Joe Simone, the longtime owner, president and CEO of Fred C. Gloeckner & Company, has just announced his plans to retire from the Harrison, New York, distribution center he's owned since 1990 (he started with Gloeckner in 1975). But Joe’s succession plan is a bit unusual: Rather than sell the business intact, he's come to an agreement with Ball Horticultural Company to transfer Gloeckner’s open orders to Ball Seed, its distribution division. Current Gloeckner orders will be shipped by Gloeckner until December 18; after that, all orders will be managed by Ball Seed.
Why this deal? And why Ball? I asked these two questions (and a couple more) of Joe via email.
“I’ve been very fortunate to know Anna for many years as a customer of PanAmerican [Seed],” he replied, “But not until we worked together in the Seed Your Future organization did I began to understand that the way we approached our businesses and our people was very similar—the cultures were quite similar indeed. Also, it was evident that we had a common interest in seeing good research work continue and developing our staff for the future.”
Joe said there’s no succession plan for the business; I asked him why he went for this deal instead of selling the business intact.
“In working with Todd Billings and Al Davidson (Ball Horticultural’s Director of New Business Development and President, respectively), this path was the best way for the smoothest transition for our customers and our people. We have great respect for the Ball organization, and know our customers and vendors will be in good hands. When two organizations get together from a position of strength in the markets they serve, it usually works out best for customers and employees.”
Joe is conscious of the legacy of the company and feels that Ball will best preserve that, even if the Gloeckner name will go away in the process.
“We have many long-time employees—several in excess of 25 years,” Joe said in the press release. “Our history of dedication to customers, vendors and to colleagues has been very strong. It is similar to the culture found at Ball, which makes this an excellent transition. This agreement allows the Gloeckner investment in people, innovative products and high-quality customer service to be entrusted to an established and respected platform at Ball Seed.”
Gloeckner’s, which was founded in 1934 by Fred and his father, Carl and Leonard J. Seiger, has a product line that includes flower bulbs, specialty cut flower crops, potted plant programs, seed and other grower supplies for North American customers. It has also built significant business in Latin America through subsidiaries and agents throughout Central and South America. Additionally, they operate a state-of-the-art bulb treatment facility in Clackamas, Oregon, where they process millions of specialty flower bulbs for the U.S. market.
I knew that Gloeckner has long been a major supplier of bulb crops. What I didn’t know was that they'd merged with Ednie Flower Bulbs in 2016, with Ednie now a division. Joe and the den Breejen family will continue to operate Ednie and manage its supply chain and technical support for all product lines, which they'll distribute exclusively through Ball Seed.
“[Ednie] has always been what I spend most of my time on and I am looking forward to having a greater focus on flower bulbs and related products,” Joe told me. “Ednie has a good reputation in the growing world of specialty cut flower products, too, which will continue to develop with the help of Ball’s sales efforts."
Finally, I had to ask Joe, “Are you really retiring? What’s your plan for the future, work-wise or play-wise?”
“No, I am not going to have ‘golf as my day job,’” he answered, “Although I do spend some time doing that. I will be working hard to support Ednie and the flower bulb customers we have developed for years full-time for the foreseeable future."