You might not know that Green Glen Nursery started as a father-son side job selling grass seed on the South Side of Chicago in the late 1960s — but that’s where it all began.
The pair continued to work hard and began growing plants for small landscaping jobs. The business sprouted from there. In 1968, Dick J. Ooykaas, along with his son and current owner, Dick E. Ooykaas, formally created Green Glen Nursery, planting its roots on Marley Road in New Lenox, Illinois with just 20 acres.
As they were working, son Dick went off to the University of Illinois to obtain a formal education to learn how to grow and care for plant material. He graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Ornamental Horticulture in 1978. This knowledge, along with their keen business sense, helped to thrust the business forward.
SEEDS OF KNOWLEDGE
As Dick graduated from the University of Illinois in 1978, the pair opened a retail garden center on Laraway Road in Joliet, which successfully operated for 40 years until this past spring, when the Ooykaas family decided to focus exclusively on wholesale business, adapting to the demands of the industry.
Just a few short years later in the early 1980s, the father-son duo purchased additional nursery property in Elwood to expand their operation and grow high-quality plant material. The business boomed and the Chicagoland nursery gained a solid reputation as a wholesale nursery with an unbeatable selection of high-quality plants and trees.
Most recently in the Spring of 2018, all operations moved onsite to the nursery on Cherry Hill Road in Elwood. A brand new wholesale facility, including additional overwintering houses, was built on the nursery property prior to opening. Its close proximity to the nursery stock and carefully designed layout will help facilitate customer loading for quicker service.
While Dick worked with his father to build the business, he also got married and started a family with his wife, Pat. All three of their children, Amanda, DJ, and Jason, studied horticulture and work at the nursery with the hopes of continuing the multi-generational family business.
Each family member has worked in a different facets of the nursery and garden center to find their niche. Today, Amanda works in wholesale sales, DJ handles deliveries, and Jason works in the field alongside longtime employee John Haas, who has been with the company for nearly 35 years.
What started out as a small grass seed business has blossomed into a sprawling nursery that has been in business for 50 years and counting. Owner Dick Ooykaas explained that his hope for the future of the business is to continue to grow the business for future generations and to become a one-stop shop for local landscapers and garden centers. Today, Green Glen Nursery boasts over 500 acres of nursery stock and sells to landscapers, garden centers, and other organizations.
Are you a landscaper, garden center or business looking for high-quality plant material? Contact us for a quote today! (815) 723-1140.