Green Acres buys Matsuda’s wholesale nursery

05/21/2014 6:48 PM

05/21/2014 6:49 PM

Green Acres Nursery & Supply added to its local empire Wednesday when it took ownership of Matsuda’s 160-acre Sacramento wholesale nursery.

Known for its azaleas and other ornamental shrubs, Matsuda’s is an icon in the Sacramento gardening community and one of the state’s top wholesale nurseries. Its purchase allows Green Acres to control production of a lot of what it sells.

“It helps us secure our supply chain,” said Ashley Gill, Green Acres’ marketing director. “We listen to what our customers want. This gives us a better handle on what we can offer and grow what people want. We can take it to the next level.”

It’s also another step in Sacramento’s evolving post-recession nursery picture. While several competitors closed in recent years, Green Acres thrived and expanded. The family-owned chain has three locations – Sacramento, Roseville and Folsom – with a fourth retail nursery scheduled to open in early 2015 in Elk Grove.

“Moving into the growing side of the business is new and exciting for us,” Gill said. “It allows us to secure the highest quality plant material for our three, soon to be four, retail locations in the region. The plant material is grown locally and thus is better acclimated for local gardens.”

“Matsuda’s is one of the finest growers in the country,” she added, “and we couldn’t be more pleased to align ourselves with their rich history and superior horticultural practices. We believe this means great things for both companies and ultimately for landscapers and gardeners in Sacramento.”

Founded in 1957, Matsuda’s was owned by Don and Marcia Matsuda. Green Acres purchased Matsuda’s Sacramento retail nursery on Jackson Highway in 2008, but the company maintained its large wholesale nursery and growing yards on Florin Road. In 2011, Matsuda’s came under scrutiny when a U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement investigation uncovered 61 undocumented workers at the wholesale operation. Matsuda’s managed to weather that controversy. But after Don Matsuda’s death in 2013, the future of the wholesale nursery looked uncertain.

“We’ve been in negotiations since last fall, shortly after Don passed away,” Gill said.

With both companies privately held, the price was not disclosed. Under terms of the deal, the wholesale nursery’s 135 employees will remain with the company and so will the Matsuda’s name. The business will continue to supply plants to landscapers and garden centers throughout California and northern Nevada as well as feed Green Acres’ needs.

“It was important for us to know our employees would stay with the nursery, since they have been so critical to the success of our operations,” Marcia Matsuda said in a statement. “We know the Gill family will maintain the high standards of quality production my husband was so proud of. We wish them great success, and are honored they will carry on the Matsuda name in the nursery industry.”

Matsuda’s annually grows and ships an estimated 1.2 million plants in more than 800 varieties. Besides 82 different azaleas, the nursery also nurtures a wide variety of perennials, roses, fruit trees and shade trees.

“They grow most of their plants from their own cuttings, so they control the genetics in house,” Gill said. “And all of it is locally grown; that’s important.”

Green Acres’ move makes sense, said Sacramento radio host and gardening expert Farmer Fred Hoffman, who was not surprised by the announcement.

“We need a source of local plants,” Hoffman said. “They’re in a down industry and it’s a down year for most nurseries, but Green Acres is smart. They’re planning for the future. (Construction of) a lot of new homes are on the horizon and they’ll need new landscaping.”

“And they’re keeping jobs in the community,” he added. “One local family is taking over for another local family and keeping the wholesale operation going. With so many closures and consolidations in this business, it’s nice to have a good local wholesale operation survive.”

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