Growing Pains

As the saying goes, a company is only as strong as its weakest link. For us, that weak link is shipping. Shipping perishables is extraordinarily complicated. The timing of shipping flowers has to be perfectly orchestrated and we learned this week that we have outgrown our existing shipping protocol. This week has been the most painful week of our business to date. If you know us, you’re well aware that we’re people pleasers. Not having any control over the events this past week left us broken and beyond sad.

We began planning months ago for Mother’s Day. We timed our roses to bloom at just the right time (super hard to do) - check. Hired and trained 50 new employees - check. Purchased 800SF of new cooler space - check. Ordered thousands of supplies, purchased new farm equipment and put together a logistics and customer service team to pull it all off.

Unfortunately our current shipping protocol with FedEx wasn’t able to be accommodated this week for Mother’s Day and we found out at the worst time - in the middle of the week. We farm in a huge agricultural and seafood region and space on FedEx planes is scarce. FedEx knows us well and they typically have no issues fitting hundreds of our boxes into their planes each day. Our drivers roll up to the FedEx terminal in Santa Barbara Monday through Friday and our roses are expedited quickly. This week should have been no different as we informed FedEx that we would have increased volume for Mother’s Day. Sadly, their planes were bought out by a huge flower company and there was no space reserved for us. Without space on planes, our roses cannot go anywhere since we use only priority overnight service. FedEx quickly strategized to drive our roses to other airports hours away that might be able to accommodate our boxes, but at the cost of us losing time and hundreds of boxes being grounded and delayed. Our roses were driven in non-refrigerated trucks and damages were incurred to roses we lovingly grew and packed. There is absolutely nothing worse than knowing our roses arrived dead for our customers.

We went into last week with three coolers filled to the brim with tens of thousands of roses. We worked around the clock in shifts to harvest and bunch roses and make bouquets. Not being able to send all the roses we worked tirelessly to grow and make into something beautiful is heartbreaking. The hardworking men who harvest our roses have been working nonstop from sun up to to sun down and cutting 25,000+ roses a day. We employ entire families of women who work in our barn processing and shipping our roses. They really put their hearts into this past week!

FedEx is dealing with a monumental surge in business due to the pandemic. They have thousands of contractors working for them to help with the volume and things are not normal for them at all. Our FedEx rep, who has been with the company for 20 years, has never seen anything even close to this past week in terms of volume. They are so inundated with shipments. If we didn’t require overnight service our boxes could have been shipped in smaller batches on a slower time schedule, but due to the perishable nature of our roses, that’s just not possible. Many of the boxes of roses we shipped got delayed in transit at FedEx hubs around the country due to the massive increase in business they’re experiencing. 24 hour delays mean our roses aren’t going to arrive in the best condition and thousands of emails flooded our customer service team.

We have heard from customers that some of our shipments have been smashed or destroyed. We are working to replace those shipments as soon as we can. Please be patient and we will make it right. All the florists we have worked with over the years know we always take on the financial burden of replacing our roses for them when our roses are destroyed or delayed in transit. You might need to wait a bit, but we will happily replace anything that’s not delivered as expected.

We are so deeply sorry to those affected by this shipping fiasco. We could not even give you updates as to when to expect boxes because we simply didn’t know which of our shipments made it onto planes and which did not. With our email flooded and us on the phone with FedEx nonstop, we simply could not address every person. This has been the worst week ever. Even though more than 65,000 of our roses arrived safely, there’s a significant amount that never got off the ground. We feel like failures. We haven’t slept and have been wrecked with grief. All our planning and investing in this week was thrown out the window once our shipments couldn’t get off the ground in time or were stuck in transit.

The silver lining.... Now that Mother’s Day is over, FedEx is much less burdened and we expect our shipments to be on time. Those of you who didn’t receive roses last week would have probably gotten them late (dead), especially if you live east of the Rockies. Since FedEx is back to normal now, you will likely receive beautiful roses on time!

We want to let you know that we are working closely with our FedEx rep and the management at the airport we ship out of to ensure they can handle 1) our volume and 2) the perishable nature of our shipments. Once FedEx was aware of the disaster our business experienced last week they sent upper management to our farm immediately to work with us on a plan for the future. They were unaware of our quick growth and now understand what we need as shippers of perishables. We kindly ask you to give us grace while we strategize with our partners at FedEx to ensure the safe arrival of our roses.

For those who wonder why we will continue with FedEx after this mess, the answer is simple. They work hard for us and they are experiencing pandemic related issues. FedEx is also the designated shipper for California flower growers and we’re part of a negotiated rate plan that allows us to ship in volume and pass discounted overnight shipping onto you at 70% off retail rates. FedEx is our best and only option and they’ve always come through for us with only occasional hiccups. This week was a once in a lifetime event for FedEx and we are not angry with them. FedEx is our shipping partner and we are excited to work together to ensure the safe arrival of our product.

For those affected by our shipping issues this week, we will be making the setback you experienced right. You should have already received an email from us with our offer to replace your roses and provide a complimentary gift card for a future order. Again, we are so deeply sorry and we value each and every order. Whether it’s a wholesale or retail order, every order is handled with the same care.

We appreciate your patience and understanding as we are growing quickly. We are striving to make shipping a strength, not a weakness. This week has made some business decisions we already had in motion more clear and decisive. While we will always ship our garden roses, we are moving swiftly to bring new offerings to you that are education based and non-perishable. We simply cannot handle the stress of all our revenue coming from shipping perishables. Farming is hard enough as it is, especially the way we farm outdoors and organically. Shipping perishables is nonstop anxiety and stress for two people pleasers such as us. This week has taught us many lessons as we go forward with a fresh perspective and we sincerely thank you for your support. Xo

David Austin Garden Roses

The world's most loved and cherished garden roses for English breeder, David Austin.

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