This post may seem silly to a lot of experienced industry professionals. Surprisingly, a lot of people do not fully understand how a re-wholesaler works, the niche they fill and what they do. Re-wholesalers and brokers play an integral role in the daily lives of landscape contractors large and small. A lot of people associate 'broker' with expensive or dishonest. My goal in this post is to clear the air for everyone regarding this very necessary role in our industry. Traditionally a re-wholesaler has a yard or a "nursery" where they store material and a broker does not. Let's get our terminology straight - for the purpose of this post let's consider a re-wholesaler and a broker synonymous.
My most memorable and enjoyable experience in the industry was as a broker or a re-wholesaler. What do we sell? We sell service to the industry. Let's start with the basic fundamentals.
Basically, a broker finds available material that is in demand and facilitates the order to the customer. They purchase the material from a grower, mark it up and re-sell it. Brokers in large part DO NOT GROW THEIR OWN MATERIAL. A lot of re-wholesalers' company names have the word 'Nursery' in it. The majority of these companies DO NOT GROW THEIR OWN MATERIAL. They are facilitators.
You might be thinking "well this sounds like an unnecessary position... all they do is source and sell material from growers? I could do that!" Wrong. It's not that simple. Beyond that, brokers establish quality relationships with growers that afford them lucrative pricing and top notch customer service that isn't seen by 'other' customers or single landscape companies. These benefits are passed on to the re-wholesaler's customer. The smaller contractors get the best benefit - by utilizing a re-wholesaler they are getting a holding yard, a full-time purchaser and a logistics manager to make sure their orders are ready on time.
I've seen some re-wholesalers listed in some spec books lately which is great! However, please understand that when you list a re-wholesaler as a pre-approved supplier you are leaving the true supplier to their discretion which will almost always come down to price. As with any transaction in this industry, if you have a mutual understanding with your broker of choice as to the level of quality you want to see, this shouldn't be a problem. Brokers LOVE landscape architects and LOVE to help projects get designed from the beginning. I encourage any and all designers and architects out there to form a relationship with one. Here are a few of the best in the Austin area: New Nurseries, Shemin Landscape Supply and Better Trees of Texas.
So, why am I preaching for re-wholesalers when the entire purpose of LPS is to connect buyers with their true supplier? Good question! The reason is because the means by which you procure your material is up to the contractor. Whatever suits them best is fine by us! We don't make a dime on any transactions that come out of our site and never care to. We are simply putting the true supply in front of everyone's eyes and want all our users to have the best experience possible.
Furthermore, if an architect or contractor finds exactly what they need and from whom on our site it takes a heavy workload off the backs of our re-wholesaler friends. The broker's inbound calls change from "Hey can you find any <randomplant> in <randomplantsize>? Yeah? How do they look? Can you send me a picture?" to "Hey, I found these awesome <randomplant> in <randomplantsize> grown by <randomgrower> on LocalPlantSource.com... Can you get me (20) of these on your next load to <randomcity>??" This saves an enormous amount of time and headache and everyone benefits.