Gardens Alive! to close Michigan nursery

Gardens Alive! to close Michigan nursery

The 1,700-acre former Zelenka facility will close Aug. 3.

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June 14, 2018
Matt McClellan
Industry News

According to a news report from Grand Haven, Mich., Gardens Alive! is closing its largest farm and laying off 300 workers. The Indiana-based company notified the Michigan Talent Investment Agency that it's closing the former Zelenka Farms location, located on Winans Street in Grand Haven Township.

The layoff notice will affect 300 full-time and seasonal positions. The state notice says the Grand Haven Township facility will permanently close Aug. 3. The company listed its reason for closing as "due to current and expected future losses.”

The 1,700-acre nursery specializes in shrubs, trees and ornamental plants.

Gardens Alive! is a mail order and online retailer based in Lawrenceburg, Ind. The company was founded by Niles Kinerk in 1984 to provide “environmentally responsible products that work." The company has made several high-profile acquisitions as part of its growth strategy.

In 2011, Gardens Alive! acquired Iseli Nursery and Weeks Roses to expand the offerings from the its family of brands.

Iseli Nursery, located in Boring, Ore., is a wholesale grower of unique conifers and Japanese maples. Iseli operates as a standalone wholesale business and provides Gardens Alive’s mail order brands with additional product offerings.

Weeks Roses, located in Wasco, Calif., provides its rose lines, as well as fruit and ornamental trees.

Zelenka Farms was not the first company Gardens Alive! purchased out of bankruptcy. Previous acquisitions Spring Hill Nurseries, Gurney’s Seed & Nursery Co., Breck’s Dutch Bulbs and Henry Field’s Seed & Nursery Co. were all similar turnaround situations.

Gardens Alive! acquired the Grand Haven farm as part of the 2016 acquisition of Berry Family of Nurseries.

Zelenka Nursery was founded by John Zelenka in the mid-1940s. After many decades in business, the company declared Chapter 11 bankruptcy after losing two of its major customers, Kmart and Target. At that time, Zelenka was based solely in Grand Haven and was purchased by The Berry Family of Nurseries of Oklahoma. The Oklahoma-based company eventually sold all of its assets, including the Zelenka farm, in 2016 to Gardens Alive!. This included other growing facilities in Oregon, North Carolina and Tennessee.

The nursery operated as Zelenka Farms until July 2016 when Gardens Alive! bought the property for $15 million as the farm was going through its second bankruptcy proceedings.

Read more here from Michigan news station WZZM, and watch for further updates on this story on NurseryMag.com.