Ira and Menno Yoder established the company as Yoder Brothers located in Barberton, Ohio. They purchased the business from an agricultural industrialist, O.C. Barber who captured a leading position in the world’s match business, with an idea to bring industrial methods learned in agriculture to vegetables, mushrooms, and flowers. Through scientific methods, technologies were used to develop the Chrysanthemum into a year-round, worldwide crop. From there, the company became a global leader in mushrooms and horticulture. Expansion touched many parts of the globe, including Florida, Pennsylvania, Ohio, South Carolina and California in the U.S., Ontario, Canada and European Union countries: England, Denmark, Germany, Holland, with production facilities in Kenya, Colombia, and the Canary Islands.
Yoder Brothers, Barberton OH, circa 1940s
The knowledge gained over the years has been applied to many other crops, including Azaleas, Hibiscus and Perennials. Making things better has been a driving force for the company. Businesses were bought and sold as markets changed, including globalization.
Today what began as a sustainable agricultural farm is now one of the largest, diversified vertically-integrated greenhouse operation in the industry. The corporate office remains in Barberton, with growing locations in Alva and Fort Myers, Florida; Lancaster, Pennsylvania; and Leamington, Ontario in Canada. Total growing space is 2.03 million square feet of covered greenhouses; 2.75 million square feet of shade houses and 435,000 square feet of outdoor production. Employment during peak times has probably been as high as 3,000 dedicated individuals.
Aris consists of multiple divisions: Keepsake Plants Florida and Canada (finished products for mass retail and specialty), Green Leaf Plants (Pennsylvania) and Must Have Perennials® (IP). Production includes plugs/liners and finished product of potted plants, garden mums, perennials, grasses, herbs and more.
KSP Florida Hibiscus production
Innovation and adaptability are core competencies of the company, along with its dedicated, hardworking employees. Over the years, product lines and production standards have evolved to meet the changing market needs, making Aris a diversified, vertically integrated and profitable business.
Asked about plans for the future, Scott Schaefer, Aris CEO said, “I can see nothing but continued opportunity for growth and development in fulfilling our mission to provide industry-leading quality and service at competitive prices through Aris’ distribution system.”
In November, Ira and Menno Yoder founded Yoder Brothers, now Aris Horticulture Inc., in Barberton, Ohio USA. Production included vegetables and some flowering plants.
- Chrysanthemum production and breeding begins ‒ a core product line for over 70 years.
- Crop health, virus-indexing program developed – an industry first. Mum stock was sent to Canada during WWII and returned with verticillium wilt virus. Our plant pathologist, Conrad Olson, developed virus-indexing protocol, to save the mums, and it is the basis of current day practices.
- Bill Duffet was hired as our first mum breeder. He bred over 300 varieties including chrysanthemums, carnations, and snapdragons.
- Yoder Brothers, Inc. becomes the largest horticulture company geared to supplying growers.
- First computer system installed to process orders/data company-wide.
- Production facilities added in Fort Myers and Alva, Florida.
- Leamington, Ontario, Canada operation is established in 1964 as a partnership with Atkins Flowers. New greenhouses built in 1965 to produce flowering potted plants for supermarket retail sales.
- Plant Patents replace breeder/grower agreements – 1st chrysanthemum patent received in 1965.
1970s – 1980s
- Expansion in Florida with purchase of Live Oak and Parrish farms.
- Pathology Lab established in Florida for certified cuttings from virus-free stock.
- Breeding programs begin for Tradewinds Hibiscus® (1984) and Keepsake® Azaleas (1989).
- Green Leaf Plants® established in Smoketown, PA, adding perennials to the mix.
- International launch of Blooms of Bressingham® perennials (1995).
- Introduction of Fleurettes® – pot mums with small daisy flowers.
- Breeding breakthrough – Pelee is 1st bi-color pot mum.
- Marketing programs accelerate:
- Bouquet Mum/Easter Egg Mum concepts launched –mixed flower colors grown in same pot
- Supermarket Advisory Board established (includes supermarket floral buyers, growers, marketing agency)
- Spray Mum Advisory Team established (40 members, all floral industry segments)
- Supermarket Floral display contests for holiday sales
- Cutting Edge newsletter for growers
- Garden Border newsletter for retailers
- Yoder Brothers, Inc. name changes to Aris Horticulture, Inc. when the mum genetics and the internationally- known Yoder-mum brand name are sold to Syngenta Flowers in 2008.
- Keepsake Plants division established for Florida and Canada potted plant production.
- 1st clean stock, plant-health protocol is established for perennials.
- Flower Fields® Alliance marketing initiative created to promote garden plant sales.
- Green Leaf Plants becomes the industry leader in Dianthus production, including a tissue culture-based clean-stock program.
- Green Leaf Plants establishes a trial garden for evaluation of perennials.
- Florida facility receives MPS Certification.
- Blooms of Bressingham’s company name changes to Must Have Perennials®. The variety offering is marketed under the consumer-friendly Rozanne and Friends® brand at retail with an innovative social media program and website.
- Geranium Rozanne is named the Perennial Plant Association’s Perennial Plant of the Year in 2008 and the RHS Plant of the Centenary in 2013. (Rozanne is a Must Have Perennials introduction).
- Aris Horticulture, Inc. celebrates 100 years in business and is positioned for the future with diversified product lines through breeding, young plant production and quality finished products.
- Must Have Perennials celebrates its 25-year anniversary.
- Geranium Rozanne is the world’s most popular flower on Facebook with 107,000 likes.
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