$107 million a year in tropical plant biz—and sales are growing!

Initial Tropical Plants is the leading provider of interior landscaping, design installation and enhancing the customer's brand image while improving the quality of life in the workplace. The company is changing the landscape of business interiors across North America.

Initial Tropical Plants’ roots stem back to 1963 when Gerry Leider, a young Chicago entrepreneur, launched Tropical Plant Rentals. In 1975, Tropical Plant Rentals began their expansion into a dozen other markets, becoming the leader in the emerging interiorscape industry. In 1989, Tropical Plants Rentals was sold to Rentokil Initial plc, the largest service based organization in the UK. At the time of this acquisition, Tropical Plants Rentals had achieved annual billings of over $40M. The company was renamed Rentokil Tropical Plants Services in 1988 and to its current name Initial Tropical Plants in 2003. With the acquisition of TruGreen in 2000, Initial Tropical Plants secured footprints in nearly every major North American market.

Today, Initial Tropical Plants (ITP), headquartered in Riverwoods, Illinois, is the largest provider of interior landscaping, design installation and maintenance services in North America.

Initial Tropical Plants’ employees personify professionalism, integrity, reliability and responsiveness. The average tenure of the Initial Tropical Plants executive management team exceeds two decades resulting in consistent, outstanding service delivery, client loyalty and satisfaction.

“Everyone. Every day. Each Customer” is an Initial Tropical Plants mandate that underlines the importance of customer satisfaction in a business where people and plants are brought together. “For all of Initial’s plant knowledge, skillful designs, excellent training, and a spirit of family, our reputation ultimately hinges on stories about our service,” says Jeff Mariola, president, Initial Tropical Plants. The company calls it their “fabled service.” “Our fabled service originates with our people who are imbued with a sense of ownership in all they do. Every co-worker—all service and support teams, leaders, concierge, sales representatives, branch and senior management—are responsible for identifying opportunities to personalize our service. Co-workers are encouraged to surpass customers’ standard expectations through genuine consideration and inventive problem-solving and personalized solutions,” said Mariola.

Initial Tropical Plants utilizes the latest technology to benefit customers. Tapping into CAD and photo imaging capabilities, ITP can demonstrate how a facility will look after the ITP crew has done their magic. ITP’s National Help Desk, available 24/7, is trained to handle any problem in any location within a matter of hours.

Interior landscaping has become increasingly popular during the last 30 years. Most architects now include plants in their design specification for new shopping centers, office complexes and other public areas, and they are something we all expect to see when we walk through the door. But what is it about plants that make them such an important building accessory?

The most obvious answer is that they look attractive—who can fail to be charmed by the graceful arch of palm leaves or the exotic beauty of orchids? However, recent research has shown that the value of plants goes far beyond the purely aesthetic. Plants are actually good for the building and its occupants in a number of subtle ways and are an important element in providing a pleasant, tranquil environment where people can work or relax.

The following factoids on the power of interior plants were pruned from the plants-in-buildings.com website:

• Interior Plants = Reduced Worker Absenteeism—There is evidence to show that putting plants in buildings can significantly reduce absence from work. It isn’t necessary to fill every available space with a plant to achieve this; just a few good-quality specimens located near to where people work and take their rest breaks seem to suffice. The reasons why this has a beneficial effect are probably a subtle but complex mixture of the physiological (improved humidity, reduced noise etc.) and psychological.

• Plants Improve the Indoor Environ-ment—There is general agreement within the scientific community that plants improve the indoor environment, and are useful weapons in the fight against the modern phenomenon known as sick building syndrome (SBS). No specific cause of SBS has been identified, but poor air quality, excessive background noise and inadequate temperature and light control are thought to be important factors. Because plants have a large surface area and exchange water and gases with their surroundings, they have a unique ability to tackle many environmental problems. In particular, plants can:

Reduce levels of carbon dioxide, which can accumulate in buildings from the breathing of its occupants and the by-products of heating systems and electrical equipment.

Increase relative humidity, which should be between 40% and 60% RH for maximum human comfort.

• Interior Plants Offset Cubicle Chatter—With office cubicles the norm these days, employees have a tough time focusing due to extraneous office noise. Interior plants help reduce distractions due to office noise.

• Plants in Retail = “Petal” to the Register?—“Retailers have long understood the importance of store environment in enhancing the shopping experience. The outdoor landscape can be a seamless extension of shop interiors, providing indoor/outdoor continuity for a positive shopping experience. Urban forestry can play an important role in business districts. Interior plants and landscape may create store interiors more favorable for retail activity.”

• Plants Roll Out The Welcome Mat—A postgraduate study carried out in a London ho****al in 1995 provided clear evidence that people do react more favorably to a building when it contains plants than when it does not. Ho****al visitors were asked to respond to a descriptive choice test using 20 pairs of bipolar adjectives (quiet vs. noisy, cheerful vs. gloomy, etc.). The results showed that when plants were present in the reception area of the ho****al, users perceived it to be:

17% more interesting
17% more cheerful
16% more welcoming
15% more relaxing
11% less stressful
11% more expensive
11% tidier
8% quieter
There were no negative findings and all the results were independently verified as being statistically significant. (Ref: “Human Responses to Interior Planting,” J.V. Stiles, PhD, Oxford Brookes University, 1995).

• Plants as Couture—Interior landscaping is becoming a fashion-driven business, where as much effort is now put into the design of the containers, accessories and overall “look” as into plant selection. The current trend is for minimal, clean-looking containers and strongly shaped architectural plants. Tall, tapered containers in galvanized steel or aluminum and the “stone” look are particularly popular. Simplicity is the key—underplanting and the jungle effect are definitely out!

• Plants as Educators—Bringing a little of nature indoors, especially in urban areas where people may not have had much exposure to plant life can be both stimulating and educational. Where else, other than the tropical plant houses of botanical gardens, will you see the variety of exotic and unusual plant species usually on display in shopping centers and large office atria?

• Plants as Cultural Ambassadors—In the multinational world of commerce, every country has businesses, whether banks, hotels, manufacturing facilities or airlines, from every corner of the globe.

• Plants as Signposts—In many buildings there is a need to channel pedestrian traffic towards significant landmarks, such as exits, check-in desks, escalators and common passageways. This is particularly important in premises with large, open areas such as those found in airports, shopping malls, ho****als and many large offices. Plants offer an attractive and practical solution, providing a living barrier that gently guides people to where you want them to go.
Choosing the right plants and containers for this purpose is very important. Spiky plants or those with sharp-edged leaves would clearly be inappropriate in an area designed for heavy pedestrian traffic flow.

• Plants as Security Barriers—In our post 9/11 world, businesses want to be secure without looking menacing. There’s a growing trend to adopting “security barriers planters” —i.e., hardcore concrete barriers that are filled up with plants—that act as effective and tranquil security.

Taken from WEB