1. How did you start growing Christmas Trees? Did you know
someone? (What was it like growing up in the tree business, did you
work as a child?)
My parents started the farm in 1976, when I was six months old,
so I guess you could say I grew up in the Christmas tree business.
During summers, my friends would come out and I would run a crew
putting sticks in Noble fir tops. I think it not only taught me
hard work, but also a love for the outdoors and working in the
outdoors. The worst part of my day is when I have to sit in the
office. But that's part of the job too.
2. Did you go to college for a degree or straight to the fields
after high school?
After high school, I went to Oregon State University and
received a degree in Agricultural Business Management.
3. Did you always know this was what you wanted to do or was
there time spent away from the farm?
During college, I was unsure what I wanted to do. It took some
time soul searching and experiencing life to know that being a
Christmas tree farmer was my calling. After college, I would come
back and work on the farm for a bit to make some money and then go
explore. I spent time working as a bell boy in a ski town and
backpacked around Europe and Australia. Getting away like that
taught me how beautiful the area is where we live and how unique
Christmas tree farming is. I also spent some time living in
Portland and that is definitely not my thing.
4. Tell us about your operation please. How big, target market,
We are currently farming about 400 acres. We grow about 70
percent Noble fir and 30 percent Nordmann fir. Our target market is
independent retailers and garden centers. We also sell a portion of
our trees to other growers and brokers. We are a family farm and
only grow Christmas trees. I manage most of the production. Dad and
I work on sales together and mom keeps the books and all of us in
line. My wife, Tawnya, is a massage therapist and has recently been
getting more involved in the farm. My brother, Cory, also helps out
during harvest. We also have a great crew and many of them have
been working with us for decades.
5. Please tell us about your family.
My wife, Tawnya, and I have been married for seven years. I have
step son, Trenton, he is 22 years old. I guess at this point our
old hound dog, Timber, is part of the family as well. We live on
what used to be an old dairy farm. We have spent countless hours
fixing it up and it is now beginning to look like a Christmas tree
6. What interests/hobbies do you have when not at work?
I love snow skiing. It makes winters more bearable when I know
the rain I am working in is also making snow in the mountains. I
enjoy playing basketball, hiking, fishing, golfing and going to
O.S.U. Beaver sporting events. Tawnya and I love music and have a
large record collection. I also like working in the shop. I do all
the equipment maintenance for the farm.
7. As the next president of the PNWCTA, what do you see as three
of the biggest challenges?
Stabilizing funding - Our
association will have to deal with funding issues due to a smaller
membership. On the positive side, it appears membership has
bottomed out and hopefully will begin to move in the other
Increasing value to members - We
will have to really think outside the box and be creative to keep
things fresh and add value to our association. I would love to see
our website become a better resource for members. We have a ton of
good information, it's just not posted or is hard to find.
Better involving retailers - It's a
challenge to keep retailers engaged. I think if we can show them
that we are a resource for them, as well as growers, we will have a
8. What three things do you think the PNWCTA is doing really
Representing its members - I think
there have been great accomplishments as our association advocated
for us over the years. Some examples of this are:
- Keeping Mexico and other markets open during a time of
- Getting a full-time extension agent at Oregon State
- Giving growers the ability to choose whether or not to pay
Research - Looking for ways to grow
better trees is one of the foundations of our association. If not
for the research and university partnerships of this association,
the trees that are grown in the Northwest today would look very
different, and not in a good way.
Being frugal - Being a part of the
board has shown me how hard our association works to not waste a
penny of its members' money. I can't say we are perfect, but we try
very hard to spend member revenue in a wise way.
9. If I made you king for a day, what three things you would
change about our industry, locally or nationally?
I would get better information and data (both locally and
nationally) so that we have facts to help guide our industry.
Specifically, a few of things I would do are: