STODELS CELEBRATE 50 YEARS
August 2012 marks the 50th birthday of the Cape’s biggest garden centre group, where service, quality and great prices remain the cornerstone of their success.
From humble beginnings, Stodels Garden Centres have developed into a household name in gardening in the Western Cape. From the outset, Stodels Garden Centres focused on providing their customers with excellent service, top quality products and affordable prices. Fifty years later, the trio of service, quality and affordability has built a respected and much loved brand.
Originating from a mail order catalogue and door to door sales, the Stodels brand has grown to its current complement of five award-winning garden centres today. The company was started by Mr Robert Stodel, in August 1962, when he started selling flower bulbs door to door and from the Parade in Cape Town. A mail order bulb catalogue soon followed and within a few years, Stodels Flower Bulbs became the biggest flower bulb retailer in South Africa, posting nearly 600 000 bulb catalogues to Cape households and importing up to 20 million bulbs from Holland every year.
The first Stodels Garden Centre opened in Kenilworth in 1968, followed by Stodels Bellville (where the company’s Head Office is still situated today) in 1973. The next few years were spent consolidating the Stodels brand and focusing on delivering the best service and quality, and the lowest prices possible. In 2005 the company expanded again when Stodels Milnerton opened in Racecourse Road, opposite the Paddocks Centre. The Milnerton Garden Centre was a huge success and warmly welcomed by the surrounding community.
In 2006 Nick Stodel took over the reins from his father, Robert, as Managing Director of Stodels Garden Centres. Under Nick’s guidance the three garden centres blossomed and his leadership and ambition were soon recognised when he was appointed as President of the South African Nursery Association in May 2010. A further accolade followed in September 2011 when Nick was elected as President of the International Garden Centre Association (IGCA), becoming the first IGCA President from the African continent and the Southern Hemisphere.
Excellent customer service has been central to the success of Stodels Garden Centres since the establishment of the company 50 years ago. “We work hard to make sure that we give our customers great service. We believe that a smile and a greeting isn’t hard for any staff member to give, and allows our customers to have a great experience when visiting. I think that our mission statement says it all – ‘To delight our customers by giving them affordable access to great gardening ideas and service’,” says Nick.
It was a busy start to 2012 for Stodels Garden Centres as the fourth garden centre opened on Doordrift Road in Constantia in March 2012. Thanks to the hard work and considerable team effort from the Stodels team, the Constantia Garden Centre was soon well established in the surrounding gardening community and the e-mails and phone calls congratulating the Stodels team on their new garden centre soon streamed in.
May 2012 marked the annual Garden Centre Awards, where Stodels Garden Centres received an early birthday present in the form of the award for Best Garden Centre in the Western Cape (Stodels Milnerton), as well as Platinum grading for the Milnerton and Bellville Garden Centre and a Gold grading for the Kenilworth Garden Centre. The Milnerton Garden Centre also received the departmental award for “Best Garden Care” section, while Stodels Bellville earned third place nationwide for “Best Staff”.
“I am immensely proud of the Stodels teams at all our garden centres for the great service they provide and the wonderful displays they create to inspire our customers. We work very hard to bring prices down on plants because we believe that plants should be accessible to everybody who wants a beautiful garden. Each category of gardening products has a really well priced product in it, allowing those who want to garden to be able to afford it. This is central to our promise to customers of offering ‘Big smiles, small prices’,” says Nick.
August 2012 marks the opening of the fifth Stodels Garden Centre opposite Somerset Mall. “I am very excited about the opportunity to serve the gardening community in this area and look forward to interacting with customers at our new Somerset West Garden Centre. The thing that excites me most about being at the helm of Stodels is the relationship that we have with our customers. I often get e-mails, phone calls or even posts on Facebook from customers who are anxious to share their experiences with us and when we do surveys, we are overwhelmed by the feedback we receive. Without this strong relationship with our customers, I believe Stodels would not be what it is today,” says Nick.