With the two brothers heading a fast growing business they realized that it would be vitally important to set out a business plan. An emphasis was placed on establishing a clear and regular method of communication between Rick and Mike as well as ensuring they each had independent roles and responsibilities. These were divided by clear management lines .This would mean that, although each brother was in charge of his own department, critical business decisions were made together. A succession plan was also put into place for their children and the value of consulting with their parents on past business experiences was never forgotten. With a detailed business plan, Rick as Managing Member and Mike as Sales Member the nursery grew from strength to strength.
During 1999 with the rapid expansion of the nursery water consumption became a critical issue and it was decided to convert all production blocks from overhead spraying to drip irrigation. This increased the nursery’s water efficiency and minimized water wastage. This conversion proved to be yet another critical factor in the nurseries successful growth. Plants are grown with minimal water and wastage was virtually eliminated. Two storage dams were also built to preserve the precious water resources and today the nursery operates with over 500 000 individual drippers. Approximately 65% of the water used in the nursery is re-cycled from the production areas run-off, back into the dams. Elands are extremely proud of the success they have achieved using this water-wise growing technique.
With five retail branches to stock, plant propagation developed into a core focus for the company and Elands Nursery established a reputation for supplying quality plants, not only to their own retail nurseries, but also to other nursery outlets predominantly in the Eastern Cape region.
During 1990 the Carter’s daughter, Dee, joined the business followed by her brother Rick in 1991. Their youngest son, Mike, joined the team in 1997 allowing Dick and Merle time to retire in 1998. As a family business decision the retail branches were gradually sold in the 1990’s and emphasis was placed on propagation and production at the farm in Elands River.
Family farms and small businesses are the backbone of our communities: Tom Allen
Eland’s Nursery was started as a small retail nursery in the early 1970’s by Dick and Merle Carter on the farm Blue Mountains in the Elands River Valley. The business became the family’s key focus in 1978 when Dick resigned as a PE Technikon lecturer and turned his attention to farming and helping Merle in the nursery. With both Dick and Merle involved and with a family of 3 young children the nursery expanded quickly and during 1983 a retail Garden Centre was built on the farm. Further retail nursery branches were later opened in Port Elizabeth, Plettenberg Bay and Uitenhage.
A company is only as good as the people it keeps.: Mary Kay Ash
With the success of the propagation, production and development departments under Rick, Mike found it difficult to keep up with the demands for Elands products in the South African market. It was decided that more sales staff were needed. Mike’s work at building a competent sales team as well as ensuring that Elands products were marketed and sold in all provinces in South Africa proved a winning formula. Elands Marketing and Sales department currently boast an eight member strong team which is known for its friendly service and “always willing to help” attitude.
The sales department has always strived to listen to its clients and in response to the gardening publics need for a ‘well marketed product with an informative label’ the Elands Emerald collection was born in 2006. These groups of selected plants become a huge success as their labels acted as silent salesmen when a staff member was not able to help a customer in a nursery. As an added bonus the information would be at hand to the gardener on returning home. The Elands Emerald Collection has since been discontinued in a drive to add a striking label to the majority of Elands products and not just a select few. These are in great demand and are easily identifiable on retail nursery and garden centre floors country wide.
In 2010, Mike and the Elands sales team once again needed to come up with a new marketing concept and the 15cm colour pot range was introduced. These were once again selected plants ,grown in bright 15cm pots that would scream “buy me” on a retail floor. These proved hugely successful and are still being produced today. Elands Nursery cc currently delivers premium quality plants country wide with a fleet of 8 well maintained 5 - 15 ton trucks.
It's easy to make a buck. It's a lot tougher to make a difference. Tom Brokaw
To make a difference, community projects have always been high on the family’s priority list. They have partnered with Child Welfare South Africa and many other locally based community projects to give back. As part of the marketing strategy, Elands nursery endeavored to promote gardening in and around South Africa to boost plant sales. This was done by way of editorials and advertising to the public, however it was felt something more was needed to make more difference. So in striving to give something back to the gardening public and wanting to educate school children about the importance of plants and gardening the ‘Call Kay” campaign was launched in 2012.
The consumer isn’t a moron; she is your wife. David Ogilvy
Who could have a family run business without family involved? Dick and Merle Carter as well as Dee, her husband Sebastian and son Joshua are always Elands biggest supporters and do not miss attending an open day or showing their support for the nursery.
Rick and Mike are proud Dads to Richard and Emma and Thomas and William respectively. Richard, an engineering student, and Emma, currently completing her matic year, enjoy being involved in various aspects of the nursery especially when it involves earning extra income. Thomas and William , though both still in their primary school years have been brought up by both Mom, Katie, and Dad, Mike, to love the farm and nursery life, they are keen gardeners and seed collectors and spend as much time on the farm as possible.
Angie, Rick’s wife, has always taken a keen interest in the farm and the nursery and is constantly on hand to give “good consumer “advice to Mike and Rick (they need it!). She is actively involved in the marketing of Elands product, the day to day running of the business and supporting her husband.
The Carter families believe that a strong bond, family support and hard work has aided them in making Elands Nursery cc the success story it is today. They look forward to seeing the next generation being part of a new story in the not too distant future.