Ones To Watch: Young Leaders

Ones To Watch: Young Leaders

Ernie Wiegand

Retail Operation: Hoerr Nursery, Peoria, Ill.

Title: Grow Team Leader

Age: 31

Background: Ernie has a two-year certificate in horticulture from Illinois Central College; he also traveled to numerous arboretums and trial gardens across the country studying and photographing plants.

Favorite Part of Retail: “What I really like is unloading the plants that I ordered. It’s like having Christmas each truckload! Closely followed by this is seeing a customer (happily, hopefully) drive out with a load of plants.”

Best Idea At The Garden Center: “I did find a witch’s broom on a Contorted White Pine out in the nursery. This was fairly exciting because I’d not seen any dwarf conifers quite like it. It won’t be available in sellable quantities for a few years yet.”

“In my mind, my biggest accomplishment here at Hoerr’s has been getting the flowering shrub inventory to a finely tuned level. We grow a fair amount of our own containers, and figuring out the proper levels to buy versus grow and how fast to respond to a swing in buying has been a real learning process.”

Future Goals In The Industry: “Right now I’m focused on making the most of what we can do with what we have here at Hoerr’s. Perhaps some plant selection for improved varieties, education within the industry about good, better, best about the different varieties available. Life moves mysteriously sometimes, so I try not to get too focused on things way out in front.”

Hobbies Outside Of Retail: Photography and photographing landscapes of the American West and Midwest. “Not really a hobby, but I do have a Web site of my images up for people/companies to use for, well, whatever purpose they need them for. I’m trying to gear it towards garden centers.” The site is http://www.greenindustryimages.com/

Scott Hillerman

Retail Operation: Hillermann Nursery & Florist

Title: Vice President

Age: 32

Background: Scott graduated with a two-year horticultural degree from East Central College. He has been working as the second generation of the family business for 12 years full time, and six years part time. 

Favorite Part of Retail: “You never know what tomorrow will bring. We have a nursery, equipment center and repair, flower shop, landscape department and garden center, all under one roof. We are operating on 15 acres.”

Best Idea At The Garden Center: “My best idea that has been implemented at the garden center has been getting rid of the old CB radios and going to Nextel for communications. We’re hoping for a little better coverage in the future with Sprint/Nextel. We’re still relying on walkie talkies around the store. Communication is important.”

Future Goals In The Industry: “My future goals in the industry are to have excellent customer service skills.”

Hobbies Outside Of Retail: Scott’s hobbies include his three children, Nathaniel, 9, Ethan, 6, and Mya, 3. He also plays basketball, coaches baseball and fishes.

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