Growing through the pandemic

Departments - Three Questions

Rocket Farms’ vice president of sales discusses growing both edible products and ornamentals, COVID concerns and more.

Subscribe
October 25, 2021

Photo courtesy of Rocket farms

Greenhouse Management: What has the supply chain been like for Rocket Farms the last 18 or so months?

Wendy Klusendorf: It started off as a real boom time for food products, so our herb and edible category grew a significant amount. Which was also somewhere we wanted to go directionally as well. We’ve been primarily a floral-focused business, especially with our roots in Nurseryman’s Exchange. But in the last 18 months, with people staying home and people being aware of how they get their food, the growth on the edible side has been exponential. The floral side of the business has been good for the last 12 months — the first few months of COVID hit right before Easter shipping in 2020, so that was a really rough time because we threw away millions of dollars of plants because retailers did not know what to do and, at the beginning, there were customers limits.

GM: What has it been like doing business in two categories over the pandemic?

WK: I’ve been in this business for 30 years and I thought I had seen everything. I can tell you know that I certainly had not seen everything. The last 18 months have been super humbling, but also exciting because there are new challenges. There is always a new, fresh approach to come out the other side of a challenge better.

 

We’ve been saying around the company that our crystal balls are broken — I’m not sure how to even look at the next six or 12 or 18 months anymore. And we just don’t have the experience of going through this before where we can say ‘oh, we went through this 10 years ago.’ No one has been through a pandemic before. I will say that we have great partners who we’ve leaned on more than ever and have had meaningful conversations with on how to steer the ship.

GM: Are there still growth opportunities in the next few years in the two markets Rocket Farms servers?

WK: Yes, 100%. We’ll continue to refine our categories and our product line to make sure we are aligning with what we can best execute and what the market is telling us we need to do, and what our key customers are looking for. I’ve had conversations with retailers looking ahead where they are coming to us looking for support, so we just need to deliver. We need to balance the science of growth and the art of balancing all of the unknowns — shipping, increases in costs, access to supplies like growing media and everything else that can cause problems. But we feel the opportunity is there.