Big Grower January 2020 - 4

In 100 years, the company has evolved
from vegetable producer to mum breeder to
dianthus leader to perennial marketer, and
so much more in between. Big Grower had
the opportunity to learn more about Aris
Horticulture, the company's beginnings,
where it stands today and all it has achieved
since 1920. It has certainly been an incredible
journey, with even more to come.
The company's history is tied to the founder
of Barberton, Ohio, where Aris Horticulture's
headquarters is still located today.
In his retirement, town founder Ohio C.
Barber, a wealthy industrialist, built what was
one of the first sustainable agricultural farms
in the country, according to Christine Kelleher,
marketing director for Aris Horticulture, Inc.
It covered 3,500 acres, and included 20 acres
of greenhouses. He hired Ira and Menno
Yoder to manage the greenhouse operation.
When Barber passed away in 1920, the Yoders
purchased the greenhouses and started the
Yoder Brothers company. It is still family
owned, with third and fourth generation family
members involved today.
" Initially, they grew both vegetables and
flowers, " says Kelleher. " And over the years, the
product lines evolved to meet market changes,
but the thing that they have been most known
for is the chrysanthemums. "
According to Kelleher, the Yoders really built
up the mum market in the 1930s and 1940s.
Green Leaf Plants has established strict harvest protocols to ensure disease-free dianthus production.
At the height of it, they were the largest mum
producer in the world. They started with cut
mums and expanded into potted mums and
later garden mums.
One of the biggest takeaways from the
Yoders' venture into mums was crop health.
When World War II broke out, they were forced
to switch over to produce to support the war
effort, says Kelleher. The mum stock was sent
up to Canada for safekeeping until the war
would be over and they could bring it back
home. When it came back, it was infected with
a stunt virus. They hired a pathologist and
worked on finding a way to remove the virus.
" They came up with a virus indexing program
and developed it, " says Kelleher. Thankfully,
the program was successful. It provides a strong
foundation for what is done in the industry today
and carries over into other areas of Aris including
hibiscus, dianthus, hydrangeas, and mandevilla,
adds Scott Schaefer, Aris CEO and president.
" This program is the basis of everything that is
used to this day in our industry, " adds Kelleher.
Into the 1950s and 1960s, the Yoders found it
necessary to expand production. They added
new locations and also added to their product
lines. As air freight became possible, they were
able to add greenhouses in Florida.
The warmer climate was a huge advantage,
which helped the company diversify their
product line. " For the longest time, mums were
the main crop. With the new facilities, they
added crops like carnations, snapdragons, zonal
geraniums and foliage. "
In the 1970s, they expanded north and
A news story from 1937 featuring founders
Ira and Menno Yoder.
purchased an existing facility in Leamington,
Ontario, Canada. " We wanted to get into the
retail market, " shares Schaefer. " That's when we
expanded into potted plants for supermarkets. "
4 JANUARY 2020
Up to that point, they were primarily
growing young starter plants. With the entry
into the retail market, the Yoders decided to
expand their breeding program and introduced
Keepsake Azaleas and Tradewinds Hibiscus.
Today, the Florida facility is referred to as
Keepsake Plants Florida and the Ontario facility
is Keepsake Plants Canada. Both divisions work
together across North America to provide a
mix of finished products and liners, including
Keepsake azaleas, Tradewinds hibiscus, Sun
Parasol mandevilla, hydrangeas, poinsettias,
garden mums and asters, and more.
And the Tradewinds hibiscus and Keepsake
azalea breeding continues to be quite successful.
Today, the company offers 19 commercial
varieties of Tradewinds hibiscus that boast
extraordinary flowering and prolific budding all
season. The plant habit is ideal for flowering
pots, beds, borders and upscale containers.
Aris is also proud to set industry standards in
keeping quality in azaleas through its Keepsake
breeding, including development of the Rozalea,
a Keepsake azalea with a unique rose-petal flower
form which is always in high demand. Gary
Knipe, managing director of Keepsake Florida
adds, " Through our own proprietary breeding or
licensing, we are continuously seeking to bring to
market new and improved varieties that fit with
the subtropical Florida growing environment. "
" We have a lot of history over Aris' 100 years and
that has really helped us get where we are today, "
says Rob Bigley, managing director of Keepsake
Plants Canada. " We rely on our customer service,
continuous improvements and our consistent
quality products to satisfy the needs of retail
market customers including grocery, mass retail
and specialty internet fulfillment. "
Bigley also says that Leamington' s location
in the heart of southwest Ontario' s greenhouse
vegetable production and related transportation

Big Grower January 2020

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Big Grower January 2020

Big Grower January 2020 - 1
Big Grower January 2020 - 2
Big Grower January 2020 - 3
Big Grower January 2020 - 4
Big Grower January 2020 - 5
Big Grower January 2020 - 6
Big Grower January 2020 - 7
Big Grower January 2020 - 8
Big Grower January 2020 - 9
Big Grower January 2020 - 10
Big Grower January 2020 - 11
Big Grower January 2020 - 12