The festive season is nearly upon us and a focal point for many homes is the Christmas Tree. Paul Andrews spoke to the second generation of Sholach Christmas Trees to find out more. As Kelly McKintyre explains, “The McIntyre family have farmed at Wester Essendy for around 100 years. William McIntyre bought the Sholach in 1995, adding to the land he had inherited from his father. Following the raspberry growing history of the family he diversified into growing Christmas Trees in 1992 and ran the business with his wife Jean.”
“We are an established family run business based near Blairgowrie, Perthshire and have been selling Nordmann Fir and Norway Spruce direct to the public and via wholesale partners for over twenty years.”
Until 2012 the business had been Willie’s concern but things changed dramatically with his death that year. Following his death, the family, Jean and their son Willie and daughters Sarah and Kelly came together and took the collective decision to continue the growth and sale of Christmas Trees as a legacy to him with the trees being grown in Scotland on the family plantation and being sold locally as well as through the family connections in London.
As Kelly adds, “The first few years were a struggle. We didn’t have enough mature trees so we had to plant more small trees. It was a huge learning curve as we had to learn how to grow and tend the trees and at that time we only selling via the wholesale route and the business was not making financial sense.”
“As a next generation we have all lived in London at some point in our lives but my siblings, Sarah and Willie, have lived there for nearly 20 years. It was Willie who came up with the plan to ‘miss the middleman’ and sell directly to the public in London last year and we added the direct to public sales side to the wholesale business.”
Living in Crystal Palace Willie found a great pitch at Crystal Palace Park and as a result of offering a tree in a local pub, they secured a pitch in Tooting and the supply to their pub chain. This was a turning point for the business. As Kelly explains, “Off we trundled with an artic lorry full of trees and Sholach Christmas trees London was born. It was scary! It was a new venture and we invested a large amount of time, energy and money into the planning and execution of it. Thankfully all the hard work has paid off but we still have a long way to go!”
As a family firm business revolves around the wholesale of trees locally in Blairgowrie and Perth together with the pop-up shops at Crystal Palace Park and the Graveney and Meadow in Tooting, London.
Kelly is justifiably proud of their achievements which are made all the more real by the fact that the siblings all have other ‘day jobs’ besides working in the family business. “It’s a real family affair. My mum, Jean, does the finance and accounting side of thing whilst I do the social media, website and photography as well as running the Crystal Palace site. Willie does the management and works on the trees and general logistics of everything from London.”
The nest generation, G3 are also getting used to roles in the family firm because since leaving school, Kelly’s son, Conall has started seasonal work and as well as having a job with an accountancy firm in London her nephew helps out distributing marketing fliers and putting up banners.”
Sister Sarah helps out after her work in London and so do friends and family.
Firm favourites are the Norway Spruce, ‘The Traditional Christmas Tree’ which is back in fashion and provides the classic smell and memories of Christmas Past so if you’re ‘pining’ for the nostalgia of Christmas past this is the tree for you.
Overwhelmingly the most popular choice is the Nordman Fir, the non-needle-drop-variety that has a fine symmetrical, pyramid shape and strong branches. It’s big, glossy green needles are soft to touch, and it is often the tree of choice for all the family to decorate.
Sholach Christmas Trees embodies the very essence of what being a family firm represents. Commitment, shared vision and strong values at their core with a next generation demonstrating real purpose and desire to continue a legacy in memory of their father.
As Kelly concludes, “It’s hard work running a family business the way we choose to do so as we all have our ‘day’ jobs but we’re passionate about continuing dad’s legacy an creating something sustainable in his memory. The Sholach really is a magical place and we have a lot of enjoyment there throughout the year in spite of the hectic two months around the harvest and selling period!”
A family firm with real purpose that truly embodies the sentiment of this time of the year.
Visit www.sholachfarm.com to find out more.