Bigger than the brand

Increasing Profits - Increasing Profits / Ornamental Trees

Robinson Nursery found value with Spring Meadow Nursery liners and the Proven Winners ColorChoice brand.

August 19, 2019

Malus Showtime
Photo courtesy of Robinson Nursery

Spring Meadow Nursery — initially a small, primarily contract-growing operation — is now one of the largest woody plant liner providers in North America. Despite its size, the company remains family-run and continues to be a resource for the horticulture industry. One way Spring Meadow continues to grow is through its partnership with Proven Winners, a top consumer brand. The Proven Winners ColorChoice brand was born out of that partnership and provides the industry with flowering shrubs from breeders around the world.

Not only is Spring Meadow Nursery proud of its products, the nurseries who buy and sell them are as well. Chris Robinson is production and general manager of Robinson Nursery in Amity, Oregon. Alongside his brother, Josh, Chris continues their family legacy by managing the company their parents founded in 1980.

“I always knew that I wanted to manage this company,” Chris says. “I always saw the fun that my parents had growing the business and working outside, so I developed a passion for it at an early age.”

Part of his passion is providing quality products to his customers, which he maintains in part by using liners from Spring Meadow Nursery.

During the Financial Crisis of 2008, Robinson saw that while the industry was hit pretty hard, Spring Meadow Nursery and the Proven Winners ColorChoice brand remained strong. “One thing we noticed early on in 2008 and 2009, was that the Proven Winners brand that Spring Meadow was promoting was still selling,” Chris says. “So Josh and I started to catch on. We looked at the offerings Proven Winners ColorChoice had and gained a lot of success.”

Although Robinson Nursery offers additional brands, Chris says the name of Proven Winners ColorChoice alone enhances its selling factor and adds value to the consumer experience. “Proven Winners’ marketing is just stronger than a lot of the brands we work with,” Chris says. “It’s also a nationwide brand and not just regional. People know what they’re getting.”

Earlier this year, Maria Zampini, president of UpShoot, a boutique horticulture marketing firm, partnered with Spring Meadow Nursery to add ornamental trees to the Proven Winners ColorChoice brand

“I thought it was a big opportunity because when you look at the Proven Winners brand, it’s established as the number one plant brand,” Zampini says. “They have consumers who are devoted to the brand and to the Proven Winners plants.” Zampini also says they’re focusing on items that are different, low maintenance and more disease-resistant, which are “all the things you want in a plant so it can be easy for the end consumer to just plant it and not have to think about it,” she says.

While Zampini is now in marketing, she is not foreign to the wholesale growing world. As the daughter of Jim Zampini, founder of Lake County Nursery in Madison, Ohio, Zampini knows what it takes to create a consumer-worthy product.

“Anything that’s in a Proven Winners pot is something that the end consumer already associates with as being a good product,” Zampini says. “They think ‘this is dependable, and this is my go-to.’ And we know that the trees the consumers are going to get are from good genetics and we know consumers will have success with them.”

Some of the genetics they’re starting with are trees that her father either bred or selected, which increases her enthusiasm with partnering with Spring Meadow. “This is personal for me,” Zampini says. “I’m excited because this is a way that his breeding legacy can get to a level it never reached before.”