Generations Of Dedication

Regardless of whether your business is big or small, perhaps the most rewarding legacy you can create is opportunities for your children. That most certainly has been the case with the Tagawa family in Brighton, Colo.

Tagawa Greenhouses just completed one phase of a succession plan involving 26 family members, passing the ownership and management of the business from one generation to the next. The family business was founded in 1967 by Frank and Hazel Tagawa and their six children, Ken, Albert, Dave, George, Jim and Caroline. Frank and Hazel came from the Yuba City area of California and grew vegetables before being sent to a camp at Amache, Colo., during World War II. After the war, Frank worked as a sharecropper and truck farmer until saving up enough money to purchase 120 acres outside of Brighton.

The family grew vegetables and seedlings in a few wooden-frame greenhouses and then diversified into carnations, roses and spring bedding plants. Today, Tagawa Greenhouses is the largest producer of bedding plant plugs in North America through its partnership with Ball Seed. The operation is also a strong producer of retail-ready, finished product for The Home Depot, Costco, supermarkets and other retailers in the region.

Tagawa Greenhouses is actually just one division of the family enterprise, Tagawa Inc., which also includes:

•Â  60 percent ownership in Denver Wholesale Florist, which has 14 wholesale branches across the United States.

•Â  Tagawa Garden Center and Florist, a premier independent garden center in the Denver area.

•Â  Ball Tagawa Growers, a 50/50 partnership with Ball Seed in California.

With $35 million in sales, Tagawa Greenhouses is the second largest of the four divisions and was the first to undergo succession planning. 

A Smooth Transition

Ken’s son, Randy, had the benefit of working closely with his father, uncles, siblings and cousins his entire life before taking over as CEO. Although he graduated from Colorado State University with a degree in hort/business, there was a point in which he almost became a franchise owner of a pizza restaurant 15 years ago. But a much better opportunity came along–managing the new Ball-Tagawa production greenhouses in Arroyo Grande, Calif.

He stayed there for five years and then came back to Colorado to manage Tagawa Greenhouses. At that time, 10 years ago, a more corporate management structure was put in place. Before, each brother ran a section of the company.

“Even though I am the CEO, my dad and uncles are still very active in the company, as well as a total of 15 family members within the Tagawa organization,” Randy says. “Dad helps me oversee the administration and overall business aspects of the company, and George keeps a close watch on production and culture.”

In recent years, Tagawa Greenhouses has been transitioning from a business that is family run to family owned. Outside consultants and long-term employees who are not family members have been a big part of that.

“We at Tagawa have developed an infrastructure that is both vertically and horizontally integrated, from growing, wholesale, distribution, merchandising and retailing, which has provided the flexibility and ability to strategically plan and react to the always-changing business environment we encounter every day,” Ken says. “This has provided numerous opportunities for not only the family, but for the dedicated employees of our companies.”

When asked for advice for other family businesses undergoing succession planning, Ken says, “It does take a dedicated effort over a long period and it’s important to emphasize the process of building relationships, both with family and employees, and to communicate, affect good planning, and where possible, try to engage competent professional third-party consultants.”  

A Plan With Values

The Tagawas retained one of the largest accounting firms in Denver, EKS&H, to help with the estate planning and succession plan. The process began with the family identifying family guiding principles:

•Â  Maintain the family business legacy.

•Â  Shift from a business to support the family to what’s best for the business.

•Â  Provide retirement funding for uncles and aunts.

•Â  Maintain profitability within each business segment.

“We wanted concentrated ownership as the businesses pass from the first generation to the second,” Randy explains. “We felt that in our business, it’s hard to have people who weren’t in the business or interested in the business making decisions for the company.”

Ken adds, “It’s important to note that Tagawa has always emphasized that a career path within the companies is a choice, and in order to be successful, one has to have passion in their job.” 

A Heartfelt Thank You 

“My dad, mom, uncles and aunts are very special and amazing people. They have given everything to the business and their families. Their accomplishments throughout the years are remarkable. The new owners of Tagawa Greenhouses want to thank the Tagawa Family for the opportunity. With much gratitude, thank you.

We would like to thank Anna and all the individuals at Ball Horticultural Co. for the many years of partnering and support. We appreciate working with you through the challenges and opportunities.”–Randy Tagawa

The next step was developing objectives and a plan to meet the principles:

•Â  Organize Tagawa Greenhouses’ ownership for future success.

•Â  Give all cousins the opportunity to become owners of Tagawa Greenhouses. All owners must be dedicated, full-time employees and willing to put all their personal assets on the line for the business.

•Â  Maintain flexibility for uncles and aunts to make decisions regarding individual estates.

•Â  Protect the family enterprise.

Of the 15 cousins and in-laws, six became new owners of Tagawa Greenhouses: Randy Tagawa, Yoshi Tagawa, Aiko and Yuji Kimura, Glenn Tagawa and Cheryl Tagawa. Ownership was also opened up to two long-term managers who are not family members: John Williams, who is production vice president and has been with Tagawa Greenhouses for 22 years, and Bill Kluth, who is in charge of legal and technology and has been with the company 10 years.

“I was very honored to be asked to participate in the future of the company as an owner,” Kluth says. “The Tagawa family values are the company’s values. Their tradition of hard work, dedication to employees and customers and producing high-quality products make it a great place to work and a great opportunity.”

When Williams handed Randy the envelope with his personal assets for the bank, he wrote, “This is everything that we own. We feel that it’s a good investment. We are investing and believing in ourselves, our people and the business.”

Randy couldn’t agree more. “I think that’s what all of us feel in the new organization,” he says. “The next generation of owners will have the same dedication, passion and energy to take the business into the future.”

Yuji Kimura says he was impressed by how fairly things were presented. “Everyone had the opportunity to become part of ownership, and because there was a financial commitment, also to become owners. It truly did feel as if we were starting something new with all the benefits of an established business.”

Leave a Reply

More From Business Management...

February 3, 2016

New Plants, Products, And Trends From TPIE 2016

Tropicals, foliage, and succulents may be the way to new consumers’ hearts, based on the cool ideas, products, and trends presented at the Florida Nursery Growers and Landscape Association’s (FNGLA) 2016 Tropical Plant Industry Exhibition (TPIE), January 20-22, 2016 at the Broward County Convention Center in Ft. Lauderdale, FL. The theme this year, Elevating Expectations, was fulfilled, renewing and reinvigorating attendees to carry forth their businesses into 2016 and beyond. TPIE showcases the latest trends in foliage, floral, and tropical plants, with a tradeshow of more than 200,000 square feet of show-stopping displays. While checking out new plants and products is a great excuse to travel to South Florida in late January, the threat of Storm Jonas bringing the snowstorm of the century to the Mid-Atlantic and Southern states had some show attendees booking flights early to get home before they were stranded. Still, reports from FNGLA said this year’s TPIE […]

Read More

February 2, 2016

19 Strategies To Strengthen The Horticulture Industry

In Greenhouse Grower’s annual State Of The Industry Survey, we asked how your operation is living the GROW initiative’s five pillars: cultivate new customers, demand quality, drive consumer success, invest in the industry, and sharpen business management. Here is what you had to say.

Read More
Costa Farms

January 29, 2016

Costa Farms Named International Grower Of The Year

Costa Farms was the night’s biggest winner during an awards gala presented by the International Association of Horticultural Producers (AIPH) and held at IPM Essen in Germany. (Read more about the business culture that’s driven Costa’s success in Greenhouse Grower’s January 2016 feature story.) The Florida-based grower was named the International Grower Of The Year, and was chosen from a group that included eight other international companies. “This award is a reflection of our entire team, and we are all dedicated to being the best at what we do and making this company successful for the long term,” said Jose Costa, Executive Vice President of Costa’s foliage division. The AIPH awarded gold, silver, and bronze awards in three categories — Finished Plants And Trees, Young Plants, and Cut Flowers — prior to naming the big winner. Costa was the gold winner in the Finished Plants and Trees Category. Each of […]

Read More
Latest Stories

February 3, 2016

New Plants, Products, And Trends From TPIE 2016

Tropicals, foliage, and succulents may be the way to new consumers’ hearts, based on the cool ideas, products, and trends presented at the Florida Nursery Growers and Landscape Association’s (FNGLA) 2016 Tropical Plant Industry Exhibition (TPIE), January 20-22, 2016 at the Broward County Convention Center in Ft. Lauderdale, FL. The theme this year, Elevating Expectations, was fulfilled, renewing and reinvigorating attendees to carry forth their businesses into 2016 and beyond. TPIE showcases the latest trends in foliage, floral, and tropical plants, with a tradeshow of more than 200,000 square feet of show-stopping displays. While checking out new plants and products is a great excuse to travel to South Florida in late January, the threat of Storm Jonas bringing the snowstorm of the century to the Mid-Atlantic and Southern states had some show attendees booking flights early to get home before they were stranded. Still, reports from FNGLA said this year’s TPIE […]

Read More

February 2, 2016

19 Strategies To Strengthen The Horticulture Industry

In Greenhouse Grower’s annual State Of The Industry Survey, we asked how your operation is living the GROW initiative’s five pillars: cultivate new customers, demand quality, drive consumer success, invest in the industry, and sharpen business management. Here is what you had to say.

Read More
Costa Farms

January 29, 2016

Costa Farms Named International Grower Of The Year

Costa Farms was the night’s biggest winner during an awards gala presented by the International Association of Horticultural Producers (AIPH) and held at IPM Essen in Germany. (Read more about the business culture that’s driven Costa’s success in Greenhouse Grower’s January 2016 feature story.) The Florida-based grower was named the International Grower Of The Year, and was chosen from a group that included eight other international companies. “This award is a reflection of our entire team, and we are all dedicated to being the best at what we do and making this company successful for the long term,” said Jose Costa, Executive Vice President of Costa’s foliage division. The AIPH awarded gold, silver, and bronze awards in three categories — Finished Plants And Trees, Young Plants, and Cut Flowers — prior to naming the big winner. Costa was the gold winner in the Finished Plants and Trees Category. Each of […]

Read More

January 27, 2016

Costa Farms’ Season Premier Provides Sneak Peek A…

Costa Farms presented the 2016 Season Premier at its 2-acre Trial Gardens in Miami, FL, in the third week of January. The event showcases varieties from breeders of all sizes to growers and major retail buyers, providing a look at what genetics are coming to the market and how they’ll perform in retail settings and in the landscape, when consumers bring them home. The mild winter climate in South Florida allows Costa Farms’ Research and Development Department to simulate the spring growing conditions of various regions in the country. Because each group of visitors to Costa Farms’ Trial Gardens wants to see what the new plants look like in the environments that matter to them, Season Premier offers several areas within the Trial Gardens that highlight different ways to look at the wealth of new varieties. The New Product Showcase offers a way for retailers to see how plants will […]

Read More

January 26, 2016

Beekenkamp And Danziger Partner To Distribute Poinsetti…

Danziger is continuing to expand its portfolio of products to the U.S. market with the addition of poinsettia cuttings of Beekenkamp’s varieties.

Read More
John Daley Featured

January 25, 2016

How To Retain Motivated Young Growers At Your Greenhous…

Wholesale grower John R. Daley says engaging young growers and making them a viable part of your operation is the best way to ensure you keep young talent for the long term.

Read More
Katherine Wolper

January 24, 2016

Ludvig Svensson Hires Katherine Wolper As West Coast Sa…

Wolper says she looks forward to listening to growers and understanding the concerns, obstacles, and opportunities they face.

Read More
Israel Greenhouse

January 23, 2016

Sign Up Now For A Horticulture Tour Of Israel Taking Pl…

The tour is being organized by John and Kelly Schroeder of Valleybrook Gardens, and will include visits to greenhouses, garden centers, nurseries, and local historical sites.

Read More
Houseplant Featured Image

January 21, 2016

How To Improve Consumer Interest In Indoor Foliage Plan…

Researchers discover why there is decreasing consumer demand for indoor foliage plants and suggest ways to overcome hurdles to purchasing.

Read More
State of the industry 2016

January 21, 2016

Green Industry Is Set For Continued Growth In 2016

Economist Charlie Hall says the outlook for the green industry is promising despite the havoc wreaked on plant sales by the downturn in housing.

Read More

January 20, 2016

Tips For Overcoming Challenges In Family Business From …

Our industry is run by a collection of family businesses, and every one, no matter how big or small, has its share of management issues. But there are several differences between one that is run successfully as a business and one that allows family politics to distract from the organization’s goals. In this year’s State Of The Industry Survey, we noted that labor recruitment and succession are two areas where growers struggle. In talking with the owners of Costa Farms for this month’s cover story, I thought some of the values they have incorporated into the operation’s management structure really stood out as practices that other family businesses could use. The participatory management approach to business and team building is one that Tony Costa, the second-generation owner of Costa Farms, instilled in his children, Maria Costa-Smith and Jose Costa, and son-in-law, Joche Smith, the current owners of Costa Farms. In […]

Read More

January 20, 2016

Color Point Creates New Marketing And Communications De…

According to Color Point co-owner Ken VanWingerden, Maloney’s leadership in the new department will help the company better manage its recent growth both internally and with the entire industry.

Read More
Janeen Wright

January 18, 2016

Five Thought-Provoking Ideas From GROW Summit 2015

Here are five ideas from Greenhouse Grower’s 2015 GROW Summit ranging from big-picture ideas to smaller initiatives that can help move the industry forward.

Read More
How will growers' production in 2016 compare to 2015

January 18, 2016

2016 State Of The Greenhouse Industry Numbers At A Glan…

Greenhouse Grower‘s 2016 State Of The Industry Survey shows some promising trends for the new year. Here’s a look at the greenhouse market for 2016, in graphics.     For a more in-depth analysis of where the industry stands, read Greenhouse Grower‘s 2016 State Of The Industry article, “Growers And Suppliers Move Forward With Cautious Optimism In 2016.”

Read More
Top Concerns sidebar

January 18, 2016

Growers And Suppliers Move Forward With Cautious Optimi…

A year of growth in 2015 also had its share of challenges, and as a result, growers and suppliers are a bit more guarded going into 2016. After a few years of extreme weather and drought, a massive ongoing labor shortage, a shaky economy, and increased government regulation, Greenhouse Grower’s 2016 State Of The Industry Survey shows growers and retailers are moving forward with cautious optimism. Greenhouse Grower’s 2016 State Of The Industry Survey included separate questions for growers and for suppliers. Of our 358 respondents, 103 were suppliers, 111 were grower-retailers, 109 were wholesale growers, and 35 were young plant growers. Among growers, 57% indicated their operations were small (less than 100,000 square feet), 21% were medium-sized (100,000 to 399,999 square feet), and 22% said they were large growers (400,000 square feet or larger). Sixty-eight percent of the grower respondents said their sales grew in 2015 over 2014, down […]

Read More
SAF CAD

January 18, 2016

Sign Up Now To Attend SAF Congressional Action Days In …

Congressional Action Days is a great chance for Society of American Florists members to meet their state’s lawmakers and discuss the most critical issues they are facing.

Read More
Dr Allan Armitage

January 15, 2016

Allan Armitage: Why The Deck Has Becomes The New Hot Sp…

Armitage says decks and small spaces allow younger generations to enjoy all the benefits of a garden without the work.

Read More
State of the industry 2016

January 14, 2016

Craig Regelbrugge Says 2016 Will Be A Year Of Waiting F…

The 2016 presidential election will make for slow progress on critical regulatory issues like health care, pollinator health, and immigration reform.

Read More
[gravityform id="35" title="false" description="false"]