The ROC Story
It all started by chance and circumstance.
We were stationed overseas in South East Asia for a 6 month assignment. I decided that it would be a good time to take the family and kids out to explore new cultures and gain a little international experience and understanding. We were in Thailand, Malaysia and a few others in the area. While in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia we lived in a nice 2 story bungalow with a tropical garden. A friend call and said she was transferring back to Europe and wanted to know if we would stop by her place and see if there was anything we would like as she was not returning to Malaysia. We noticed she had about 50 Dendrobiums in hanging pots along her balcony overlooking the city. A few of them had white flower. We made a deal and managed to get them into our car. When we got home we hung them around our yard. Within a few weeks time we were amazed to see them all flowering together. Turns out that our place was a lot cooler and the plants were not in the direct sunlight. We also had sprinklers which provided more water than they had access to before. So we were hooked!
After enjoying the flowers and sharing photos back home with family and friends, we decided to send some plants to the house in Miami so we could enjoy them at home. Well, that is when we learned that there were quite a few rules, regulations and tricks of the trade. You have to learn both the export procedures as well as import procedures in the US which are very stringent. We sent a few practice shipments and learned the dos and don’ts. After arriving back home we started potting and giving away the plants to our friends and family. The response was overwhelming and everyone wanted more. Thus began the ROC.
We rented a few greenhouses down in homestead Florida and started to ship. The business at first was supported by sales in bulk to people who resold the plants. In the summer of 2005 Hurricane Katrina on its visit to South Florida blew the top off of our greenhouses exposing the plants to the direct sunlight. It took several days before we were able to get back out to the greenhouses just to discover it was a complete loss. On top of the mess Katrina left in Florida, the storm went on to grow to a category 5 and hit New Orleans which created the worst natural disaster in modern times in the United States.
We decided then that if we were to continue to sell and grow orchids that we would have to take it more serious and develop a way to manage nationwide distribution and reduce costs. This also meant controlling the supply chain and investing in future products. Further we would have to sell retail to get the plants to real people at a low cost. Our resellers were buying the plants for about $10 from us and were selling them from $25 to $50. It was a good business for them, but that is not what we wanted. The ROC wants to deliver low cost, high quality plants to people who can’t afford to buy them to promote the beauty and demand of the plants. People think they cannot afford orchids, but today through us they can. We saw it as an untapped market. You only need the very basic level growing expertise which is available online or in our website. We first opened retail on eBay and later opened our website. People would first buy from our eBay store and later moved on to our website where it was cheaper to buy. (Keep in mind that eBay/Paypal combined fees can cost as much as 35% of revenue)
Today, ROC sells plants wholesale under various brand names worldwide and Retail in the United States. We have delivered more than 2,000,000 plants across the United States and more than 500,000 internationally. We work together both with local growers in several countries as well as grow and propagate more than 1000 different variety of orchid plants mostly of the Vanda, Dendrobium, Phalaenopsis, Oncidium or Cattleya genera. All our plants are commercially propagated and we support efforts worldwide to stop illegal orchid mining of the rain forests and criminal smuggling and possession of endangered species. We also work together with Universities, commercial laboratories and other international commercial organizations to propagate and preserve plants in support of expanding the industry.