Five Minutes With Currin's Nursery

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by Ruth C. Holcomb, Vice President of Currin’s Nursery, Willow Spring, NC

In business: 45 years

NCNLA Member: 31 years

Services: Wholesale nursery

Favorite NCNLA benefits: Education, Green & Growin’, and networking opportunities

How did your family get into the business?

My father, Richard Currin, grew up fascinated by the plants growing around him when he helped out with tobacco, so he decided to turn that passion into a career. After he graduated from NCSU with a degree in Horticulture, he started the nursery at a two-acre spot across the road from his house. He also landscaped and worked in the tobacco market until the nursery was able to fully support our family. The nursery has since expanded into a 24-acre location where he and my mother, Emily, and I work together to run the business.

What’s a typical day like for you and your family?

Typically, we will check in with each other in the morning and go from there. We work together to ensure plant quality is maintained and our customers are satisfied. There are a lot of details in between to make sure those two tasks are met each day and our employees help us immensely in both areas.  We find that our strengths and weaknesses in each area complement each other. We rarely work on the same task together, but each one of us contributes to a larger common goal.

What has been the most rewarding part of your career?

For me, just being a part of the nursery industry has been a rewarding experience. I don’t know of any other industry in which the members are so willing to give their knowledge and time to advance the industry as a whole.  Although I grew up in our nursery, my knowledge of horticulture coming into my career was limited. I have had so many people help me further my knowledge and experience - my father especially - in order to help our nursery continue to be successful. We also have the best customers around. Interacting with them on a regular basis and seeing their businesses and families expand and grow is a pleasure.

What is your company best known for?

Plant-wise, we are known for growing quality plants that are as weed free as possible.  We are in our twelfth year of an extensive weed program so that we don’t contribute to weeds in the end consumers’ landscape.  Not only do we believe growing a plant without weeds results in a better plant with a healthier root system, we believe that will result in a more desirable landscape for the end consumer. 

What issues are you concerned about as a company in the green industry?

LABOR!  We currently have six full-time employees, including my parents and myself. We have been getting by with part-time employees who are incredibly dedicated and hardworking, but they are all short term or seasonal. We have been very lucky to have a crew of three full-time foremen, who have been with us for a combined 60 years.

In order to remain a successful nursery and keep up with today’s market demands, we need more full-time employees. We have struggled immensely to find those employees that are willing to work outside and do the hard work that the nursery requires.  Unfortunately, we are not alone in this struggle.

What have you gained from your involvement in the NCNLA?

For our nursery, our involvement with NCNLA does not stop at Green & Growin’.  I try to attend many of the educational and networking sessions offered as well as the Volunteer Leadership Summit.  NCNLA is a valuable resource that enables us to have a voice outside of “our world” through advocacy; keep up with what’s going on around the green industry; connect with other nurserymen and industry members; and further our knowledge in order to continue to successfully run our nursery. We are a better nursery from the insights we have gained through these areas of NCNLA.

What advice do you have for someone interested in or just starting out in the industry?

Spend time and talk to someone who has been in the nursery industry for several years.  Most of the industry veterans are willing to help by giving advice, knowledge and encouragement.  Understand that this is an industry that values honesty, integrity and hard work and that you will succeed if you stay true to those standards.