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About Our Family Business

For 20 years, I was the CEO of my wife’s family business.  The business started in 1999 with her sister importing around 1,000 cut flower orchids from Thailand every week.  But, in less than 10 years, the business expanded greatly, and included as many as 100 employees, 5 different lines of business, 4 locations in Thailand, 3 locations in the US and regular sales of $100,000 per week.

The Orchid Business

In the beginning, I knew nothing of orchids, cut flowers (other that what I saw in florist shops), importing or Thailand.  Within 10 years, we became the world leader in our small niche segment of the $100 Billon global flower industry.  Over time, we expanded into other lines of business, becomming a small, family owned, multi-national Conglomerate.  At our peak, we maintained US locations in Miami, Virginia and Chicago; plus four locations in and around Bangkiok, Thailand.  In addition, we had remote employees in Bogota, Colombia and The Philippines.

Beginning with the import business in the US, we first expanded into an export company in Thailand, because we could not find another company which could produce the quality, variety and accuracy that our customers needed.  Very soon, we realized that we needed control over the logistics of moving the flowers from our production facility to the airport, and onto airplanes for export.  At about the same time, we decided that we would need to develop our own farm for production of the flowers, themselves, in order to improve variety, quality and input price stability.

Our Air Logistics Business at Bangkok Airport

Our Thailand Orchid Farm

information and photos coming soon

As we started buying flowers for our farm, we realized that with our own production of orchid seedlings, we could further improve variety, quality and input price stability.

Our Tissue Culture Lab

For each of these business divisions in Thailand, I was the originator, and for most, my wife, Vara, was the initial business developer.  At my direction, she started building a farm, and took classes to understand how to start the logistics and tissue culture businesses.  She also had to be able to hire, train and monitor the staff we needed.  At our peak, she essentially became our Chief Financial Officer and Internal Auditor.

The leadership of our company changed the market.  Other Thai orchid exporters adopted some of our practices.  Our customers in the US and other countries realized that they had been paying for low quality flowers, poor customer service and limited selection.  For this reason, some Thai exporters despised us and attempted to undermine our business – even to the extent of threatening my life.  (In Thailand, Thai nationals who kill foreigners can go unpunished).

In order to improve the quality of our orchids, we were constantly seeking information about how to make the flowers stay fresher longer.  Eventually, Chrysal, a Holland based company, provided the konwledge and product we needed.  We bacame their importer and representative in Thailand.

Our Chrysal Import Business in Thailand

At some point, we realized we could not expand our market using our SUCCESSFUL business model.  Although we had the largest share of the US market in our product category, while maintaining the highest price, the majority of the market, both in the US and the rest of the world, was content with lower prices and lower product quality, and they were willing to tolerate poor customer service.  So, we attempted to branch into other lines of business.

One of the difficulties in attempting to expand our orchid sales in the US was the logistics problems.  There were not enough flower delivery services to fill our needs.  We made several attempts to operate local delivery services in Washington, DC; Chicago and Miami.  As part of this, we bought a Big Rig and got into the Long Haul Trucking Business – with the hope of providing a better level of service than was currently being offered.

Our Long Haul Trucking Business

One of the lines that came close to success was food import.  We began with importing fresh herbs from Colombia.  Ultimately, we realized that without control of the farm and post harvest processing, we could not develop the reputation for service and product quality that drove the success of our flower business.

Our Fresh Herb Import Business

As a corollary to this, in 2010, the largest flower company in China contacted me to entice me to become their CEO.  After 3 months, I determined that they actually had ZERO interest in product quality, international marketing or operational efficiency, and were actually seeking a fraudulent stock market offering, using a “foreign expert” to bolster their position.