Norbert Engler once started his ‘green career’ in his parents’ nursery in Kevelaer, Germany. At the end of the nineties, he noticed that business was getting more and more slow. He decided to continue as an independent wholesaler. Euroregionales Pflanzen Servicecenter (EPS) now employs 52 people and offers tailored services for specialist shops.

Engler has been supplying flowers and plants to specialist garden centres since 2000. The customer portfolio consists of more than 150 companies, spread across Germany, Austria and Switzerland. EPS operates from 7,300 m2 premises in Kevelaer. There, it adds value to products through sorting and labelling.

“Our philosophy is very clear: we focus on garden centres that prioritise quality. You won’t see us doing business with DIY stores. Not that the quality there is awful per se, it is just that their approach is different. DIY stores and discount stores mainly concentrate on price. The quality is second to that”

The entire process
According to Engler, EPS is the ideal partner for specialist shops. Many of his customers are too small to attend the auctions themselves. “We arrange the whole process for them. We offer the products in all required volumes, no matter how small. We deliver the order within one day. We also keep that promise to our southerly customers.”
In Kevelaer, EPS sorts the products that arrive. If necessary, the company adds labels and logos from customers. “It’s one way of making life even easier for the garden centres.” Engler brings garden centres that wish to innovate along to roadshows and product presentations. “Our company strongly positions itself as a partner to the garden centres.”

EPS has an extensive network of transporters. In the winter months, trucks laden with products drive to Austria and Switzerland, sometimes for as many as eight customers. During busy months, there are many more trucks on the road. “A consignment during peak season contains products for no more than three customers. Delivery is even faster then.”
EPS acquires a large part of its products from Plantion: from violets and heather to perennials and edible plants. Purchasing is often done over the phone, because Engler simply does not have the time to travel to Ede all the time. Sometimes he does arrange meetings at the marketplace: “It’s just that sometimes you need to discuss certain matters with growers or with Plantion employees.”

Engler is very focused on the future. “Nothing is as constant as change. You are always looking ahead to tomorrow and asking yourself: am I making the right choices? Any development you notice and that you should take into account is a scale-up. They’re unavoidable”, says Engler, also chairperson of the BGI (Federation of German flowers and plants wholesalers).
With an eye on the future and the continuity of EPS, Engler transferred shares to his three sons on 1 January. This has increased the EPS’s character of a family business. As well as his three sons, of which one is also a CEO, Engler’s wife and two daughters have also been active in the bookkeeping and administration departments for a long time. EPS is aiming to accommodate its buyers even more this year, with the introduction of a new sales platform. EPS customer can log in to the platform, which includes an ordering module and automatic recommendations for the purchasers that suit their company’s profile. Previous invoices can be downloaded and orders can easily be tracked. “Convenience, service and speed. That’s what it is all about.”


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