I started Miami Tropical Plants in 2013 with a clear vision to make exporting a primary goal and utilize the assistance of SUSTA to build and grow the company. I did market research prior to starting Miami Tropical Plants and the research revealed that Canada was the largest export market for my industry.
SUSTA helped my company immediately. Within 3 months of starting Miami Tropical Plants I participated in two trade events with SUSTA and generated 20k in revenue as a direct result of participating in the events. It is important to note that I identified a need in the market and that need became a niche to which we became known for.
In 4 years , Miami Tropical Plants has grown to more than a half a million in sales and we generate the majority of those sales in three months from exporting. So this summer, I closed the business for the summer and enjoyed a nice holiday in Europe. This was also one of my goals when starting this business to have a seasonal business which allowed me time off.
It is important to note that the plant industry is in a mature and declining market and there are strong barriers to entry. I grew up in and around plants as my father was an entrepreneur and entered the plant nursery business back in the 1970's so I had the privilege of his entrepreneurial traits combined with knowledge to how to enter the market from my brother who now operates my father's business.
Our most successful experience using SUSTA cost share was in 2016 when I created a program for our customers. I set up a promotion that if they purchased plants from us and hosted an event, we would provide giveaways for their event and pay for 50 percent of their advertising. We selected assorted succulent ants in small pots that was easy to give away and ship to them and they selected the pot color and style for the plant. It was a streamlined process for us and had to be because this took place during the high season in our company. We did more than 20k of promotional products that year with SUSTA.
Our customers had the flexibility of selecting a date for their event and designing an event that suited their market. Some customers did anniversary events, others did Mother's Day events, one customer did bask to school events for kids to introduce children to plants as a young age.
It is very obvious to not only look at our sales but to look at a customer's history with us over 4 years to see that this increase in Sales comes directly from gaining more customers and existing customers increasing their sales with us. Some customers took two years to come to us after a trade show but once they came, they stayed and grew their business with us.
The key is that we keep the focus on our customers. We provide an excellent service and high quality products in a convenient manner. Each year we expand our product line to help our customers increase their market share.
What I love the most about having created and grown Miami Tropical Plants is that we are helping small businesses grow in an time when big box stores have become commonplace. We help our customers create a niche and provide a service that draws customers to them. That is an honor to me. My customer's success becomes my success and SUSTA's success. We succeed together.