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Brian Aaron

Board Member Spotlight

Brian Aaron
National Nursery Products

Brian has served on the IGIA Board of Directors since July 2018 and moves into his role on the Executive Board in July 2021. He serves as the board liaison to the InVigorateU committee.  Brian was also a member of the cross-functional committee that relaunched the Illinois Invasive Species Council, and continues to serve as an industry representative on the Terrestrial Plants subcommittee.

Q: What motivates you on a Monday morning?
Brian: Bottom line is I wake up knowing that I get to solve someone's plant problem this week.  It may be a plant availability issue, a product delivery issue, pest issue or a production/growing issue.  I really enjoy helping individuals with their plants needs and each week another opportunity always arises.

Q: What has been your proudest moment in business?
Brian: Being recognized as the ICN Professional of the Year back in 1994.  We had just kicked off the program the year before and it was humbling to be recognized by my peers in the industry.  More recently it has been the opportunity to serve on the IGIA Board of Directors and the Illinois Invasive Species Committee.

Q: What has been your biggest business challenge?
Brian: Surviving the recession of 2008 -2011.  The recession caused me to reassess my business plan.  I decided to put my dreams of being a grower aside and go into sales of horticultural green products.

Q: Share a fun fact about you that many people don't know.
Brian: Got to guard NBA player Quinn Buckner when we played Thornridge High School during my senior year.  I began collecting plants at 5 yrs old when a neighbor showed up with a box of lily bulbs from her yard.  They followed me through three home moves until leaving for college.

Do you have a horticulture or business mentor? Is there any wisdom they have given you that you'd like to share?
Brian: I was very blessed to have many mentors through the years.  My woody plant mentor was Michael Dirr.  I've never met a person with such a passion for plants.  He demanded we have an opinion on every plant we contacted.  No opinion was never an option with him.  That is why I am so opinionated today. 

Earl Cully became a close friend. He took me to my first IPPS meeting in Florida in 1976 where he sponsored me for membership.  Earl Cully would say "Keep searching Brian, and one day you will find 'IT'.  That trip was by car and my other travel companions were Dr. Dirr and Dr Joe McDaniels.  Dr. McDaniels was an amazing plantsman never to be forgotten.  Bon Hartline of Anna, IL always told me never to stop searching for the natives. I could go on and on. 

In business Tom Hoerr Sr (Green View) was my mentor. I learned many things under his tutelage, but the one I remember most is "Nothing ever happens without a sale."  Other friends/mentors have included Roy Klehm, Dennis Burd, Don Riddle, Susie Usery and many more.  Each one shared a core passion for plants that drove everything they pursued.

Q: What's your favorite plant?
Brian: Acer griseum, followed closely by Acer triflorum, and Paeonia suffructicosa.  In the perennial world I am crazy about Spigelia, Stachys Hummelo and two grasses--Panicum Totem Pole and Andropogon Blackhawks.

Q: If you could go back in time and offer words of wisdom to a younger version of yourself starting out in this business, what would that be?
Brian: Plan for the downturns of business and be honest about weaknesses.IGIA Board of Directors

Q: What made you decide to become involved in a leadership role in the association?
Brian: It was time.  The green industry has been my life and it was time to give back and encourage and mentor a younger generation.

Q: What would you say to your peers who may be hesitant to get involved with the association or not understand the importance of belonging to an industry group?
Brian: This is a small compact industry we work within.  We need each other and you can not go it alone and be successful. Life is all about relationships in business, personally or spiritually.  The more we give the more we will get back.

About National Nursery Products

Since 1971, National Nursery Products has grown into a national supplier of a variety of nursery plants. They offer a diverse range of plants including annuals, perennials, evergreens, trees, shrubs and tropicals. They supply plants to over 5,000 customers, nationwide. LEARN MORE