George and Louise Lucas share their success with long-term, dedicated employees. For instance, Lori Fletcher, who manages all the orders and systems that go with them, has been with the company 21 years. Head grower Joe Moore (pictured) has been there for nearly 30 years, starting at age 11.
“We try to make Lucas Greenhouses a great place to work, like a family environment, and treat people fairly,” George says. “We want this to be a career. I try to emphasize to all the employees that as my business makes money, they will also make money, get a good bonus and pay raise. I make sure I share the business with everybody and am not putting all the money in my pocket. I know my business does not exist without them. You can have all the good ideas you want, but you have to put them into practice and execute, or you’re not going to make it.”
Louise adds, “We want people to take pride in what they’re doing and feel like individuals, whether it’s Joe (Moore) making up combos that he decides or Tim (Moore) being creative in marketing.”
As the head grower, Joe is the employee who is most nationally known in the industry. He is regarded as one of the best growers in the country and serves on the OFA board of directors. All of his horticultural training has been on the job and he has developed an extensive network to share information back and forth with other growers, which leads to new ideas and practices to incorporate.
“One reason I’ve had the success I’ve been able to achieve as a grower is I’ve been given the free range to run and develop the production side of the business here,” he says. “I’m not crazy enough to think I would or could have had the success I’ve had without having been given those opportunities. I pretty much have final say and responsibility in every area of production and growing of the crops here, along with a lot of input into the running of the business itself. That’s pretty rare.”
One lesson that has always stuck with him is the importance of consistency. “Louise probably doesn’t remember this, but when I was still pretty young and wanting to take on some additional responsibilities, she reminded me that in order to take on more, I had to be sure to be consistent with what I had already been given,” Joe says. “That has stuck with me for all of those years since.”
Fletcher marvels at the evolution she has witnessed at the company during her tenure. While she started working in the greenhouse when all production tasks were performed manually, in the office she has played a role in integrating order-entry software from breeders and brokers. “George and Louise have built their business with pride, honesty and integrity,” she says. “I have watched George work side by side with all of us. He would never ask someone to do a job that he would not do himself. George and Louise are the most generous and understanding people I have met.”
Dave Miller, who manages site work, subcontractors and construction crews for all the building projects, worked for Lucas Greenhouses as a kid in 1985 and then returned after having his own landscaping business. “George and Louise always have treated all of us as though we were partners rather than just employees, allowing us to make our choices and live with the results whether good or bad,” Miller says. “It is a great honor for the company to win this award (Grower of the Year). It takes many key people in the right positions with the right attitudes, and also the right type of owners to let everyone develop their own style and trust in them to let them take their own small part of the company and run with it.”