My introduction to agriculture came at about age 5 when our Dad made us trim the annuals and spray the roses. I hated doing those chores. After high school, I went to work for a music distributor and when that business closed a few years later, the owner purchased a nursery in Homestead, Florida. My first day was picking up rocks from a field so a new shade house could be constructed. The nursery, Margo Farms, grew into one of the most progressive nurseries of its time and the owner had ties to Europe, Puerto Rico, and the Dominican Republic. I managed shipping for a few years, and then sales and sales management. I owe Mike Spector much gratitude for trusting me to grow with his company. Margo Farms was known for introducing new varieties, and we traveled around the world, establishing some of the relationships I still value today.
From there I joined Foremostco, which opened a finished plants division called Ready Plants. It was a fantastic experience, working with some of the best people in the industry and learning some very valuable business skills. The owner, Joe Roberts, taught me more in those 5 years than I could have learned in a lifetime. From there, I was finally able to open my own business with a partner, starting with a modest 1 acre nursery. Working weekends after our regular jobs, we bought 5 acres and then 10 more. The business grew and we enjoyed every year. When that partnership ended about 10 years ago, I opened Island Tropical Foliage.
With the help of valued employees, we focused on exporting to the Caribbean, Spring Flowering and Ferns. We are at a comfortable 25 acres and because of our employee’s hard work and dedication, and the best customers in the world; we enjoy steady business and growth. Our philosophy is to help the customer in any way we can. We figure if we do that, the rest will come. We hire people with that same philosophy and the relationships we have are strong and we are grateful for that.
My father passed away years ago and though I hated spraying those roses, I found myself spraying 20,000 of them. I had to smile.