Once a thriving business in Pasadena, California, by the time Jacob Maarse Florists came to The Profit, it was in trouble. From a worn-down and untended store to the lack of leadership in the organization, Jacob Maarse Florists needed just the kind of help and guidance that host Marcus Lemonis could provide.
In just the second episode of The Profit, Marcus took on the challenge of trying to turn around a family business that had slipped and was about to fall after the death of its owner and founder.
Jacob Maarse was born into a flower-growing family in Aalmeer, Holland, where, as a young boy, he developed a profound respect for the unique sensibility for distinct European design. In 1961, when southern California was a booming and growing community, Jacob Maarse opened a flower shop in trendy Pasadena. The florist thrived from the start, bringing in millions of dollars in business, providing flowers and floral arrangements for huge celebrity events, presidential inaugurations, and even the iconic Rose Bowl Parade.
Following Jacob’s death in 2010, the business was put in the hands of his son and heir, Hank Maarse. Despite continuing to generate millions of dollars in annual business, it started to lose money under Hank’s direction, claiming a loss of $200,000. Hank also owed hundreds of thousands of dollars to the bank and his mother, the Chief Financial Officer of Jacob Maarse Florists.
Jacob Maarse Florists Looks to The Profit
The Profit Season 1 Episode 2
Entrepreneur and The Profit host Marcus Lemonis was looking at the $6.5 billion florist industry, and saw possibilities and potential of returning Jacob Maarse Florists to its former glory. He could have no way of knowing what he was getting into when he went to pay Hank Maarse a visit at the store.
The first thing Marcus noticed was the utter disarray of the store itself. The storefront itself featured cobwebs, burned-out light bulbs, and dirty floors. The florist also sold greeting cards, candles, and other items that only served to confuse the brand for potential customers. One thing he did not see a lot of in this flower shop was actual flowers on display. He spent a good five minutes walking around the store without being approached or even seeing another person.
When Marcus finally found Hank, he was not impressed. The owner of the business could not answer basic questions about which part of his business made the most money and could not say what inventory they had in the warehouse. In walking through the warehouse facility, Marcus discovered inventory that had been there since before Jacob’s death, the order forms all handwritten. The address listed on the van was a facility that closed a decade ago, and there was no phone number. Hank said he did not want the extra business because that would mean he would have to put in more hours on the job.
The delivery service provided by Jacob Maarse Florists had drawn many bad reviews online, so Marcus decided to do a ride-along with the head of the dispatch to see for himself what the issues were and how they could be fixed. The van had no air conditioning, and the driver was still using a map book instead of GPS and admitted he was not sure where he was going. Marcus quickly realized that with just a few, simple tweaks, the delivery service could be vastly improved for the employees and their customers.
Marcus Makes a Deal, Gets to Work
While Hank refused to get a partner to help run the business with him, he did agree to hire someone other than his mother to manage the finances of the business. Marcus met with Hank’s mother and said that her son needed to be responsible for the poor performance of the business and the debt it had accrued.
Marcus offered $100,000 in exchange for 25% of future profits to incentivize him to improve the direction of Jacob Maarse Florists in the week he would be in charge of the business. Hank agreed to the terms, and Marcus went to work.
The first order of business was for Marcus to tell employees that the store would be shutting its doors for one week to make changes and improvements to the store and how the business was run. The two main objectives during the downtime were to remerchandise the store to make it attractive to customers and profitable and to retrain and motivate the employees to give the flower shop the best chance to succeed.
In an effort to declutter the look of the store and give customers a chance to observe floral designers at work, Marcus hired two outside designers to make the store easier to navigate.
Hank was not impressed with the changes Marcus was making and was clearly getting frustrated. Hank did not give much of a response when questioned by Marcus as to whether Hank really wanted to be running this business or if he was doing it simply out of loyalty to late father. Marcus, in turn, was unimpressed with Hank’s business acumen, but could not get him to say that he no longer wanted to do it.
Jacob Maarse Florists Grand Reopening
The week had passed, and the grand reopening of Jacob Maarse Florists was at hand. The employees were excited and passionate about the new look and feel of the store. Customers took note of the changes and were quite complimentary, leading to a 30% increase in sales for the day. Hank, however, was underwhelmed and left the store in the middle of the festivities.
Hank met up with Marcus after the reopening and told him that he did not want to take the deal. He claimed that Marcus had not held up his share of the deal, implying that the improvements and changes Marcus made were not worth the money, or did not total up to $100,000.
Marcus demanded his money back, and Hank exploded right there in the warehouse. It was clear to Marcus that he was not going to get his money back amicably, he would be forced to put a lien on the building in order to recoup his losses.
Jacob Maarse Florists after The Profit
Ultimately, Marcus did not need to put a lien on the building, as Hank paid back the full $150,000 he owed. While Marcus did not exactly get the 25% equity deal originally agreed to, he was able to get his money back, a small victory.
Jacob Maarse Florists is still in business today, and they have an active Facebook page, where customers can place orders. Hank is still listed as being associated with the company; his title is not mentioned.
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