Even though the big growers start cutting in late October for shipments to Mexico, Hawaii, and Asia, trees for California are harvested daily throughout the selling season. Normally trees arrive here no more than 5 or 6 days after they are cut.
Truck-load quantities (700 or so), require only 5 to 7 days lead time. For less than truck-load quantities, the smaller orders need to be consolidated to make up full trucks and that could take up to a month. Cascade Nobles, Silvertips and White fir come from different locations and are sometimes hard to get, so they should be ordered at least 4 to 6 weeks in advance.
There are prearranged delivery dates listed on the website. Those are the most common dates, and it is best to stick with those for small quantities. Delivery of truck-load quantities (700 or so) can be made on almost any date up until mid December.
Online orders automatically generate an acknowledgment that shows the Requested Date. When the order gets scheduled at the farm, a second confirming email goes out from Old Summit, showing the Confirmed Date. Forty-eight hours before the scheduled delivery, a third confirmation goes out, including the Estimated Time, and phone numbers that allow tracking the truck's progress.
Harvesting, bailing and loading is all the responsibility of the supplier.
With normal winter conditions, the temperature inside the truck is stable for the 24 hours or so that the truck is en route. In really warm weather or long distances, trees are loaded on refrigerated trucks or trucks packed with ice. Trees loaded with ice take longer to unload because it makes them heavier, harder to handle and more easily damaged.
The buyer is responsible but Old Summit provides that service at a very attractive price. An experienced 5 man crew (4 unloading, 1 counting) can unload a full 53 foot truck in two hours. Labor contractors or inexperience workers often take twice as long and damage to trees is common. If it takes more than two hours, the freight company will often charge $50 to $100 per hour for every hour the driver has to wait.
"FU" stands for Freight Units. It is used to estimate how many trees will fit on one truck. Notice that a 6-7 foot Noble is exactly one FU and other sizes are scaled to that figure.
All prices on the Old Summit Website are FOB Oregon, meaning that freight is not included. The cost is automatically calculated and added to the order total at the time the order is confirmed on the Website. For a rough estimate of freight cost, multiply the number of trees of each variety and size, times the corresponding number of Freight Units from the price list and multiply by $3.00 to $3.50 per Freight Unit - the cost of diesel fuel is reflected directly in the cost.
The prices of trees, wreaths, and garland are independent of volume, but the delivery cost varies. There is a limit of 250 trees minimum per stop with no drop-charge. For quantities less than 250 but more than 100, the drop-charge amounts to less than a dollar per tree. For quantities of fewer than 100 trees, it is usually more cost effect to have trees delivered to the Old Summit Road yard, where smaller trucks redistribute. Customers and also pick up from the yard (near Los Gatos) to avoid local delivery cost.
This "Source Code" indicates the farm where the trees are grown. Trees having the same Source Code can be loaded on any given truck. Trees with different Source Codes usually come on different trucks and some special handling might be required. There is no additional cost as long as minimum quantities are met.
The industry standard pricing practice is FOB, meaning that advertised prices do not include freight. The Old Summit Website is based on FOB prices and the freight is calculated automatically and added to the total. Some suppliers include a portion of the freight in their price, but watch out for "pricing tricks". A statement like, "FOB Northern California", might mean that trees need to be picked up at a yard in Oakland or Gilroy. The resulting local delivery could cost almost as much as shipping from Oregon.
There is a USDA Standard for grading Christmas trees. It written in such general terms that it is common for growers to not adhere closely to it. A price list offering, "Premiums & #1s" or "Nursery Grade", does not mean you are buying " U.S. Premium" trees. If the supplier is not using the proper product identification and advertising, "Special #1 Grade", instead of " U.S. No 1", that probably translates to a surprise.
Since the USDA Standard is not specific enough to be used as an inspection document, Old Summit has developed its own comprehensive specification that clarifies the intent of that document. In the new specification, the quality criteria are carefully defined and measurable. It contains tolerances, inspection methods, sampling procedures, and limit-sample photos. It even includes printable forms for counting trees, categorizing defects, and procedures for handling defectives. An outline is available and the complete document is available via email once you become a registered user.
The Utl (Utility) grade includes trees that don't meet any of the USDA (or Old Summit) grading standards. They might have holes, be flat on one side or have other defects. "Field" stands for Field-Run which means the purchase of an entire field of trees, regardless of grade and size. Utility and Field-Run trees can be useful for outside displays and other applications where quality can be compromised somewhat for lower prices.
After trees are harvested they go through a string bailer that wraps them up like a cocoon. Untrained workers can make the mistake of tying the end of the string to the top leader instead of to the string loops on the side. As the tree flexes during subsequent handling, the string rubs the needles off. We work closely with our growers to be sure this does not happen.
Some Noble firs are so heavy, it is hard to lift them onto cars. Some even have trunks that don't fit in tree stands. How can this happen?
There has been an industry-wide problem of trees that were held back from year to year and sheared too many times, causing the stumps to get unusually large. The Old Summit quality guarantee does not allow for such trees.
Strictly speaking, a UPC (Universal Product Code) is a number and a bar code that is registered to a specific manufacturer with the regulating authority http://www.gs1us.org/ and is the same, no matter where the product is sold. A product sold at Sears would display the same UPC as it would if it were sold at HomeDepot. An SKU (Stock Keeping Unit) on the other hand is usually a store specific number and is valid only at that store. In some cases, suppliers use legitimate UPC codes but the products they represent are not necessarily registered with GS1US.org. Old Summit products all have SKU tags that contain legitimate UPC numbers and bar codes. While those numbers are owned by, and registered to Old Summit or our suppliers, some are not registered individually in the official UPC data base. We therefore supply customers who use bar code scanners with a list of "Product IDs" along with the corresponding "UPC numbers" to enter into their POS systems.
The minimum is 25% of the cost of the order. The order total includes trees, wreaths, garland, Tree-Fresh products and freight, but does not include Pursell resale items. The Website of course calculates the required deposit amount. Pursell resale items are paid for at the time the order is placed and it is possible to return excess inventory by simply paying the return freight cost.
There are three kinds of cash discounts available with every order. Each one is independent of the others and the totals are cumulative.
Early Order Discount - Ordering early (July 1, August 1, etc.) earns the corresponding discount percentages on the total amount of the order.
The Oldsummit.com Website makes this very easy, by accepting all major debit/credit cards plus Wire Transfers, Electronic Funds Transfers (EFT) and PayPal. Sometimes a call to your bank in advance to authorize a larger than normal transaction is required. The Website also makes provision for payment by check or money order, in which case the order is entered when payment is received.
With credit card orders, being the most common, the balance owing is charged when delivery is made. When adjustments are required after delivery, they are handled on the same card. For all others, full payment is required at the time of delivery - established customers with credit information on file, of course being the exception.
Christmas tree retailers enjoy handsome profit margins, reflecting their up-front cash investment and risk of unsold trees. It is possible to mediate that risk by working closely with Old Summit to offset financing costs against some portion of the retail margin. These agreements are tailored to individual needs, based on sales history and other business factors.
They are, but remember the purpose of the Fresh-Patch™ is three-fold. It, (1) keeps the tree fresh on the way home, (2) it keeps sap from getting on hands, clothing, cars and carpets, and (3) it helps the tree drink more water, eliminating the need to re-cut the stem at home. For those reasons, it is better to have the Fresh-Patch™ applied by the retailer.
Unfortunately not at this time. It is available in three sizes for trees up to 6 feet (depending on tree variety). Trees larger than that require conventional rebar stands, also supplied by Old Summit. Note however that every Bio-Stand™ has a bowl that holds two or three times as much water than a conventional stand. This is to allow the use of Crystal-Fresh¨, and insures that every tree gets plenty of water.
There are three sizes, two of which are made from corn in Indiana. The third, a much larger one is made from a biodegradable plastic. The small (64 gallon) one is good for wreaths, garland, gift wrapping, and trees up to 4 feet or so. The medium (96 gallon) one will hold 50% more and can handle trees up to 6 feet. Larger trees require the large and stronger biodegradable plastic one.
The 1 oz paper cartridge is handy and adequate for most water stands, holding up to two gallons. For larger stands it can be more cost effective to use the 3 oz size. In all cases, remember that too-little is better than too-much. It is better to use less Crystal-Fresh¨ and have some liquid in the bottom of the stand for the tree to absorb easily, rather than using too-much and asking the tree to work harder. The best strategy is to use a single Crystal-Fresh¨ cartridge and lots of ice early in the season, then reduce the amount of ice as the Holiday winds down. That way the tree gets all the water it needs but there is less to clean up at the end.
Old Summit is a distributor for Pursell Manufacturing in Colorado, which is one of the nation's largest suppliers. We consolidate many small orders into larger orders to Pursell to save our customers money on freight cost. The items can be drop-shipped or Old Summit will deliver along with the trees.
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