Ceres Gardening Case

800 Words4 Pages
Ceres Gardening Company:
Funding Growth in Organic Products
Jonathan Wydown, CEO of the Ceres Gardening Company, scrutinized the figures presented by
Annette O’Connell, vice-president of Marketing. It was December 2006, and the two were finalizing the firm’s marketing strategy and objectives for 2007. Having just received the latest industry report on growth and trends, they discussed the implications for Ceres (see Exhibit 1). O’Connell observed:
This report confirms what we believed—growth in organic gardening products is strong, and the trends should support long-term growth. And our own growth is outpacing the industry, especially since we launched the GetCeres™ program. We are clearly doing something right, and we’ve got to
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Reflecting on the early days of the business,
Wydown recalled:
I was confident that the same principles behind organic farming would eventually apply to home gardens and lawns. I believed that consumers would start to recognize the value of avoiding genetically modified seeds and synthetic fertilizers, and I wanted to build a business that was consistent with my own convictions.
Under Wydown’s leadership, Ceres developed a selection of certified organic seeds and seedlings for vegetables, culinary herbs, and flowers.
Ceres’s principal farm was located in central California. As the business grew, Ceres expanded its product offerings to include more open-pollinated, organically grown, and heirloom varieties. The company also added live plants, such as one-year-old fruit trees. Customer demands quickly exceeded Ceres’s capacity, so Wydown developed a network of small, independent organic farms, offering them a commitment to purchase goods in exchange for an exclusive supplier relationship.
Sales and profits grew steadily through the late 1990s and early 2000s. Wydown took Ceres public as a microcap in 1999, giving the early investors an exit opportunity. He was particularly gratified when a number of Ceres’s independent suppliers and key dealers became shareholders. Wydown commented: The notion of “doing well by doing good” is not an easy one to execute. Getting a unique concept like ours to the next stage requires everyone involved—not just

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