A second-generation family business is thriving by making all the right moves and working with top companies, including Agra Tech in Pittsburg CA. It's called Matsuda’s Nursery, a company that has refined its artful tradition of cultivating the finest plant material available since 1957. With 160 acres of growing grounds that include 78,000 square feet of greenhouses, 32,000 square feet of propagation space, and 35 acres of shade, Matsuda's is a leader in growing plants, shrubs and flowers.
by Ed Attanasaio
Back in 2003, The Gill family established Green Acres Nursery & Supply's first location and now has five stores total, including Sacramento, Folsom, Elk Grove and Rocklin. In 2014, the Gill family purchased Matsuda's Nursery and now sells its plants through Green Acres while also marketing its products for resale nationwide.
Travis, 32, grew up in the industry and loves the business. "My father worked for many years in garden centers and I remember sweeping the floors and helping out at a very early age," Gill said. "By tapping into my dad's knowledge and experience, we've been able to succeed and adding this Agra Tech greenhouse is a big part of that."
The three main deliverables at Matsuda's include plant propagation, growing perennials and ornamentals and brokering houseplants, Gill said. "We carry more than 1,500 different species of trees, shrubs and plants and are well-known as a unique niche supplier for many products," he said. "We purchase houseplants from Florida and Hawaii to resell them at Green Acres and store them in our greenhouses prior to sale and that's what we're going to be doing with our new Agra Tech greenhouse."
A camellia thriving under an Agra Tech shade house
Recently, the company purchased a 21,000+ square foot Solar Light greenhouse from Agra Tech that contains three climate zones for different purposes, Gill said. "We have two partitions in there to create three distinct climate zones with varied light and temperatures. We can dial in the conditions so that the plants will be healthy and happy when we ship them to the stores. Acclimation of the plants prior to delivery is important and it allows us to maintain a broader and deeper inventory."
To provide diffused light to their houseplants, Matsuda's went with a twin wall polycarbonate roof for several reasons. "This will give us better quality light and cool the interior of the greenhouse as well," Gill said. "It's a performance enhancer and it requires less maintenance than a double poly roof and is a top of the line solution for what we were looking for."
Gill appreciates the service and knowledge that has been provided by the people at Agra Tech. "They don't wing it, that's for sure," he said. "They were very good at listening to our needs and concerns and coming up with solutions that work for us. I enjoy working with Jim Bergantz, because he is all about customer service and doing an amazing job."
New greenhouse showing some of the extra work required by the city to provide ADA access
Gill respects Agra Tech's team of greenhouse experts and praises the company for its unparalleled value, he said. "John Pound, the owner came here and met with us and we have always been working with Eloise at ATI and she has been unbelievably helpful. You really get your money's worth when you hire Agra Tech and that's why we're delighted with the relationship and hope to work with them on other projects in the future."
AgCon of San Jose, CA is currently constructing the greenhouse, under the direction of Ray Pound, according to Gill. "He is working with a crew of five right now and we are confident that the job will be done on-time and the work will be of the highest quality," he said. "Coincidentally, AgCon built a greenhouse for Matsuda's way back in the 1980s and it is still in use. So, we're very familiar with Ray's work, because this old greenhouse is still hanging in there and in use after all these years."
Ray Pound inside the range of Agra Tech arch houses he installed in the 80's. They are still in use today.
To provide top-notch environmental control systems for the Agra Tech greenhouse, Gill hired Argus Environmental Controls, a 30-year-old Canadian company that often partners with ATI. "The people at Agra Tech suggested we work with Argus, which has turned out to be another wise move," he said. "They're a great company that is providing us with our entire environmental control system, including all of the electrical and plumbing. We went with the best and that's why we chose Argus."
ATI Sales Engineer Jim Bergantz is amazed at what Matsuda's is achieving with their new Solar Light greenhouse. "This greenhouse is being used to warehouse their houseplants, maintaining their integrity and quality before they hit the market. As a former nurseryman, I'm impressed by this project and happy to be a part of it. We worked hard to come up with an ideal solution for them and I think we hit a home run, so we can't wait to see it when it soon comes to fruition."
When their ATI greenhouse is up and running in the spring, Gill will be ready as the company enters a new period in Matsuda's long and successful history. "By having more space to store these plants before we broker them, we will be able to keep more money in our pockets," he said. "We are excited about this new project and looking forward to seeing the results firsthand."