My passion for this green industry started early with a love for the great outdoors. My mother would always have a hard time getting me to come inside, and get out of the trees, literally. I was always looking to the trees and building tree houses. I must have made a dozen, each one a step better than the last. My final house was three-stories with a top floor patio built in a beautiful multi-stemmed silver maple. It must have been 30 feet in the air.
Once I hit high school, making money became one of my top priorities so that I could purchase my own truck and fix it up. This is where my entrepreneurial spirit became evident. I was doing every outdoor activity in the neighborhood, mostly landscape maintenance, lawn mowing, leaf raking, edging, pruning, snow blowing, etc. I found this work to be very rewarding; to see something start out looking less than desirable and turn it into something that looked completely transformed. I found myself regularly in situations where I would get asked technical questions that I could not answer. This is when I made the decision to go to college and pursue a career in this profession.
Once out of college, I realized I was in a less than desirable job market, with a fair amount of debt. This is when I came to Winterberry, met the two brothers and they asked, “When can you start?” I began work the next day, finding that I didn’t know everything. This was a blow to my confidence. There were so many varieties of plants that I had not studied while in school that I now had to learn about and become more familiar with. The green industry was a little overwhelming. I realized that I had mastered what was presented to me in college, but when it came to in-the-field experience, I was clueless; so I put my head down, worked hard, paid attention and became a sponge while learning the craft. Along the way, Scot and Al invested in me: annual trips to farms on the east and west coasts, management clinics, product knowledge courses, trade shows and Garden Center University. I had no idea how much went into running a Garden Center. I was a real greenhorn. Through my experiences, I learned that like any business, it consists of having to wear so many hats and working on many different projects daily. For me, this is one thing that makes this line of work so attractive: it never gets old or boring; you are constantly learning new and different things. One minute I’m calculating BEP and the next I’m fixing a broken main irrigation line.
I have also found that while working in the green industry, you meet and work with a lot of like-minded people with the same passions for life and their work. One of the most inspirational realities of what I get to do daily is positively affecting people’s lives through plants. Plants just have that ability to cheer you up, and make your life better. They purify the air, beautify your surroundings and help to reduce your carbon footprint. I consider myself a very lucky person being able to work with a company that supports me and allows me the freedoms to create the Winterberry Experience. My parents once told me, “If you find a career that you love and are passionate about, you will never have to work a day in your life.” For me, this statement has truly become a reality. What I do at Winterberry is not just my job, it’s my passion and I am proud to share my passion for the green industry with others everyday.