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Case and Jerry Van Wingerden
Westland Floral and FloralAmbiance.com
Products Raised or Grown: Flowers
Size of Operation: 100 acres, 1.3 million square feet of greenhouses
Years in Business: 40
Farm Credit Partner: Farm Credit West
Years Working with Farm Credit: 40
One of the largest U.S. growers of long-lasting exhibition-grade cymbidium orchids started its growing tradition ten generations ago in Holland, where the Van Wingerden family raised vegetables and flowers. In 1971, two brothers who had immigrated to California several years earlier founded Westland Floral, a company that they’ve since expanded from its initial eight acres to encompass 100 acres of field- and greenhouse-grown flowers.
Over the past forty years, Case and Jerry Van Wingerden have demonstrated a commitment to delivering high-quality flowers and exemplary customer service. In 2004, this commitment took a new turn: the brothers recognized that consumers were increasingly choosing to buy their flowers online, and that this presented Westland Floral with a business opportunity. They founded FloralAmbiance.com as their online retail arm, and have consistently grown the business through sales of individual bouquets and wedding arrangements featuring their orchids, Gerbera daisies, lilies and mums – all long-lasting flowers, a key consideration for shipping nationwide. Westland Floral also continues to provide California grown flowers to national mass market retail chains, delivering hand-tied bouquets for resale.
“We expect our online growth to continue for both the mass market and consumer audience,” says Case. “We’re a luxury product, so we know that it’s essential that we continue to innovate with new value added services to our mass market customers and continue delivering high-quality products and service to our consumer audience.” One innovation for their mass market customers is the development of special sleeve art for retail customers, which increases brand recognition and encourages repeat customer business.
Another important consideration for the Van Wingerdens is using sustainable practices, which include integrative pest management in place of pesticides, recycling and composting clippings, and using steam cleaning on the soil to kill bacteria, reducing the need for chemicals. Another key component of Westland Floral’s operation is their 30 acres of hydroponic greenhouses, a growing approach that was initiated 15 years ago. This enables them to increase production and product quality while also delivering environmental benefits: they collect and reuse all the irrigation water, reducing water use and eliminating run-off into the groundwater, and they reduce their energy use through computerized systems that maintain an ideal growing environment.
“We recognize that we have a responsibility to do what we can to protect the environment,” says Case. “This can also lead to more efficient production, which benefits us as well as the environment.”