Our Story: Transcending the Traditional Time After Time
By taking advantage of technology, innovative operations approach, strong partnerships built over a long time in this industry, and good old fashioned hard work, Mellano and Company is striving to be a cut above many of its competitors for you.
Humble Beginnings and the Meaning of Family
Now a leading cut flower grower, shipper and wholesaler, Mellano and Company had modest beginnings. Giovanni Mellano set up shop in 1925 as a wholesale distributor in Los Angeles. He soon expanded his business by purchasing six acres in the Los Angeles area and began growing his own flowers. Mellano and Company has been plowing ahead in floriculture ever since.
Mellano and Company is headquartered in its Los Angeles Flower Market location where Giovanni first began. The growing operation was relocated in 1970 to sunny San Diego County in the San Luis Rey Valley. Today the farm is the heart of the operation, farming over 375 acres under the watchful eyes of Giovanni’s children and grandchildren.
Now in its third generation, Mellano and Company has redefined its concept of family to include both employees and customers. This “extended family” has played a major role in Mellano and Company’s success story as we continue to expand not only our Los Angeles wholesale location, but also locations in Carlsbad and Las Vegas, NV. “A big reason for our success is that we are well diversified,” Giovanni’s grandson Bob Mellano says. His brothers Mike and Jim agree. “We strive to stay technologically advanced, vertically integrated and not afraid to make a crop-mix change. All of this adds to our success and the success of our customers.”
Mellano and Company prides itself on its progressive ideas, many of which have been developed into industry-wide improvements in growing and logistics.
Innovations – Past. Present. Future.
Mellano and Company was one of the first to:
- Develop a comprehensive cold chain management program.
- Implement integrated pest management and scouting.
- Utilize irrigation systems to minimize runoff and water flow.
- Utilize a pre-cooling system allowing flowers to be shipped at their optimal freshness.
- Recognize and develop the use of smaller boxes for packaging flowers, resulting in improved quality control and handling.
In the 21st century, Mellano and Company continues to successfully incorporate new technologies that are light years away from the founding days of Giovanni Mellano. The company has installed an electronic labor tracking system that easily calculates productivity and allocation of labor and supplies in specific areas. “This system has been very important in developing our crops and improving profitability. It has allowed us to keep labor costs under control in the face of skyrocketing expenses,” President Michael M. Mellano says. (Plus, it is really cool!)
The growing possibilities of technology and social networking is something Mellano and Company believes is vital to our present and future relationships with customers and the industry as a whole. Have you liked Mellano and Company on Facebook yet?
Strength In Numbers
An important industry partnership for Mellano and Company is its in-depth involvement in industry groups such as the California Cut Flower Commission and the Society of American Florists. “You get out of the industry what you put into it,” Michelle Castellano says. “The stronger we can make the California industry and the industry as a whole, the stronger our company is.”
In addition to relying on its own experience to expand the business, Mellano and Company works very closely with the University of California and other universities around the United States in a multitude of projects. “Sometimes we bring a project idea to the table but often, researchers need a cooperator to help them put the pieces of a puzzle together, and we are glad to help,” Michael Anthony says. “We learn, they learn, and the whole industry benefits.”
One of the most important projects Mellano and Company is currently working on is finding an alternative for the impending loss of methyl bromide. Michael Anthony is part of the research committee who, with many other growers and researchers are not only looking for alternatives, but also looking at new cropping schemes to help minimize the impact of the loss. At the same time, Michelle Castellano’s lobbying efforts in Washington D.C. and abroad has helped educate decision-makers and put an industry face to this critical issue.
Working together is nothing new to Mellano and Company. Truly a family business, Mellano and Company currently has six third generation family members responsible for the day-to-day operations. Working at a family business can be both challenging and rewarding. “Whatever struggles our business faces,” Bob says, “we always end up working our way through it and moving forward as a family.”