Oxford County is home to many family businesses, but one may take the term to another level. Floral Express Wholesale in Norwich Township, just outside of Woodstock, has a unique take on a teamwork experience.
Zara Miklenda is the Sales and Marketing Account Manager for the company, and she says the family flavour is evident. “A lot of our team members bring on family. Win Overbeek founded the company with his wife then son John took over. His son is also part of the business in operations so there are a lot of connections.” She adds there are many siblings and cousins working together in various departments. “It is very tight knit, very close, and we like to think of ourselves as a family.”
The culture at any workplace is crucial to success and Zara says hers is second to none. “Its very positive, very upbeat. There is always lots going on and we tackle a lot of subjects. We have weekly meetings for each department where we discuss and troubleshoot issues or talk about what’s going well and what needs improvement. Every role is very important, and everyone has a say. We solve things together as a team.”
Zara says each sales team member was recently paired with someone from operations to better understand each department’s role and processes. “It gave us a better understanding of the challenges and complications we each have. When you say it out loud, something may not seem overly complicated like if we take an order for a product, and it can’t be filled. But a product may come in and its damaged or is the wrong product so its about overcoming the challenge as a team.”
Floral Express Wholesale sells products mainly to other wholesalers and retailers and they each apply to become a customer, but they also have a department where anyone can buy. “We do have a division where we do supply the market which is called Marche Fresh which is for the public to buy flowers at a discounted price. We also go to the St. Jacobs Market three times a week.”
Like many Oxford County businesses, Zara says the pandemic has created some supply chain issues particularly when the federal government mandated vaccines for truck drivers. “If we would buy product from British Columbia, we used to have it quickly because two drivers took turns behind the wheel. We lost a lot of truckers meaning one driver per truck and the time was at least doubled and the cost also goes up. That was one of our challenges.” She adds a lot of growers have struggled to source products meaning the supply has gone down, demand has gone up, and prices have gone up. “We have worked hard to maintain the good relationships we have to keep those orders coming. It’s been a new challenge almost every day.” Another challenge for the company is the rising cost of fuel which in turn is increasing the price of products shipped by airplane and truck. “It is having a massive impact on the flower industry as a whole,” she adds.
When asked what is next for the established company, Zara says the future is already here with technology. “The way we receive our products is all scanned. There is no paperwork involved and our ordering has switched to online. We have an app, so a lot of customers order on their smartphones or tablets. Everything is now available online and customers can see exactly what we have in the cooler now and what we have coming in. It’s been great to offer those options to our customers.”
Floral Express Wholesale is also working on opening their Dutch Market to allow customers to buy directly from their website. “This will give our customers the opportunity to buy live on the Dutch auction, which opens an entirely new selection of products.” Zara adds they supply both locally grown and imported products from around the world, and their products are constantly moving and rotating to ensure customers get the freshest product available.
It’s a great place to work. I am very content, happy. Everybody is offered opportunities for personal and professional growth. There is always something going on like LEEN training which was very beneficial for evert department. It has helped with accountability and making sure we are functioning at the absolute best. We recently renovated a space into a quite room where there are couches, a fireplace, and vitamin D lamps. Its where staff can go if they need a break or 10 minutes of quiet time. There has been a lot going on around the world and we want to make sure people have a place they can feel at home and breathe without the pressures of the outside world coming in.” She adds you can always be better, and they are constantly striving to do just that.
For more information, visit the company’s website at https://floralexpress.ca/.