Van Belle Nursery
Life with a little greenery is inherently better. This philosophy is what began Bill and Grace Van Belle on their journey into the world of nursery growing. What started out as a landscaping business blossomed into a full-fledged nursery with sophisticated propagation and finished container operations fuelled by a leading edge product line. Based in Abbotsford, B.C., Van Belle aims to be the first choice provider of flowering shrubs for growers throughout North America, and garden centres throughout Western Canada.
Plant propagation takes an expert hand to create quality products, particularly for the cold Canadian climate. With proven expertise in cold-hardy plants, Van Belle Nursery maintains three main growing sites in British Columbia: Hallert, Cliffside, and Clayburn, which span more than 80 beautiful acres. Between these locations Van Belle produces more than 500 different varieties of plants and offers both landscape staples and the latest trends from top plant breeders around the world.
“We specialize in propagating flowering shrubs and other plants which we send across North America to other wholesale growers. These growers then grow these for their local market,” says DeVonne Friesen, Manager, Sales and Marketing for Van Belle.
Van Belle’s highly sophisticated facilities and team of highly trained, well-educated growers take the guess work out of propagation, the delicate art of growing plants from cuttings. Van Belle also has access to the best plant genetics.
“Our goal is that nurseries around North America who don’t specialize in propagation will look to us to be their propagation partner,” says Friesen. Van Belle’s customers can depend on the company for quality plants so that they can focus on their own market. Propagation is a difficult and costly operation, and can represent a lot of potential waste and loss. “We take a lot of risk out of the equation,” says Friesen. “When they order 1,000 of a certain plant, they get 1,000 good plants. We can take away their worry and help with their efficiency.”
In speaking to Friesen, it becomes abundantly clear how genuine their commitment is to being the best partner to their customers. Throughout its years of success, it’s the relationships that Van Belle has fostered of which it is most proud. “Our goal is to build partnerships,” says Friesen, “and I think what makes us successful is we aim to develop relationships. We do not view an order as just a simple transaction. Rather, it’s an opportunity to understand customers as people and what they need for their businesses. It enables us to serve them well, and to keep serving them well as they change and grow over time.”
Growers and retailers: two important segments
Van Belle Nursery focuses on providing customized solutions for their customers, and this starts with producing plants that will meet the end-consumer’s needs.
Every year Van Belle produces between 3.5 million and 4 million plants and is committed to providing an inspired product mix for nurseries, and ultimately their customers. “We are committed to offering great performing plants that will create quick sell through because the consumer gets excited about what they see on the shelf.”
Many nurseries and garden centres across North America are loyal, repeat customers and Van Belle Nursery doesn’t take them for granted. Van Belle has a reputation for being the first choice for wholesalers who appreciate that plant quality and customer focus are equally prioritized. To keep meeting the needs of their partners, Van Belle understands the need to innovate.
Van Belle has a number of unique business practices specialized for its industry, a testament to its focus on bringing value to customers. For example, Van Belle ships the majority of their plants on retail ready racks designed to make it easy for the garden centre receiving the product. “We want to make it as pain free as possible for a garden centre to resell our plants, so the idea is that they can place the rack in their store, unwrap it, and begin selling immediately.”
And part of making it easy involves customizing plant labels for each customer. Van Belle is equipped to provide customers with full colour, full-bleed tags, including customized retail and SKU information. Van Belle has a wide variety of live goods on offer including broadleaves, deciduous, evergreens, vines, fruit, perennials, and select annuals. Each variety has its own expert team cultivating the perfect leaves and flowers for the valued Van Belle customer. Van Belle offers an extensive online and printed guide to all of its plants, making it easy for the customer to select the perfect combination.