Bob Quick In just over a year, and during the worst economic conditions for a long time, Ron Midgett has started New Earth Orchids and made the business turn a profit.
How did he do that?
"It's a question we've been asking ourselves," Midgett said in a recent interview. "I guess what we've done basically is develop a variety of revenue streams. ... Not just one stream."
Midgett also praised the local economic-development organizations — including the Small Business Development Center at Santa Fe Community College, the Santa Fe Chamber of Commerce and Northern New Mexico Connect — for the advice and support they provided him.
Midgett started the business in September 2011 in a greenhouse on Jaguar Drive at Plaza Contenta with a clear mission in mind: He wanted to sell orchids ranging in price from $10 to $3,000 for rare specimens.
"Our mission is to provide Santa Fe and greater New Mexico with the best variety and quality orchids available," Midgett said. "And to provide information and help to all who want to grow these incredible flowers through our workshops and newsletter."
Midgett said New Earth Orchids' retail store brings in about 25 percent of the company's revenue through retail sales, with the leasing program providing another 25 percent. An additional 15 percent comes through wholesale, and the rest is Internet sales.
The orchid-leasing program continues to grow and develop, Midgett said, both from individuals and businesses.
"We've recognized that a lot of the homeowners in Santa Fe are wealthy," Midgett said. "If we can continue to appeal to that clientele, it will help a lot. In fact, we have developed some business from the affluent customers who keep us busy."
A major commercial client has been Thornburg Investment Management, a Santa Fe money-management firm, which bought 30 orchids at a company party and gave them away to those in attendance.
Sales also were strong at The Santa Fe Symphony and Chorus' holiday party at Las Campanas.
"It's a way for us to reach a segment of the population we wouldn't normally have access to," Midgett said. "It was good for our business. And some people bought additional plants at our greenhouse."
New Earth Orchids also benefits from the fact that Midgett is such a well recognized orchid expert who travels the world to talk about a plant that is growing in popularity.
"Orchids have displaced poinsettias as the No. 1 household plant," Midgett said. "Sales in the U.S. are very strong."
Midgett spoke at the Hawaiian Tropical Flowers Association in Hilo, Hawaii, and later was invited by the Taiwan Growers Association as an American Orchid Society judge, one of only 12 society judges to provide judging at the Taiwan International Orchid Show.
"It was a very well-received talk," Midgett said.
When it came to local business development, "my first contacts were Val Alonzo and Deborah Collins at the Small Business Development Center at Santa Fe Community College," Midgett said. "Val directed me in setting up a business in New Mexico. It's a lot more complicated than it was in New Jersey."
In addition, "Northern New Mexico Connect has provided marketing support and website analysis to help us develop contacts and improve our website," Midgett said.
Midgett also joined the Santa Fe Chamber of Commerce because it "was a way to get our name out there. We couldn't have done it otherwise."
He also hooked up with Clare Zurawski, who provides website optimization at WESST, a local business assistance group.
"I only had to pay 10 percent of the cost," Midgett said. "The rest was picked up by Northern New Mexico Connect."
Summing up, "we owe our success to ... having worked with all of these groups."