“Where will I wander and wonder?
But wherever I`m going I`ll go
In search of a Rose”
–From the song “In Search of a Rose” by The Waterboys
Just after Labor Day, Tom Royer is going in search of a certain type of rose.
“We don’t want a rose,” said Tom, Connells Maple Lee’s senior vice president and chief operating officer. “We want a rose. We want the best rose and that’s what we need to do to be competitive in our business, is find the best of the best.
“We pride ourselves in doing that. Our flowers last longer, they’re bigger. We constantly have to be looking at all the things that are available to us to make what we do in the flower business better than what anybody else does.”
Tom, who visits flower farms in South America multiple times each year, will be returning to Quito, Ecuador, to meet with three or four rose growers (and a lily grower).
In some ways, this is nothing new. Tom is always in pursuit of better-looking, longer-lasting flowers.
“I’m constantly looking at farms,” Tom said. “It’s just now that the focus has been more on Ecuadoran roses.”
Specifically, he is looking for roses that have bigger head sizes, consistently. It costs more to ship fresh-cut roses from Quito than from Bogota, Colombia, the single-biggest source of Connells Maple Lee roses.
“So all things being equal, why would you buy from Quito?” Tom said.
“Well, Ecuadoran roses have always had a little bigger head size, and we’re focusing more and more on that.”
While its farms are capable of growing roses comparable to what is found in Quito, Bogota experiences more rain and clouds that can be detrimental to head size.
One of the growers that Connells Maple Lee buys from in Colombia also operates farms in Quito.
“And so we’re getting some of their Ecuadoran farm’s (roses)” and comparing with the ones from Bogota. “And the thing you see is the head size is bigger.”
Tom’s trip will help him determine which one or two farms in Quito he will work with.
“But we’re experimenting with them because you can’t just get a shipment and say, oh, OK, great, this is wonderful or it’s terrible. One shipment doesn’t tell the story. You have to do it over a number of months.”
And even then it’s a never-ending process.
“But wherever I`m going I`ll go
In search of a Rose”
Wherever he’s going, Tom is in search of a rose, too. The best rose he can find.