Many inquiries have been initiated into the reasons why Foster-Gallagher, the largest direct-to-consumer marketer of horticultural products in North America, filed for Bankruptcy on July 2, 2001, after ceasing all normal business operations on June 29, 2001. Somewhere between 3000 and 4000 employees lost their jobs and retirement benefits, stock-owned equity and $100,000,000 in debt liabilities. The network of companies, owned and operating under the umbrella of Foster-Gallagher, were known by active American bulb buyers for many generations. Stark Brother's Nursery (Stark Bros.) was known and carried the prestige of customer of fruit, nut, berry, plant, grapevine, and other shade tree and vine plants, as the most respected national provider of these products in the United States. National fruit orchard growers were loyal to Stark Brother's Nursery in buying special fruit trees and vines, to plant and grow with an unshakable confidence that a healthy stream of revenue income would be harvested to support American farm families. Superior agricultural fruit products would be made available at the commercial markets with healthy, brightly colored, aromatic berries, grapes, and fruits. How then, could an American nursery with a flawless reputation for excellent quality, service, and a survival record in an extremely competitive business, become the helpless victim of failure and the unforgettable disgrace of bankruptcy? This question might be expanded to involve other Foster-Gallagher owned bulb and seed companies.
Gurney's Seed and Nursery, and Henry Field's Nursery also sold thousands of orders of fruit, nut, and shade trees, etc, like Stark Brother's Nursery, but they likewise sold to a vast market of vegetable seed buyers a market, that in itself was enormously profitable. If these companies were removed from the American markets “Cui bono?” Who would benefit from this demise, and emerge to replace these giants of mail order success in past history? Would the new mail order replacement companies be owned and controlled by the Dutch office located in the Netherlands?
Google search results show that Foster-Gallagher shipped 17 million packages in the year 2000. The amount of income that was generated from consumers ordering and buying 17,000,000 packages is staggering, even for a liberal mind.
Perhaps, the most specific generator of income from the 21 mail order companies owned by Foster-Gallagher resulted from primarily flower bulb sales. The nationally famous bulb companies, Michigan Bulb Company, Springhill Nursery; Breck's Bulb Company; New Holland Bulb Company; and the mysterious facilities located in the Netherlands collapsed, when the parent company, Foster-Gallagher, filed for bankruptcy on July 2, 20001. A national chaotic frenzy followed, when it was pronounced that all those people who had placed orders from Foster-Gallagher owned companies, and all those other customers expecting replacement orders the following season would not have their orders filled. The credibility of disappointed customers placing mail order sales was shattered by these reports of “the cold shoulder” being offered to those who had sunk their savings accounts and planting confidence into Foster-Gallagher companies.
Google search results showed that on September 2, 2001, Foster-Gallagher executives reported that the business collapsed as a result from negative media coverage and caused a precipitous drop off in business income leading to the catastrophic National bankruptcy, leaving a $100,000,000 debt liability to be sorted out in the Federal Bankruptcy Court in the State of Delaware and angry mail order customers who absorbed the bad news that their orders and payments received were undeliverable and noncollectable!
Many questions remain unanswered that point to the present year 2006, after the disintegration of many previously, American-owned businesses, 5 years after Foster-Gallagher disappeared. Have those American owned business, now gone, that represented millions and millions of dollars in sales of Agricultural seed, trees, and Dutch grown bulbs, been replaced by Dutch owned companies that control the horticultural sales that funnel American dollars to offshore moguls based in the Netherlands?
Can an imaginary scenario be presented that might reveal how such a traumatic financial shift could insipidly develop and with impunity change the course of American Agriculture? The might and power of American Agriculture has been legendary in years past, and it is appropriate to consider whether or not American Agriculture dominance is teetering into a progressive state of limbo that might eventually endanger National security.
Consider a complex situational possibility that focused hawkish observers might call “Agricultural Terrorism.” Amaryllis sales are an important bulb Dutch export to the United States as well as many other Dutch bulbs like tulips and daffodils. Could the Foster-Gallagher bankruptcy have developed as a result of the following discussion? The Dutch amaryllis growers produce their bulbs in the Netherlands greenhouses, and exported them to the United States during the fall. The several types of market niches for the Dutch bulb exporters are: florists, fund raisers, Dutch owned re-wholesalers, box-store bulb packagers, and American mail order companies. The Dutch commercial florist customers demand quality, true-to-name cultivars, and the florist grower rapidly plants the amaryllis flower bulbs, and he can confirm the integrity of the flower color in about 3-4 weeks, as soon as the amaryllis flowers are forced into bloom. Mail order American customers are very vulnerable to Dutch amaryllis errors, or to a possible deliberate unloading of diseased amaryllis bulbs or slow-selling surplus amaryllis cultivars. The victimized American mail order company may ship his so-called true-to-name amaryllis to thousands of customers; unknowing of the possible latent motives of the Dutch Bulb Company that may have indirectly victimized a trusting, unsuspecting, American customer. Several months may have elapsed before the American mail order company begins to hear his phones, ringing off the hook from unhappy mail order customers, who received the wrong color bulb, or who might have planted a diseased bulb, ultimately ending with death rot. To fulfill the mail order promise of refund or free replacement, the American company not only loses a customer and marketing credibility; but when he confronts the Dutch amaryllis bulb exporters and suppliers, he is told to look at the bottom of his purchase invoice that reveals there is no Dutch guarantee, so the American mail order bulb merchant gets stuck with insoluble negatives that eventually could lead to the closure of his business.
The lack of a credible Dutch guarantee on their products is obvious in the following excerpt at the bottom of a Dutch wholesale purchase order. The Dutch bulbs that were delivered to an American Customer who purchased approximately $20,000 worth of flower bulbs in 2005-2006 season...
“PLEASE NOTE: NO COMPLAINT ENTERTAINED UNLESS MADE WITHIN FIVE DAYS AFTER RECEIPT OF THE GOODS. We give no warranty, expressed or implied, as to description, quality, productiveness or any other matter of any seeds, bulbs or plants we send out nor will we be in any way responsible for the crop. QUALITY FLOWER BULB PRODUCTS”
Whether the American business closures resulted from the loss of his sales revenue, from a deluge of complaints filed angrily against the mail order company to United States governmental agencies. That accumulation of complaints could result in a revocation of a mail order business license, and that means the victims are two-fold; the American mail order amaryllis bulb company and the customer who did buy his product.
How then, could the Dutch amaryllis bulb company benefit,”Cui bono”, or conspire to benefit from the deliberate malicious act of mischief? The answer to this question becomes clear when the revelation is made that the Dutch exporter also owns a business interest in an American mail order competitor selling Amaryllis to the American bulb customer, who finally ended up as one more more mysterious, unexplained business failure. The dissatisfied mail order complainers might be redirected next year to buy their amaryllis from the Dutch export retail operation that in combination with all the other Dutch owned wholesale and retail operations.
Not only can a mail order company be deliberately stocked with an inventory of untrue-to-name bulb, but the American bulb merchant may, by misfortune receive amaryllis bulbs bulbs infected with the Red Blotch disease, Stagonospora curtisii, that seriously erupts with bright red spots on the amaryllis leaves, the flower stems, the flower petals, and the dormant amaryllis bulbs, both outside or inside the bulb. The red spots are small at first, and increase in size to form large, dark red blotches on tainted, dying leaves, infected bent flower stems, that eventually began to collapse inwards to progressively fatally rot the amaryllis bulb into a pile of malignant brown jelly. It has been possible recently to prove by the investigations of agricultural authorities that the amaryllis rot originated from the exporting Dutch grower; if the red spots originated from the lower cells of the dormant bulb center. The infected red blotch in a number of amaryllis bulbs would point to evidence that the bulbs were intentionally marketed by the Dutch exporters as diseased bulbs with malice apparent.
Another very serious disease is the amaryllis mosaic virus that can spread fast to infect amaryllis flower bulbs with streaks or on the leaves of yellow, reducing normal growth and flowering. Clemson University says “nothing one can do to eliminate mosaic (virus) from an infected plant” and the amaryllis bulbs should be destroyed.
The question remains unanswered: Have the Dutch bulb exporters gained financial control of American agriculture? The Royal Dutch Shell Oil Company reported sales of 306 billion dollars in 2005 and was the second most profitable corporation in the world with its largest revenue coming from the United States.
By Pat Rick