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Dutch firm Jan Spek Rozen celebrating 125 years in the rose business in 2015

In the ever-changing, unstable world of the floral industry, a company that is planning its 125th anniversary in 2015 is a bit of an anomaly. Jan Spek Rozen, a family rose business in the Netherlands founded in 1890 by Jan Spek, and one of the older rose companies in the world, is such a rarity.

Although Spek also grew azaleas, rhododendron and other ornamental shrubs, roses have always been of utmost importance. In 1913, Jan Spek received one of a European flower exhibition’s highest awards, the gold medal, for a group of new rose varieties introduced between the years 1909 and 1912, according to the company website.

Beginning in the 1960s, Spek started growing new varieties of roses in greenhouses for the cut flower market. Innovative breeding of roses for better color, better flower production and longer vase life earned Spek the reputation with other breeders as a leading authority in the rose business.

Now managed by Jan’s great-grandson, Erik Spek, Jan Spek Rozen is a fast-growing breeder of greenhouse roses and is also a key supplier of garden roses to Western Europe. Erik Spek and Sjenn Kragtwijk, sales manager, frequently travel the globe to visit key growing areas and markets on five continents, keeping their fingers on the pulse of the international rose industry.

“We have test facilities in Ecuador, Colombia, Kenya and Ethiopia,” said Spek. “We go there often to select our varieties. We also visit growers and attend shows in Japan and Korea, and sometimes China and India,” Spek said.

To celebrate its 125 years in business there will be special promotions, surprises for clients and a memorable anniversary book produced by the company, Spek told The Produce News.

Jan Spek Rozen continues to breed new rose varieties and focus on innovation. Some of the commercial varieties from the company include Hearts, the winner of the Society of American Florists 2013 Outstanding Variety Competition as Best Rose and Best of Show; Tutti Frutti, a yellow and red bicolor; Hallelujah, a red; Mother of Pearl, a vintage pink; and Glory, a deep pink.