The Westerlay Story
Joop and Lucy with Westerlay Roses
Building a strong foundation
Toine and Kandie with Westerlay Orchids
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.
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 with his father Joop, and together, they formed a more sustainable 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 was then reestablished as Westerlay Orchids.
In 2009, Joop handed the reins of the company to Toine and the next generation began to leave it’s mark. Westerlay has grown, eventually doubling our size to 21 acres and producing over 3.5 million orchids annually. Through it all, the tradition of the company continues, constantly refining our sustainable growing practices to ensure the highest of quality orchids are produced. Westerlay has recently completed initiatives to recapture and reuse irrigation water, and we continue to build relationships with markets large and small all over the Western U.S. and Canada.
“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."
~ Toine Overgaag
President, Westerlay Orchids
Westerlay is embarking on the next wave of progress as the Overgaag visionaries look toward the future. With the addition of new greenhouse space in Carpinteria, the total production will increase from 3.2 to 4 million orchids by the end of 2021. A second and more comprehensive phase of expansion is scheduled for 2025 as Westerlay develops a new parcel of land in Port Hueneme set to be the future main production facility. This new location will allow Westerlay to nearly double current production to 6 million orchids within a couple years of opening and help work toward our 7 year goal of being the most recognizable name brands in house plants on the West Coast.
On the digital front, Westerlay Orchids recently launched their first direct to consumer ecommerce website. This introduction marks the first time in Westerlay Orchids' 45 year history where customers can purchase orchids directly from the greenhouse, shipping to any home or business in the Western US. As we continue to progress in the post-pandemic age, direct access to goods and services from the comfort and safety of our customers' establishments is paramount. Our orchids are widley available at major grocers across the country and online. We firmly believe that every orchid has a story. This is ours, now what's yours?
"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.”
~ Joop (Joe) Overgaag
Founder, Westerlay Roses
Leveraging tradition, innovation & intention
Westerlay Orchids augments its heritage with technology, sustainability and deliberate goals. Continue reading our story on Greenhouse Management Magazine.Read More