From left: Matt Roth, Mary Waugh and Vann Underhill [Photo: Brook Pifer]
Matt Roth • The Magnolia Co. • President / Volusia County
One of the most basic questions in customer service — what else can we do for you? — led Matt Roth into a new business and, eventually, to seeing his product displayed at the White House for Christmas.
Working as a sales manager in his in-laws’ business selling ferns and other greenery used in floral arrangements, Roth one day asked a wholesale customer in Canada what else the company could do for her. Her request for magnolia cuttings led to the creation of The Magnolia Co., founded in 2001 and owned by Roth’s in-laws, Frank and Jean Underhill.
The Magnolia Co. sells wreaths, garlands and décor. Roughly 60% of sales come through gift and garden stores. The rest comes through Williams-Sonoma and other catalogs, wholesalers, sales to resorts and hotels and the company website. Corporate gifts are a big revenue driver. The company’s wreaths have been in Southern Living and other lifestyle magazines and have been displayed at the U.S. Botanic Garden and, last year, at the White House.
Wreaths in the most popular sizes run $75 to $165. The gift business now includes Seeds of Life — trees for births and other special occasions — along with 14 college team-themed wreaths made under license. There are even collegiate-licensed trees grown from tree material gathered from the University of Florida, Florida State University, University of Alabama and Louisiana State University campuses. “We continue to push that gift market in new directions,” Roth says. Revenue this year will reach $2 million.
The Underhills also still have their 74-year-old fernery, managed by son Frank, and an estate tree business, managed by son Vann. Daughter Mary Waugh has been a product design expert through the years.
“We’re really fortunate to have committed people dedicated to their work,” Roth says. “It’s definitely a family business.”