Columbia-owned companies look to expand – NBC Connecticut

Columbia-owned companies look to expand – NBC Connecticut

Guillermo Herrera was born in Colombia in 1964, and his family owned three flower farms in the country.

“My father and a group of 7 other friends were pioneers of cut flowers in Colombia,” Herrera said.

As a young adult, Guillermo traveled to the United States to attend college, where he met his wife, Marcia. After the marriage, the couple returned to Colombia to run the family business. Marcia took care of marketing and Guillermo oversaw the farm.

It’s been good, it’s been exciting work, it’s stressful, but we have a lot of good projects that we’ve done together,” said Marcia Herrera.

“We had approximately 350 employees and did it for 6 years and then decided to venture here in the US to the Hartford area to sell products from our farm directly to wholesalers,” Guillermo said.

The couple created Bella Rosa International in 1996, a flower importing company, now headquartered in Bloomfield. They kept buying produce from the farm they owned in Colombia.

“We sold that farm, but we’re still very attached to the entire floral community there,” Guillermo said.

As a minority-owned business in the region, Guillermo says they faced many challenges during their first few years.

“I had to go door to door sellers to wholesalers, and explain to people what we were doing. Who we are, I would say the first five years were very difficult. I almost gave up,” Guillermo said.

Over the past two decades, the company has managed to thrive. Guillermo said they sold first to wholesalers and then to local supermarkets. But then came the Covid-19 pandemic, and like many companies, the industry was hit hard.

“At one time we had 35 employees and now we only have 8,” Guillermo said.

Thanks to the community’s support, Guillermo says, their doors have been able to stay open. Now with the company celebrating over 25 years in business, it is looking to expand.

The couple is launching The Floral Club, individuals or private companies can sign up for membership and access the company’s facilities, amenities, and resources, including transportation.

“So, we have the infrastructure that anyone needs to grow their flower business. So, we have the flowers coming from the farms, we have skilled labor, and those employees have been with us from 15 to 18 years, they have been with us, so they know the details and the design very well,” Guillermo said. .

The company will also offer design workshops. The concept is similar to the events of “Paint Night”. People can sign up for a lesson and create their own package. Each session will be led by a florist.

“Flowers make people happy and that’s something I can do, and I love the opportunity to come here and help out in the classroom and teach people what someone taught me,” said floral designer, Debra Hare.

Guillermo says they also want to give back to the local community. Once a month, people can sign up for a charity class, where the pieces created will be donated to a local nursing home.

“I know over the years that getting to a nursing home this time of year, fall, winter, holiday, Christmas, Thanksgiving, is usually difficult, anxious, depressed in a lot of these homes and just to put a smile on someone’s face,” he said. Floral designer Tammy Meyer.

“We continue to look for different ways to delight the floral industry. I feel a moral responsibility to our employees over the years, as I told you before we have been through very difficult times and I really hope this floral club thrives so that these people can continue with us,” said Guillermo Herrera. .

The Floral Club will launch in October. All members will get a 2-month free trial. You can click over here On the first of the month for more information.

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