Stephan Vincent, president of Horticulture Marketing, has been in the horticultural industry for over 40 years. From the very beginning, with a degree in ornamental horticulture in his pocket and studies in administration and computer science, Stephan has had an entrepreneurial spirit and went into business as a landscaper, nurseryman, and landscape architecture consultant.
After these years in the field acquiring expertise and valuable knowledge, he launched his sales and market development agency in 1991. During the last 30 years, Stephan has represented more than ten companies, some of which were leaders in their respective markets such as Les Serres Rosaire Pion and Son Greenhouses inc., Foliera, Connon Nurseries, Sylvain Cléroux Greenhouses, Mori Nurseries, etc.
Over the years, Stephan has developed many lasting relationships with clients of all sizes, from independent garden centers to large banners such as Home Depot, Rona, Canadian Tire, etc. Today, his clients are located in Canada and the United States.
In his spare time, Stephan is very interested in computers, programming and technology. This second passion has led him to develop various software and offer innovative technological solutions that still meet the needs of growers and garden centers today.
Combining his two passions, horticulture and technology, Stephan has been offering turnkey digital marketing services to garden centers for more than 6 years now. He has built lasting relationships with his clients by listening to their needs and delivering good results.
Today, Stephan wishes to continue developing innovative technological solutions for the horticultural industry and create strong ties with the people who keep this industry alive.
We have been in the horticultural industry for more than 40 years and in the technology and web marketing sector for 20 years.
We understand your language and we know how to provide you with digital marketing services to effectively promote your garden center on the web.
We help you refine your online marketing techniques and expand the territory of your business activities. We ensure that our solutions are customized and meet your specific needs. We accompany you throughout the integration process of our digital marketing solutions.
As a result of our services, our clients see an increasing performance in their online business, which is reflected in their financial results. As a result, they benefit from better management of their online presence, which ultimately helps them reduce costs.
We look forward to getting to know you and serving you.
Horticulture Marketing aims to become the leading provider of digital marketing services, recognized by garden centers in Canada and the United States.
Our company offers services that use innovative digital marketing techniques to enable our clients to improve their financial results and the competitive position of their garden center on the internet. .
Motivated by our constant willingness to innovate, we know how to stay on the lookout for new technologies in order to put them to the benefit of our customers.
Passionate about horticulture, we keep abreast of the latest trends in gardening and the environment and we make sure to create interesting marketing content for our clients’ virtual communities.
Our services allow you to cost effectively outsource the process of maintaining and enhancing your online presence. Our company makes it easy for you to promote your garden center on the Internet.
We want to be our customers’ long-term partner in online marketing. This is why we attach great importance to the quality of the services we offer our customers so that they can continue to work with us even after the launch of their personalized digital marketing services.
The beginning of a passion
At the age of 15, my parents bought me a garden greenhouse and that’s really when my passion for horticulture started with the cultivation of tropical plants.
At the age of 17, I started my own business in maintenance and landscaping. During this period, I took a three-year course in ornamental horticulture at the Institut de technologie agricole de St-Hyacinthe (ITA).
At the end of my course, I had five employees. At the age of 20, I bought a nursery in the suburbs of Montreal that I operated for five years. At that time, I was in retail sales and had three landscaping teams. At that time, I was already fascinated by communication and I had an interest in writing. So I started a weekly horticultural column in a local newspaper.
The Jump Into the Big Business
I had the opportunity to sell my nursery and at that time, Centre de jardin Hamel, which had five garden centers in the Quebec City area, offered me the opportunity to become a partner and develop the landscaping department. I told myself that a percentage of five large companies would be more interesting than 100% in a small one and that I would benefit from the support of the associates. A challenge that I accepted to take up and that allowed me to learn more about how large retailers work. After a year and a half of hard work, I felt like exploring another professional avenue that would allow me to put my expertise to good use without having to devote myself to it 7 days a week.
That’s when I was approached by a manufacturer’s agent who offered me the opportunity to work five days a week. We represented 12 suppliers such as Felco ( https://www.felco.com/ ), Pan American Bulbs ( https://www.panamnursery.com/ ), VanVloten Nurseries, Oly Ola ( https://www.olyola.com/ ), Henri Studio ( https://henristudio.com/ ), etc. My market was garden centers throughout the province of Quebec. I will have spent five years with Yves Plante Agencies.
An Entrepreneur Who Diversifies His Activities
During this period, I also started a company named Hortigraph, specialized in printing plant sheets for nurseries. I also offered services in landscape architecture to several garden centers (for their clients) in the Montreal area.
After having acquired a solid experience in both plants and inert materials, at the age of 31, I decided to start my own sales agency (Améri-Flora). I then started to represent:
– Les Serres Rosaire Pion, ( www.serrespion.com/ ) a very large producer of perennials;
– Pépinière Connon, ( www.avknursery.com/ ) a supplier of trees, shrubs, conifers, etc. ;
– Foliera, ( www.foliera.com/ ) a supplier of tropical plants.
At that time ( 1997 ), Rosaire Pion wanted to expand its territory and sell in the United States. The exchange rate gave us an advantage of more than 40%, which allowed us to be extremely competitive.
Therefore, I started going to meet clients in New England and New York State. I developed about a hundred new independent clients in this territory and I opened a few large chains such as Home Depot (www.homedepot.com/ ) and Price Chopper ( https://www.pricechopper.com/ ). After a few years, The Home Depot asked us to operate our sales spaces, water the plants and market (merchandise?) them (VMI); and that we would be paid only on what we sold (pay-by scan). To hire Americans, I had to incorporate an American company (Garden Merchandizing Inc.). This way, I could make the payroll remittances to the different levels of government and offer private insurance to my employees , because there is no government insurance there. In addition, I opened an office in Albany and hired 55 employees to cover our 55 stores, spread over a territory of 1,100 km, from Buffalo, NY to Ellsworth in Northern Maine. It was very exciting to run this business and to have the flexibility to manage inventory as I wanted in each of the stores. We had very good results and little loss. But around the year 2005, the Canadian dollar started to rise, and it became impossible for the grower to sell his products in the United States with a dollar at par. He therefore decided to withdraw from this market.
Growing interest in technology
Parallel to my agency, I founded the company Soft 3D in 1997 which specialized in the design of software for landscaping and plant identification in garden centers. Soft 3D is a kind of mutation of Hortigraph!
My landscaping software (Soft 3D Plan) has been used by about twenty schools to teach computerized landscaping courses and by hundreds of landscapers. The kit consisted of five modules including:
– Soft 3D Panorama: to assemble photos (panoramic cameras did not exist at that time).
– Soft 3D Plan: a CAD software that allowed to make the plan and the plan view
– Soft 3D Image: which allowed to make a before and after image of the shot (we were the only ones on the market to have high resolution photos, which allowed a really striking visual rendering)
– Soft 3D Signs: an estimate section that listed all the products on the plan and allowed to output an estimate to the customer in one click.
– A plant identification section that allowed to print the catalog of plants suggested in the plan for the greatest pleasure of the customers.
In addition, my plant identification software (Soft 3D Signs) allowed garden centers to print on demand their labels and their identification sheets for their plants. I made a generic version of the software for independent garden centers and customized versions of the Botanix and Groupex banners. Réno Dépôt, Rona, and Home Depot required all plant suppliers to use my software to deliver plants identified with their own visual identity to their stores.
Home Depot Canada approached me in 2003 to include a consumer version of a garden encyclopedia in a gardening kit (with various discount coupons). More than 40 000 copies were sold in the sores. Customers could search by different criteria such as color, height, a bit like the Horticultural Basket, our new transactional website that we currently offer to garden centers.
This sales success gave me the idea to create a garden encyclopedia for the general public that was sold in big-box stores, bookstores and tobacco shops. It was offered in a magazine format and sold for $9.99. It was a real success.
In 2004, I saw the Internet growing and I thought that the equivalent of my software would eventually be online. I had a distributor who was selling my products in the United States and who made me an offer to acquire my company, which I accepted.
In 2005, once I retired from the United States and my IT company was sold, I decided to develop a CRM (customer relationship management) application. I kept my software development team and we developed this application for a year and a half. The marketing was quite difficult because we were fighting against giants like SAGE-ACT, SalesForce, Google, etc.
An agency still in business
Améri-Flora always worked well and I added different product lines such as :
– VRE System.( http://vresystems.com/ ) : ith this company, we had all the shopping carts, the display and the greenhouses to make a complete garden center. Having a lot of experience with drawing software, I did garden center planograms for several Canadian Tire and Rona dealers, all Reno Depot, as well as a number of independent dealers.
– Horta-Craft: Company specialized in the marketing and labeling of plants. Growers across Canada use our labels to identify their plants.
– Downham Nursery: This company specialized in supplying plants for Canadian Tire stores. We supplied over 235 stores across Canada. Most of the merchants would ask me to prepare their order based on what I thought would sell best. The owner retired and the nursery closed.
– Mori Nursery: It was the largest nursery in Canada with 2,000 acres of plant material and with Mori Star Nurseries, specializing in perennials on about 50 acres. With Mori Nursery, we supplied close to 250 garden centers in Quebec. The owner being 86 years old and no one to take over decided to close the business.
Creation of Horticulture Marketing
After experiencing two closures, one after the other, I began to create horticultural content to offer garden centers newsletter programs that would not only allow garden centers to be present each week with their customers, but also allow customers to be better educated and successful in their gardening projects.
This is where Horticulture Marketing Inc. was born!
For almost six years now, we have been creating horticultural content, year after year for the pleasure of consumers, but especially to help garden centers with their marketing. We free (vérifie le texte français, on aurait dû écrire libérons) them from the burden of managing social media, build their credibility with their community and propel their business into markets that they did not have access to before.
We manage Facebook pages, have newsletter programs, create and maintain websites, flyers, etc.
Our extensive knowledge of plants and their commercialization sets us apart, making life easier for garden centers that do business with us because we understand exactly what they need.
The Horticultural Basket
And now, we have just finished our latest baby, the Horticultural Basket. A web platform for pre-purchase or online sales. A website where you can find thousands of plants and where you can search according to different criteria and print identification sheets for plants and inert materials.
A platform where one can easily add to the database the products of suppliers and display only products that garden centers have purchased from these suppliers. By simply importing a confirmation from the supplier, we display online products ready for sale.
I sold Soft 3D in 2005 thinking that what we had created would become obsolete with the arrival of the Internet. That did not happen (as far as I know) and now we’re creating it!
I am incredibly happy with this platform that will inform and simplify the life of gardeners who do not wish or cannot get out in these times of COVID. Of all those young people for whom buying online is something that goes without saying.
But above all, for all those garden centers that want to follow the parade and who want to be supported by a competent team that will make them more widely known in their territory.
We look forward to talking with you!