What is the company’s history?
In 1945, my dad, Stan Sr., started a garden center on Alameda Avenue, a few blocks east of Federal Boulevard. I started working full time in the spring of 1964, after an unsuccessful academic pursuit at Colorado State University. In those days, we grew field trees and dug them by hand, supplying them to local garden centers and using them for our landscaping projects. The business evolved from a garden center with a landscape division to a plant supplier for garden centers such as O’Toole’s and larger stores such as Kmart and Target, as well as landscape contractors. At our current location, we utilize about 34 acres with easy access from most of the Denver area.
What markets do you serve?
Our bread and butter market is serving small to medium-sized landscape contractors in the Denver metro area. We also sell to mountain resort towns. One newer and growing market is estate management companies. Whether for a renovation project or a special event, these customers are looking for the highest quality, larger sizes and best color to enhance their properties and keep their clients happy.
How has COVID-19 impacted your operations?
We had to quarantine one of our crews for two weeks when a worker tested positive. After their quarantine, all tests were negative. We’ve added shields between desks in our office and limit the number of people in there at any one time. In the shipping department, we’ve switched to shipping our plants using wooden racks that allow for unloading with a forklift. That reduces the unloading manpower significantly, which aids in social distancing. We’ve gotten a certain sense of satisfaction from meeting the challenges brought on by the pandemic and solving problems we’ve never encountered before.
How do you view service to the industry?
My dad set an example of how everyone should give back to the industry that supports them. He was president of the Colorado Nurserymen’s Association, as was I and my son, Steve. As far as I know, we are the only family in the United States to have three consecutive generations serve as president of a state nursery association. Service to your industry association is very important, which helps strengthen important relationships that ultimately benefit members. As an example, because CNGA has a very good relationship with the Colorado Department of Agriculture, the agency often seeks CNGA member input and will even change or revise policies and rules due to such input. That’s one of the easiest ways to serve CNGA – by speaking up and voicing your concerns and opinions when asked.
What’s the story behind the caricatures of AWN’s staff?
About 30 years ago, I was in a mall and saw an artist drawing caricatures. I had an idea and asked if he would come to our office and do caricatures of our staff. We have since included them in our catalog and on our website (http://www.alamedawholesale.com/staff.html), and added a humorous genus and species name to each caricature as well. We receive many compliments from our customers who really enjoy them. In fact, I was recognized in the office once by a customer who had seen my caricature. But, I don’t know if that’s a good thing or not!