Following a 2010 reorganization, BC Hot House, Langley, British Columbia, has plans to grow sales by 28% in 2011 and 45% in 2012, said sales director Kevin Batt.
That’s a big change for a company that, while a mainstay of the greenhouse industry for years, had kept a low profile in recent years.
“BC has been sort of flying under the radar for awhile,” Batt said. “We felt we needed to take a bigger stance.”
The changes at BC Hot House began in 2010, when Sasktaoon, Saskatchewan-based Star Produce formed a strategic partnership with BC Hot House.
As a result of that deal, Mike Reed, who had been Star Produce's vice president of marketing and business development, became BC Hot House’s president.
Batt came on board after heading the greenhouse program for Vancouver-based The Oppenheimer Group for eight years.
Reed, Batt and other BC Hot House executives and sales representatives have made an aggressive push to increase volumes from existing customers and to find new ones, Batt said.
Some of those “new” ones, he said, are old BC customers who have come back into the fold.
“We’re really excited to have some old growers from the glory days come back,” Batt said. “The BC brand still carries a lot of clout. Mike and I have been on the road a lot the past four months, and customers have told us they’re extremely happy they have the BC label to fall back on.”
In those glory days, Batt said, the BC Hot House brand was in many ways synonymous with the greenhouse vegetable industry itself.
“The brand was pumped up with a lot of marketing dollars,” he said.
Reed, Batt and the rest of the new BC Hot House staff are doing all they can to make sure those glory days come back, Batt said.
The brand’s “comeback” was much in evidence at the Newark, Del.-based Produce Marketing Association’s annual Fresh Summit convention in Orlando in October, he said.
“At PMA a lot of people were surprised to see us there, and surprised by our resurgence,” he said. “The brand lost its identity for a few years, and now it’s back, and I think people are excited.”
Much of BC Hot House’s anticipated growth will come through its new Atlanta distribution center, Batt said.
In February the company announced it had opened a new facility in Atlanta with double the square footage. BC Hot House hired industry veteran Paul Cross to head the Atlanta office.
As the company establishes more and larger connections with Mexican greenhouse growers, it became more important to have a stronger presence in the Southeast and Eastern part of the U.S., Batt said.
With much of the company’s Mexican production in the Central and Eastern parts of the country, it made sense, Batt said, to increase its distribution capacity in the Eastern half of the U.S.