Dümmen Orange fleshes out its acquisition integrations


Dümmen Orange, one of the world’s top breeders of flowers and plants, has around 5,000 U.S. and Canadian customers, but the average gardener likely doesn’t know its name — a name that itself is only a few years old. Dümmen Orange’s plants are sold to growers who then sell them at their retail locations, and big box channels often label its plants under a store brand, says Operations Director Kate Santos.

The Columbus team, which is also the North American headquarters, has grown to more than 30 individuals who handle finance, accounting, executive management, marketing, customer service, logistics and IT. Additional sales managers and technical team members work throughout the U.S. and Canada. The majority of the 7,000-plus employees work in the global production facilities.

Dümmen Orange, headquartered in the Netherlands, formed when two major plant breeders merged and then acquired several more companies, Santos says. The organization’s portfolio and standing in the industry grew markedly.

“I came on board right after those acquisitions happened,” she says. “My initial role was building the team support for a wider assortment of products that we were supporting in the market. We went from essentially five employees, to in total, just shy of 60 in North America.”

That pattern of acquisitions has continued, with an average of three to five a year. But supporting day-to-day operations while adding new companies and their products can strain Dümmen Orange’s systems.

“That sometimes has these unpredictable challenges, where you’re basically supporting on those two fronts,” Santos says. “As an organization, how we’ve evolved over the last four years since I’ve been with the company is trying to develop an IT system and structure to help support that.”

System check

Originally, Dümmen Orange planned to keep an acquisition’s systems intact, but create a bridge to the main system, Santos says.

“We learned pretty quickly that was not a good way to go, because each system speaks a different language and sometimes when those languages aren’t translated correctly, it ends up causing a lot of challenges,” she says. “You run into duplication in numbers or availability, so people are seeing, essentially, a ghost availability that they’re booking against that’s not there.”

Last year, for example, Dümmen Orange acquired a succulent producer. Both customer pools were interested in additional plant material, but they needed a straightforward way to do it.

“You never want to lose that momentum and/or excitement for, ‘Hey, now you guys are offering this, but I can’t figure out how to get it,’ or ‘I tried to go through how you guys supply everything else, and that’s not working yet,’” Santos says.