Mar 5, 2004
Goldsmith/Fischer PartnershipSource: Various

Fischer and Goldsmith Seeds, Inc. has announced a partnership, making Fischer the exclusive production, distribution, marketing and sales channel for all Goldsmith vegetative varieties in North America, Europe and Asia.

Goldsmith has licensed Fischer to produce and sell all of their vegetative products. “We are out of the vegetative market. We will continue to do breeding on vegetative crops and seed crops and will continue to produce seed crops,” said Joel Goldsmith, president of Goldsmith. Over time, Goldsmith Plants will cease to exist as a separate company.

Goldsmith’s entire line of vegetative varieties comes under this exclusive partnership, including: impatiens, petunias, calibrachoas, snapdragons, angelonia and verbena. Goldsmith vegetative varieties will be offered through Fischer’s existing broker networks and sales channels. Customer and technical support for all Goldsmith vegetative varieties will also be provided by Fischer.

“We will be increasing our technical service staff,” said Gary Falkenstein, co-president of Fischer USA. “Our internal operation won’t be affected much.” The technical service additions will be needed with the expansion of the China facility. Fischer’s certified China facility will be expanded to 28 acres to hold the Goldsmith geranium production. “The educated, motivated staff at the Shanghai facility is achieving great results in terms of productivity and plant quality,” said Falkenstein. In addition, some ivy geraniums will be produced in Israel, and our Israel facility, along with our Portugal facility, will also house the other Goldsmith crops.

Geraniums vs. Geraniums?

The agreement brings the product lines of two of the world’s leading geranium breeders together. When asked why Fischer would be interested in a competitor’s geranium line, Goldsmith, said, “We have been very successful with our lines, and the Goldsmith and Fischer geraniums are very different. Fischer is known for more compact plants, and we are known for a more robust type. This whole arrangement grew out of Fischer’s desire to help a friend in need and meshed with their goal to expand product offerings.”

“Goldsmith offers some strong colors with good characteristics that Fischer does not have,” added Falkenstein. “This will expand our availability.” Falkenstein also believes Goldsmith’s geranium customers are a loyal group with particular preferences. “It’s almost like the automobile industry. People buy a certain model or type, because they are comfortable with it and they trust it.”

Some Ralstonia Talk

According to Goldsmith, there are two main reasons for the agreement:

  1. Goldsmith thinks there is a perception in the industry that their geraniums are risky and that even if they get recertified, this perception will follow them.
  2. After two years of horrendous liability, Goldsmith cannot take the risk of shipping geraniums into the U.S. market – not until APHIS has a better plan for testing and handling future occurrences.

Faulkenstein wants the industry to keep a few things in mind:

  • Production in China is high tech and disease free.
  • Goldsmith is world-renowned for its breeding.
  • Fischer’s worldwide locations are extremely interconnected, allowing instant communication.
  • Fischer prides itself in its helpful customer service, throughout any problem.

Goldsmith still has outstanding accounts receivable and payable and wants to conclude all business related to the Ralstonia occurrence before dissolving the company. Goldsmith stressed that this agreement does not mean Goldsmith Plants is going bankrupt – they are not – and that they do not see this as a way to eliminate their responsibility to growers affected by Ralstonia.

Future Marketing

The 10-year arrangement calls for all Goldsmith vegetative products to be sold by Fischer and identified, for example in the Fischer catalogue, as bred by Goldsmith. This means that all the Goldsmith vegetative material will remain under The Flower Fields brand, and in that respect, consumers and some garden centers will not even know of this change.

At Pack Trials, former Goldsmith Plants’ material will be in the Fischer section. Fischer USA will distribute a supplemental catalog displaying all Goldsmith Geraniums including new varieties for the 2005 season. Goldsmith’s other vegetative annuals will be included in Fischer’s spring plants catalog.

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