Project description

Business Owner: Mark Nelson
Business: Nelson’s Florida Roses
Location: Apopka, Florida

Meet The Nelsons
After years of grafting roses, Olin Finley had perfected the art of growing roses in the hot humid climate of Apopka, Florida. Like many successful entrepreneurs, Olin Finley discovered a need that no one in Florida state had yet fulfilled. “There was a need for roses that would last in people’s yards. Before us, nobody sold roses in pots in Florida, much less, roses in pots grafted on Fortuniana Rootstock. Roses were thought to be a short lived product in Florida. No rose societies – maybe garden clubs – but nothing like it is today.”

In 1955 with the help of his two sons, Earl and B.P. Olin were able to establish a successful small business, Nelson’s Florida Roses, by financing his expenses all on his own. His determination and follow through led him to be the leading rose nursery in all of Florida.

Meet Mark T. Nelson:
What originally started off as a small floral Nursery, soon blossomed into a family owned business. One of O.F’s grandsons, Mark T. Nelson, now carries on the Florida rose legacy and runs the business. Prior to taking over Nelson’s Florida Roses business, Mark graduated college and spent some time serving in the Army. Once he realized his passion for business, Mark took on an a position at an architectural supply house and started learning all that he could about operating a small business. It was here that he gained the knowledge on how to repair gardening equipment—this would be vital in his role at Nelson’s Florida Roses. Mark accredits his time working various jobs as well as his time spent in school to his growing family business. “I think all of my experiences in high school and college were valuable to my success. I learned stubbornness and how to be competitive from sports in both HS and college. Math has also come in handy when knowing how many plants we need to graft and how many of those will actually live, etc.”

Mark continues the traditions and carries on his grandfather’s unique gardening technique of grafting and growing.“We have a product that does what it is supposed to do. Our roses will last for 10+ years unlike roses from the box stores which will last, if you’re lucky, 4 years. I strongly believe that you ought to produce a product that lasts. Not a product that doesn’t need to be worked on or tended to, but one that lasts with a little care.”

Weather The Storm
From hurricanes to early winter freezes, Mark and his family have learned to be flexible and ready for change. No matter the challenge, Mark has learned the valuable lesson of pressing forward and realizes that you can’t control the weather but what you can control in your business is your attitude, and what you will do after the matter.“We’ve been through hurricanes and freezes that were early, so we weren’t prepared, and hail storms—  one storm broke 18 greenhouses worth of glass… We’ve tried to ‘control’ the weather with generators for pumps/power, protection from freezes, we’ve done everything we can do, but no matter what, in the agriculture business, you’ll never be totally prepared for a big disaster. You can be prepared to make changes and stay positive in every situation”