Brothers bring the family business into the digital world with support from UWaterloo’s Velocity incubator
May 18, 2023
Landscape Direct is on a mission to connect growers directly to gardeners. It’s Canada’s first fully online garden centre and it was founded by brothers Blake and Evan Patterson who grew up working in their family’s garden centre in Barrie, Ontario.
A new company with the University of Waterloo’s Velocity incubator, Landscape Direct distributes plants straight from growers’ fields to customers. It offers shipping as fast as one day, enabling the online shopper to choose from a larger inventory than other online plant sellers while providing the same quality consumers would get shopping directly from the grower.
“We list growers on our platform, that way gardeners have access to a larger selection than at retail garden centres,” said Blake Patterson, CEO and co-founder. “Every industry has to have an e-commerce presence, but in the past, no one was really doing it for plants. It’s one thing to box a computer or t-shirt, boxing a plant is completely different.”
Landscape Direct isn’t just for individual consumers, it also works business-to-business to fulfill online orders for growers who can’t meet their online plant orders.
Selling plants online only brings its own layer of complexity. First, there’s the packaging, which Landscape Direct has refined every six months since launching in 2019. Then there is precise inventory management and processes for picking orders to safeguard the plant’s health.
“This is where being at Velocity has really helped us. We’ve had the chance to learn from advisers how to position our proprietary software and from business leaders who know how to do this work and make a profit. The founder network and support system is really powerful, especially in the early stages of our company.”Conner Krofchick, Landscape Direct Co-founder, said
While big box stores have sophisticated inventory management systems, the plant caretaking often takes a back seat. Conversely, growers are plant experts but can lack the expertise in inventory and e-commerce to do it successfully.
Landscape Direct merges the two.
“The grower is the professional taking care of the plants, we let them do that, and we are the professionals that box and ship to gardeners,” Evan Patterson said.
Now in its fourth season of operations, Landscape Direct has gone from the three founders and two seasonal staff fulfilling orders using one pickup truck, to 14 staff working out of its Caledon, Ontario-based 10,0000 square foot greenhouse space, which was finished earlier this month.
“Our immediate plans are to expand and open a distribution centre on Canada’s West Coast to corner the Canadian market and reduce shipping times,” Patterson said. “We have this unique opportunity to focus on Canada but eventually plan to expand to the U.S.”
Landscape Direct has been part of the Velocity ecosystem since last year and joined the Velocity Incubator Program stream in May and will continue to work with Velocity’s advisors until it launches from the program.