Decades ago, professional landscapers warmed to a new technology, the fax machine, to help their businesses run more efficiently by streamlining the process for ordering trees, shrubs and other plants. Cameron Cantrelle says it’s time for landscapers to adapt again.
Cantrelle, who studied ornamental horticulture at Auburn University, started his own landscape design company, Smoketree Landscape, in Madisonville, Louisiana, in 1998. Through the years, he became increasingly frustrated with the antiquated ordering processes that were used to obtain the plants he needed for landscaping projects. The “old” way involved mounds of printed pricing sheets, he recalls.
After making do with the status quo for many years, Cantrelle founded Plantbid, which uses proprietary software to ease and speed up the process landscapers follow to find and buy materials. Instead of spending days searching for plants one at a time and losing money on shipping costs, a landscaper can tap Plantbid’s software to sort through long buying lists while also identifying the best nurseries from which to order.
“When you go to the grocery store, you have a list and you’re not leaving that store until you have that list of items,” Cantrelle told NOLA.com. “That’s also how the industry shops, with a list.”
When Plantbid launched in January 2014, it featured a small group of wholesale growers and suppliers; today, the software features a network of more than 300 nationwide, offering more than 260,000 plant varieties.
Landscapers pay $20 per month to get quotes on plants and see what the high, middle and low prices are in certain regional markets. Buyers who place an order get access to nursery names, inventory search and are able to make bids. Plantbid charges a 2.5 percent fee on the total order when completed.