Alkavat, great roses at great height

At 3200 meter altitude it is the highest rose farm in the town Cayambe, Ecuador. Right on the skirts of the volcano Cayambe lays the farm of the Alkavat group. Carrying the brands Valle Verde, Sol pacific and Foxy roses. They grow all kinds of roses since 2005. If you look up from the highest part of their 54 hectare farm you see the volcano on top of the hill, the scenery is spectacular. Alkavat and Flowex are already partners since 2009 and we could describe the partnership as a friendship that keeps growing. Today we talked with Kathrine Hordoiza, general manager of the Alkavat group. She tells us passionately about her company and the beautiful roses they grow.

One thing that immediately gets our attention is the altitude of the farm, it is much higher than the other ones in this region. Why did they choose to go so high in the mountains? Kathrine explains us that when they started, they had a farm that was much lower, near Quito. At this farm they had significant quality problems and wanted to improve their quality. They started looking for other places that where: higher up in the mountains, had water and room for expansion. They came across a former dairy farm that is now the beating heart of the Alkavat group. With 54 hectares, and this year growing with 5 hectares, it met all the requirements. Thanks to the altitude the roses are stronger, grow longer, have a better vase life and the colors are bolder and brighter. This ensures a better quality of the roses.

Take a look at the farm of Alkavat

High quality, eco-friendly and social responsible

Striving for high quality fresh roses, grown as eco-friendly as possible and be a social responsible company, that is what Alkavat stands for. They take sustainability and ethical rose growing practices very seriously. Kathrine says, they strongly believe that taking care of their employees and the environment can create the best quality roses while having a positive impact. Most employees live close to the farm and their kids go to the school that Alkavat funds for them. They take care of the health of their employees and families with for example dental services at the farm. They celebrate Christmas and other holidays together with the kids of the employees and give them recognition and funds for their good grades at school.

To take care of the environment they have numerous projects to improve the environmental practices at the farm. Last year they started to install solar panels, the first stage is now fully installed and in September they will start with the second stage. The goal is to be completely self-efficient.
As a rose grower you have to use chemicals to protect your crops. These chemicals come in the water and will pollute the river. To prevent this from happening Alkavat cleans their used water and with the help of specific plants that take out all the residues. The plastic covers that are used are picked up by certified companies and recycled.

Solar panels Alkavat farm
River Alkavat farm
Waterfiltering Alkavat farm

Unfair competition

Kathrine sees that after the pandemic the number of illegal farms in the valley has dramatically increased. Nowadays the whole valley is covered in plastic she tells us. The problem with these small farms is that they cause unfair competition as they don’t pay royalties to the breeders, taxes and social services. She tells us a group of her employees work at these farms after working hours and it worries her that: they make very long days, are not insured and most of the time don’t the right or correct equipment when working with the chemicals on the roses. The chemicals used on the roses are not registered and can be toxic for the consumer and the workers. It can cause major pollution of the environment and especially the river that is the main water source for the whole region. Formal farms like Alkavat try to use as much eco-friendly products as possible to control diseases and pests. Special water control systems make sure the water is thoroughly cleaned before returning it to the river, to minimize the environmental impact.

Key to succes

The relationship between Alkavat and Flowex started in 2009 and has grown stronger ever since. Kathrine and Flowex are satisfied with our partnership where we help each other whenever we can. We both strive to give our customers an excellent service experience. This is the key to the success of both of our businesses that strives to provide our customers of excellent Ecuadorian Roses.

An architect in the flower business

Kathrine talks with a lot of enthusiasm and is visibly proud of her company and employees. Originally she studied and worked as an architect and lived in the US, where she met her husband with who she has three kids. When she came back from the US she started working at the family construction company. Where little by little she started to get involved in the flower business. ‘The motion, the people and the traveling of the flower business captivated me and let me enjoy life from a different perspective’, she says.
To balance her sometimes hectic days she loves to go out running and tries to live as healthy as possible. Kathrine is very clear when we ask her about what makes her happy ‘I love to see the smile on people’s faces when they receive our flowers. When we give flowers to the people in the office on mother’s day, their smile makes me happy. When you get flowers you get happy and it gives you a smile. That is the beauty of our business’.

With their 600 employees and 54 hectares of garden, spray and regular roses we can understand that Kathrine is very proud of her company. She values her staff a lot as they are always trying to make a big effort to please the clients. She says that is where there strength lies, ‘we strive to do the best we can for our clients. That’s what drives us as a team. When needed we make extra hours or come in during the weekend. We have a very strong team and I am very thankful for that.’

Planting process roses
Alkavat farm Ecuador roses
Employee carries boxes with Ecuador roses

Garden and spray roses become more and more popular

Together with this team they grow a wide variety of regular, spray and garden roses. 20 years ago the traditional red, white and yellow roses where popular. Nowadays they closely watch the latest trending colors in fashion. The garden and spray roses are getting more and more popular, especially the romantic garden roses, with their dynamic shape and texture they stand out from the regular roses. This year they started with 15 new varieties, where at least 6 of them are garden roses.
One of Kathrine ’s most interesting varieties is the Veggie rose. This variety looks totally different from a regular rose, Veggie intrigues and captivates you. Looking like a sort of lettuce, it is a unique variety. Kathrine loves the romantic Quicksand rose, they are elegant, pure and their color is beautiful when they open. Quicksand is absolutely a stunning variety and is especially popular during wedding season. When we ask her how they choose their varieties she tells us it’s one of the most challenging tasks. You never know if you are picking the right thing. Luckily it’s not a one men job, the agronomist and sales department have a big say in making the right selection but they also closely watch the latest fashion trends and ask for the advice at the breeder. Kathrine says she really has to trust her people in making the right decisions in which varieties they are going to pick up. But you never know if what you pick is going to be a hit or you have to remove it in 2 years.

Quiksand Ecuador rose
Veggie Ecuador rose

Valle Verde, Solpacific and Foxy roses from the Alkavat group are grown at approximately 3200m on the skirts of the Cayambe volcano. Offering a wide range of all kinds of responsibly grown roses, we are sure you will be impressed by them. Alkavat believes that when taking care of their employees and their environment, they can grow high quality roses that have a positive impact. With their excellent service they always try to help us to fulfill our orders, which makes them a long term and reliable partner. Together we created a beautiful video where you can get to know the Alkavat group and see where and how their flowers are grown and fall in love with their beautiful roses. Are you interested in roses from the Alkavat group? Do not hesitate to contact our sales team and see their beauty for yourself.

Founded in 2002 Flowex started as a modest company with a small assortment of cut flowers from South America, focusing mainly on the Dutch market. Now, around 20 years later, Flowex is a flourishing international company with a large customer base and big assortment. Let’s meet directors Marcel Ursem and Peter Meskers!

As a proud father of 4 sons and with his dog, Marcel is a real family man. Beside his family he is also sportive and can often be found on the tennis or padelcourt. Social, sometimes stubborn and thinking in solutions, not in problems, that is how you can describe him.

Together with his 2 sons and his wife, Peter lives in Noordwijk. In his spare time he likes to do sports such as football, running and cycling. Important qualities for Peter are integrity, reliability, focus on customers, do what you say and constantly looking for improvements.

 Let’s start at the beginning, how did you start at Flowex?

Marcel: “Peter and I already knew each other from our previous job at Heembloemex. When Peter started at Flowex I followed him a year later. When we came to Flowex it was a small company of 4 people and a small number of customers. There was a huge opportunity for growth, that growth is now visible in our number of customers. We have grown into a million dollar company that supplies flowers to 24 countries and I’m very proud of this achievement.”

Peter: “After working in the flower export business for about 16 years I started at Flowex in 2011. The first year I really had to adjust. Flowex (part of the Flowersexpress group) was started in 2002 by founders Peter van der Eijk and Paolo Santacroce. Flowex had a successful start but due to the crisis in 2008 there was a great loss of turnover. In the beginning I visited customers, particularly in France, twice a week with a box of flowers in my arms to show them our product. It was really old-fashioned pioneering but that also made it fun to do.”

“When also Marcel joined Flowex we had more manpower to serve other markets as well. As a result big steps were taken in the following years and Flowex started to grow again.”

In 2016 Marcel and Peter became co-shareholders and in the recent years, both Flowex and the Flowersexpress group have grown fast. This result is partly because of a good product, made possible by our network of more than 80 different top growers especially in South America, and an excellent team of highly motivated and experienced people.

 “I assume this growth will also bring many new challenges. What is the biggest challenge for you within your work/company?”

Peter: “ For me the biggest challenge within Flowex is to bring Flowex to the next level every time in terms of professionalism. Quality, assortment and reliability must be our top priority. I also think it’s very important that we function well as a team and that everyone enjoys their work. Import can be quite challenging because we often have to deal with delays for example. For us it’s important that customers don’t notice what it takes to get the product to the right place in time.”

Marcel: “To ‘get it done’ that is for me the biggest challenge. Within our work we have to deal with many different countries and therefore different time zones. It can be challenging to structure everything well so everything comes in at the right time. Working at Flowex is not a 9 to 5 but rather a 24 hours job. When we process the orders at the office, the entire process of purchasing, transport till/until delivery to the costumers begins.”

“If you had to describe Flowex as a company, what does Flowex stand for to you?”

Marcel: “Reliability! We honor our commitments. Our customers find it normal that everything is done correctly. This already shows how we have built up this reliability over the years. If something does go wrong we will inform our customer directly and solve it in a correct way. Flowex also represents a hard-working company that has experienced tremendous growth. The motivation and involvement of the team is characteristic of Flowex. I’m very proud of the Flowex team and we show this by giving them space and freedom. This confidence, good motivation and hard-work reflect on the results.”

Peter: “Flowex stands for quality, reliability, service and a highly motivated team. Anyone can import flowers themselves but that also brings a lot of challenges. We as Flowex and Flowersexpress group, with our own, strong office in Ecuador, can perfectly unburden our customers in this.”

“My last question to you is how do you see the future of Flowex, what do you want to achieve?”

Peter: “I’m very positive about the future of Flowex! Despite the changing market conditions (expensive dollar, rising transport costs, inflation) and prospects I’m convinced that we will find a positive way in this and take Flowex to an even higher level. Thanks to our network of very reliable growers, especially in South America, we have a wide range that will only increase in demand in the coming years. Especially given the developments in production in the Netherlands.”

Marcel: “We look positively to the future despite a number of negative factors we have to deal with. High fuel prices and inflation have a major impact on us. The challenge here is to stay positive and implementing this in a correct manner. Making a profit will be difficult but with hard work we try to turn this negative into positive again. A long-term approach is also very important to us. Maintaining our contact with customers and suppliers therefore remains top priority for us.