Guatemala,” says Bill Riffey, sales and marketing director at Aris. “[McGregor] provided plants like liriope, ivies and groundcovers. And, they have relationships with breeders on specific programs.”
Now, Aris and McGregor will be working together more exclusively. Aris announced last week it had acquired certain assets from McGregor, one of which includes resources like former CEO Cathy McClintock and Vice President of International Business Menachem Ganon.
“The important part of this acquisition is the people,” Riffey says. “We have several key individuals coming over, and they bring a lot of knowledge and experience. There are good people in the office who understand how to manage the import business.”
All existing customer and vendor orders with McGregor will transfer to Aris as part of the acquisition, and a West Coast presence will be maintained in the San Diego area. McGregor has been based in Carlsbad, Calif.
Additionally, Aris will manage and invoice all orders booked with McGregor for January 1, 2012 and beyond. Aris will not, however, handle McGregor invoices from 2011 or absorb any of the company’s existing debt.
Another asset Aris is acquiring is McGregor’s online-ordering website, which was re-skinned with the Aris look last Friday.
“McGregor allowed its customers to order cuttings online, and it was being well accepted in the industry,” Riffey says. “We’ve got some work to do, but in a very short period of time customers can continue to order online just as they had before. We will be adding all of our product lines in the near future.”
Riffey wants Aris’s customers to be able to order on their time – not just when sales representatives are available.
“Everybody wants to be able to order when it’s convenient,” he says. “A grower works all day in the greenhouse, comes in and wants to be able to order on his schedule. [Online ordering] is a service that is needed out there. We’re becoming an Amazon.com world where we want to shop, order and take care of things on our time rather than wait for a customer service group to come by.”
Plus, having an online-ordering system in place will allow Aris’s sales reps to focus on bigger tasks.
“The role of salespeople now should be to develop new programs for our customers, as well as be the solution for customers on new ideas,” Riffey says. “We want to make it seamless for customers to order.”
Yet another area of Aris that will benefit from the McGregor acquisition is research and development, Riffey says.
“We’re working with breeders and suppliers in Ethiopia; grasses in Turkey; and we can take and integrate those, not only selling the unrooted and bare-root products, but we can integrate those into our own product lines as rooted product,” Riffey says. “Those are some of the things that are exciting about not just doing offshore and taking the price direct to the customer, but saying we have these products; how can they be integrated into our existing lines?”
Learn more about Aris online at ArisHort.com.