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This article was prepared for the
December 11, 2002 edition of U.S. 1 Newspaper. All rights reserved.
Look for the work of Alan Brody in the atrium
of Computer Associates on Orchard Road. You will see a poinsettia
with more than five dozen plants. Or notice his five-foot poinsettia
trees at Drinker Biddle on College Road or the indoor plantings at
New Jersey Manufacturers insurance.
Brody’s 12-year-old Hamilton Square company, Interior Plants, does
interior plant design and maintenance for offices and businesses.
He started out part-time and now has four employees.
Brody’s first big client came from his success with "used"
poinsettias. "At one of my first accounts I had put in 20
for the holiday season, and when I took them out they looked twice
as big and beautiful, so I donated them to volunteer services at
Wood Johnson University Hospital at Hamilton." Pretty soon he
was signed on to be the plant provider there, and he worked with the
art and furniture designers on the new cancer and health center.
Good poinsettias, like the ones he gets from his own grower, are going
to sell for about $8.50 for a six-inch table top pot or $20 for 7
1/2 inch pot. A 20-inch pot with lots of plants costs $120. He offers
this poinsettia advice for businesses that want to do their own
for the holiday season:
it won’t get bumped, not in a high traffic area, because it is fragile
and breaks easily. Provide a "good amount" of light, but the
light shouldn’t be very bright.
water. "Water any plant with respect to how much light it is
says Brody. "If it is near a heater, it will need more water.
If it is very dry, give it a little at a time and let it soak through.
Then give it a little more. Poinsettia soil will soak up water."
might go into shock and die within two days of delivery. "They
hate cold weather," says Brody. "If it is 20 degrees outside,
and you carry one naked from the car to the door, there is a very
good chance it will die. Keep it sleeved. Don’t leave it outside.
Don’t let it sit in the car. Keep the heat on in the car."
University with a degree in journalism and a minor in art. He had
a federal purchasing job in Philadelphia. When he got married, had
a baby, and moved to Hamilton, he needed extra money and started his
business part-time with a few accounts.
"I got good feedback from my clients and saw the potential, but
everyone was trying to talk me out of doing it. `Make a living on
$50 a month?’ they said. But if you have 100 accounts, that’s $5,000
Brody says that his business doubled this year as a result of his
making a five-year plan, instigated by counseling sessions with Ray
Oren, a counselor with SCORE (Service Corps of Retired Executives
Association) at the Princeton Chamber. In three free counseling
Brody learned how to structure his business to protect himself against
liability claims, and how to delegate so he had more time for
Brody’s entrepreneurial education also included a small business
given by the Rotary and one at Mercer County Community College. He
belongs to the Princeton Chamber as well as to a networking group,
Competition? Very large plant-care companies or designers that prefer
to decorate with artwork or fake plants. He tells of one bidding on
a large account where his competition had let plants get infested
with disease. Big tubs had holes where dead plants had been taken
out. "I refused to take the account unless they let me replace
everything. `Don’t throw good money after bad,’ I told them. `Once
I do the change, I am responsible, but I can’t make your plants look
any better than they look now.’"
Square 08690. 609-890-9304.
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