The greenhouse of Schaffitzel's Flower Shop is a sea of red. Manager Mike Schaffitzel says the family business has grown or purchased 650 poinsettias for the season.
Business Spotlight: A Heritage of Horticulture
From the family name, to the 100-year-old “pet” lemon tree and preferred face-to-face communications, heritage reigns at Jerome H. Schaffitzel Greenhouses Inc., a 62-year-old Springfield flower shop run by third-generation Schaffitzels.
Brothers Mike and Tony Schaffitzel, grandsons of founders Jerome H. and Bernadine Schaffitzel, manage the northeast Springfield shop, offering fresh and silk flowers, home décor and bedding plants.
Tony Schaffitzel tends to the four greenhouses on the family’s Fair Grove property, while Mike Schaffitzel handles day-to-day operations on site, 1771 E. Atlantic St., off Glenstone Avenue’s beaten path.
The brothers have been co-managing the operation since their father, Jay Schaffitzel, died in 2004.
Mike Schaffitzel says the boys grew up in the business, and early recollections include holiday parties and open houses at the flower shop.
“Tony and I would stand at the door and hand out calendars to the little old women who came in the door and grabbed our cheeks,” he says. “Of course, Mother’s Day and Valentine’s Day, we were always here late.”
Today, Schaffitzel’s mom Barbara and his uncle Joe own the business. The 9,375-square-foot on-site greenhouse is a sea of red – about 650 poinsettias are ready for holiday orders – with hearty green ferns and figs around the perimeter.
The Schaffitzels grow about 80 percent of its flowers and plants, such as the top spring sellers marigolds and impatiens, and tomatoes and peppers. What products the brothers don’t grow, they buy from wholesale houses in town such as Mears Floral Products, Buffalo Imports, and Baisch and Skinner, a St. Louis-based chain of eight import and distribution centers.
Chris Gray, branch manager of Baisch and Skinner’s Springfield warehouse on North Cedarbrook Avenue, says Schaffitzel Greenhouses is among its 250 customers. The Schaffitzels buy floral arrangement basics such as carnations, roses, greenery, vases and ribbons on a daily basis, Gray says.
The Schaffitzels also buy bedding plants from Interiorscapes in Ash Grove and Double D Greens in Florida, its main supplier.
Schaffitzel Greenhouses then turns around and fills orders from its roughly 5,000 customers, including Integrity Home Care, Woodland Manor nursing home, Parkcrest Dental and Baptist Bible College for a wide array of uses. Mike Schaffitzel says Culver’s restaurant buys cut flowers each week to place in its bathrooms, and Drury University usually purchases ferns for stage decorations during graduation ceremonies. The Springfield Art Museum buys geraniums for an annual fundraiser, he says.
With nine employees, five of them full-time, the company delivers product as far as Fair Grove, Willard, Marshfield and Billings, often for funerals, holidays and birthdays, Schaffitzel says.
Though operating in an industry historically insulated from economic storms, Schaffitzel says 2010 revenues dropped 9 percent to $750,000.
“Usually, a recession doesn’t hit this business. This deal has hit everybody,” he says, projecting flat 2011 sales slowed by a wet and cold spring.
Though a growing part of the business, Schaffitzel chagrins at the proliferation of online orders and e-mail correspondence. “We’re getting to be a nontalking society,” he says, acknowledging he’s adjusted to the changes.
For e-commerce, Schaffitzel Greenhouses partners with Teleflora. Schaffitzel says about 20 percent of sales come through Teleflora, both online and wire orders. The wire service kicks in when Springfield customers order flowers for someone outside of the market, and Teleflora finds an approved florist among its 20,000 members.
Teleflora charges a flat $3.25 for e-florist Internet orders, he says.
The Schaffitzels added home décor five years ago, and the next big push is in the gardening and seeds market, Schaffitzel says, in part with Hummert’s Springfield Seed shutting down two months ago. Schaffitzel Greenhouses sells packaged bulk seed.
“There is hardly anybody in town that has that anymore,” he says, noting some former Springfield Seed customers have since made purchases at his shop. “We’re making a push on that.”
Schaffitzel says it’s too early to tell if the business will remain in the family, with his oldest child only 10 years old. “We’re not that far along yet.”[[In-content Ad]]