Westerlay Orchids Taps Dutch Roots to Grow the Finest Flowers on the Pacific Coast
The team at Westerlay Orchids has a simple mission: to grow the most stunning and highest quality orchids.
Westerlay’s path to producing some of the finest orchids available stretches back generations of horticulturists to the greenhouses of Holland. Company founder Joop “Joe” Overgaag had been a greenhouse farmer in the Netherlands before immigrating to Carpinteria, California (along with his wife and four children) in 1978. Joop built his first greenhouses by hand, salvaging oil pipes from the local industry for the frames, and would soon open Westerlay Roses, named after the Westerlee vegetable auction in Holland. The sweat equity paid off and Westerlay Roses soon found a foothold in the domestic rose market.
Current company Owner and President Toine Overgaag, Joop’s son, says, “My dad was this dedicated hands-on and down-to-earth guy. He was always open to adaptation and cared so much for the people he worked with and the product he made.”
Fast forward 20 years and Westerlay Roses had grown to 800,000 square feet on several coastal Santa Barbara properties. The brand was synonymous with the most vibrantly colored flowers on the rose market and distributed millions of cut flowers annually for weddings and table settings all over the country. Joop recalls Midwest rose merchants in the 1990s demanding his Cardinal Roses, a brilliant red variety unique to the domestic market, but he couldn’t fill the orders quickly enough to take on new customers.
Still, a growing headwind against the domestic rose market imposed by increasing international competition was forming. Toine, after earning his Master’s Degree in business administration and having worked in business consulting, rejoined the Westerlay team, and together with Joop, formed a plan. Something had to change. They studied everything orchid and forged ahead with a five-year transition into orchids culminating in their first crop of cymbidiums in 2003. Westerlay Roses became Westerlay Orchids.
In 2009, Joop handed the reins of the company to Toine and a second generation began to leave it’s mark. Westerlay grew, eventually doubling in size to 21 acres and producing over 2 million orchids a year. Through it all, the tradition of the company continues, constantly refining their sustainable growing practices to ensure the highest of quality orchids are produced. The company has recently completed initiatives to recapture and reuse irrigation water. It continues to build relationships with markets large and small all over the Western U.S. It strives to create the best working environment and to empower over 100 proud team members.
In his Dutch accent, Joop says, “I couldn’t have done it, run a company like Toine does today. He makes me so proud when I visit, to see how he has brought us to a new place and to see the smiles on everyone’s faces.”
The CA Grown Experience on uBloom Visits Westerlay Orchids from JSchwankeon Vimeo.
The CA Grown Experience on uBloom is a Documentary series about the Flower Farmers and Sellers in the State of California.
We hope you enjoy seeing where your flowers come from and the passion for which they are grown in the State of California
Produced by J Schwanke,Chris Randall, Keith Golinski and Kelly Blank