A little word about myself
I’m Michael Simpson, the founder of Mail Order Trees, and I’ve created this page to share a little bit of my background with you and the story and how Mail Order Trees came about.
How we started out
The nursery lies in a little village called Fordham, which is in between Ely and Newmarket in Cambridgeshire. You may be familiar with the historic town of Newmarket which is synonymous with horse racing. As you can see from the photo above, we are in a very close proximity to the race course.
Their focus was on growing as much stock themselves as possible to ensure that the products were of the highest quality; from that the business earned a great reputation locally which allowed them to gradually expand. From as early as I can remember I was out on the tree lines with my dad watching him skilfully prune trees and plants, as you can see from the photo I even had a go myself!
Growing up, I helped out my parents on the nursery and on the fields and gradually picked up skills and knowledge along the way. After finishing school, I went to college to study horticulture and did four courses over four years, I also carried on working for the nursery around studying. My parents traded as a local garden centre and also supplied other retailers with products at a wholesale price.One day I looked online at one of the retailers that we had supplied trees to and was shocked at the prices. The trees that we had sent to them just weeks before were being sold for more than ten times the sum of what we had supplied them for! I couldn’t believe that people sold trees online at such inflated prices. I did more research and spotted a real gap in the market; quality trees sold at a reasonable price. I started listing trees on ebay and my overwhelmingly positive feedback on there proved that people were sick of being ripped off by online stockists. After my success on ebay, I decided to look into creating my own website and in 2007 Mail Order Trees was born.
Mail Order Trees
After launching the website, I was really surprised to find that people started buying from us straight away. I couldn’t quite believe that my idea of setting up a website had actually become a reality. It was also quite surreal that people that I had never met parted with their money despite us being a relatively unknown business. I felt the need to reward people’s trust by delivering the goods as quickly as possible and ensuring that every item sent was of the highest quality. With business growing, I employed my friend Steve and my younger brother Nick and the three of us worked together to provide a fast and reliable service. After a short time, we outgrew our old working space (which was actually a large shed on the nursery) and invested in building a barn and an office to house our growing venture.
We have had an ‘eco ethos’ from the start and only use degradable packaging and use recycled materials wherever possible. We were even able to build a system that harvests the rainwater so we can use that to keep the trees happy. The increase in business also allowed us to expand our land to grow more trees, we needed to keep the supply up with the demand and still ensure that the high standards were still met. The fields that surround our business are filled with our home-grown trees which we lovingly care for and prune. The majority of our stock is home-grown and I personally collect over 90% of the trees by hand and prepare them for each order.
Over the last 8 years our business has continued to grow and we even won a ‘Grower of the year’ award in 2011. As you may be able to see from the picture, we are all pretty young and our competitors were astounded to learn that the average age of our employees at Mail Order Trees was just 20, with myself being the oldest at the time at age 23. Gradually we have built up a wonderful client base and pride ourselves in sending out the highest quality goods at affordable prices.
Future plans for Mail Order Trees
We really hope that our success continues and that we are able to continue to grow. We currently have around 2000 products on the website and we plan on increasing this gradually. We add new products to the website all the time and we want to keep this as a gradual process to ensure that we gain adequate knowledge on each item. The nursery has around 5000 products so we know we have a long way to go!
The nursery has also managed to grow alongside Mail Order Trees, we opened our coffee shop in 2009 and that has turned out to be a great hit with visitors to the garden centre. The nursery employs over 30 local people and we are at the heart of the community as people utilise the coffee shop for meeting friends and clients. One of the things we are currently working on is our use of peat in compost, this natural resource is over-used and we are trialling different composts to reduce our use. We also have plans to open a farm shop on site in the long term, but for now we are concentrating on existing ventures.