Get to know Ariel Montañez
Ariel Montañez (right) with Pender Nursery co-owners Jim Deal and Kathy Deal.
Photo courtesy of Ariel Montañez

Get to know Ariel Montañez

Departments - Get to Know

Ariel Montañez is the general manager of Pender Nursery in North Carolina.

July 12, 2022

NM: You’ve taken a different path than most of the people in this industry. How’d you end up working in horticulture?

AM: When I left the Marine Corps, I finished my Bachelor’s degree in business and I really wasn’t sure what I wanted to do. Honestly, I was just looking for a job. The first job that I landed was an HR assistant with Monrovia when they had their location here in North Carolina. That’s how I got started in this industry. I don’t have a hort background. It fell into my lap, and I fell in love with the industry. I enjoy being able to work outdoors, to go out on the nursery and see the different plants and working with the people.

NM: You spent eight years in the Marine Corps. Where were you stationed?

AM: Okinawa, I spent some time in California, and mostly here in North Carolina at Camp Lejeune. I was born in Puerto Rico, but my dad was in the Army, so I grew up in Germany. But I never really had a hometown because we moved a lot. North Carolina has become my home and I love it here.

NM: You do a lot of promotional work for Pender Nursery on TV and social media. How do you prepare for that?

AM: I know how important social media has become as a tool. Not just to sell a product, but to sell your story. You can really communicate a lot about your values and what your business brings to our society. It’s more than just selling plants or providing a product. It’s everything that goes into it — the people who work for a company that do such a great job. So I use it as a way to tell our story and make it stand out.

NM: Has it led to increased awareness?

AM: This past trade show season, I was shocked at how many people would come up to me and say, ‘Hey, I saw your video on LinkedIn or YouTube.’ I was shocked at how many people watched it and would actually come and talk to me about it. I think it’s helping people understand who Pender Nursery is, what we can provide and what we’re about.

NM: What’s your favorite part of your job?

AM: What I’m most proud of is I do understand how to lead a team of people towards a common goal. How to pull people together and how to help them realize their maximum potential. I’ve always had a gift for doing that. I enjoy developing leaders and mentoring people so that they can be the best they can be.

NM: How did you become a leader who can train leaders?

AM: It started in school with athletics. Playing football and baseball and learning how to work within a team. But definitely the Marine Corps taught me how to be a better leader and how to identify leadership qualities within other individuals.

Ariel Montañez (right) with Pender Nursery co-owners Jim Deal and Kathy Deal.
Photo courtesy of Ariel Montañez

Management is about managing things, but you have to lead people. Leadership requires inspiration and motivation. if you’re not motivated, you’re not going to motivate anyone else. And if you’re not inspired, you’re not going to inspire anyone else. The greatest attribute or the greatest thing that a leader can have is motivation or inspiration because it’s contagious.

NM: When you’re not working, what are some of your hobbies?

AM: Well, I’m a gym rat. I love lifting weights; that’s what I do the most. But I enjoy any time hanging out with family and friends. That’s important to me.

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