Paul & Michelle Kraemer, Kraemer’s Nursery, Mt. Angel, OR
In the heart of the Willamette Valley is Wilco member and supplier, Kraemer’s Nursery. Paul and Michelle Kraemer and their four children, Kelly, Garett, Neil, and Brent, are the current family members involved in the day-to-day operation, which spans 450-acres, and includes the 40-acres that Paul was raised on. His grandfather grew cane berries on the homestead, and it was Paul’s father, Alan Kraemer, that started the nursery business when he returned home after graduating from Oregon State University in 1968.
Today, Kraemer’s Nursery employs 250 people year-round and another 80-100employeesduring spring harvest, in order to get their containerized nursery products to market. While part of their acreage is dedicated to field grown nursery products, almost everything they sell is in a pot, and utilizes many green houses to fulfill their retail orders. From a wide variety of woody ornamentals, fruit trees, roses and ornamental grasses, Kraemer’s Nursery products can be found in retail locations throughout the entire western United States, including Wilco Garden Centers.
While they’ve seen significant growth over the years, they pride themselves on the family feel they are able to maintain in their family business. “We’re super fortunate to have the employees we do, some who have been with us 30-40 years,” said Paul. “We work hard to empower our employees and are big enough to promote from within,” he added.
They saw their business expand in the early 2000’s when demand grew through the expansion of their box store customers. “Our average crop cycle is 24 months, and since we can’t see the future, forecasting is the most challenging part of our business,” Paul said. “We watch demand and look for products that make sense given the various hardiness zones we supply to.” He emphasized that the forever-changing product mix that they get to play with and the people they work with on all levels of their business is what makes farming fun. Making it a family affair makes it even better. Michelle and Paul met in kindergarten and graduated from Kennedy High School together, so watching their four children join in the family business as adults has been very gratifying.
The Kraemer’s have been Wilco members since the 1970’s, and use many aspects of the cooperative’s services, including fuel, agronomy and the retail store. “We value our membership as both customer and supplier,” Paul said. “The comfort and trust we have in them and their employees is longstanding.”