Speedling – Changing the transplant world for 50 years
FFVA trade associate member Speedling Inc. is a nationwide transplant company that began life in 1968 in the Ruskin area of Florida’s Hillsborough County. That was when farmers George Todd and Bud Leisey invented a new way to grow and transplant seedlings that continues to innovate.
Jay Fraleigh, Speedling’s national sales manager for its vegetable division, explains: “Speedling is recognized for the proprietary Styrofoam tray and for how it invented the inverted triangle floating tray for growing the plants on a floating bed of water as opposed to conventional T-rails,” he said. The technology was invented to develop a more vigorous root system, more consistency, better consistency on top growth and overall improved growing quality from the typical systems used in greenhouse growing. It was proprietary to Speedling for many years.
Speedling’s locations in Florida, Georgia, Texas and California have grown countless vegetable seedlings over the years as well as ornamental plants. Most are grown on a contract system with producers.
“Typically, the farmer comes to us with their seed and field planting schedule. From there, we germinate and grow their plants to their specifications. For example, one of our larger customers gives us celery seed they use in their varieties along with a grow-and-harvest plan,” Fraleigh said. “We coordinate with the farmer. They will give us the seed, and we germinate so they will have transplants that are ready to go in the field on the date that they need them.” A tremendous amount of scheduling and precision are involved. “That’s probably one of the key elements of us being successful and being in it so long. We’ve gotten very, very good at receiving the seed and having the plants ready and available when the customer needs them.”
Communication also is key. “We’re in constant contact with the farmer, so our added value is the relationship we form with our customers from start to finish. We understand their expectations and we make sure things happen in a timely manner so they can be successful,” he added.
In addition to celery, the company grows many commodities for large and small farming operations, from artichoke to zucchini. “Processed tomato is a large part of our business on the West Coast, and watermelon and pepper predominate on the East Coast,” he said.
Fraleigh is proud of his sales professionals and their dedication and knowledge. “We have regional sales reps in the field who are very well-versed in the farmers’ needs, so when problems arise we go to the field and help work on solutions,” he said. “Speedling is customer-driven from the time the order’s received all the way to finished product in the field. We strive to keep that hands-on approach from start to finish,” he said.
Customers aren’t the only focus of Speedling’s attention. The company values and recognizes its employees as well. Management recognizes long-term employees as well as those who go above and beyond what is expected of them, and the result is a loyal staff, Fraleigh said. Many employees have worked there for decades. “We’re progressive and embrace technology to provide a working environment that keeps us on the cutting edge,” he said.
Visit the company’s newly re-designed website at speedling.com to learn more about its technology and how it has helped growers develop strong, vigorous plants since the 1960s. Or contact Fraleigh in Ruskin at 850-464-9906.