Ball Horticultural Co. plans to add Conard-Pyle/Star Roses and Plants to its family of breeding and distribution companies, according to a press release dated August 14, which announced the company’s recent acquisition of the famous introducer of Knock Out Roses and other perennials and woody plants to the market. Ball plans to capitalize on the expertise of its Ball Ornamentals woody ornamentals division, as well as Conard-Pyle’s market-leading position as a top rose breeder to strengthen its product line. The sale is scheduled to close by the end of September 2015.
Conard-Pyle’s in-house breeding division NovaFlora, along with its intellectual properties and the distribution, production and administration facilities of its wholesale division are also part of the acquisition. NovaFlora is the driving force behind the Star Roses and Plants brand.
“Conard-Pyle has been the leader in roses in its market and has been actively diversifying its offering with other woody ornamental products and perennial plants. It has excellent relationships with its customers in North America,” says Cees Boonman, president of Ball Seed Co. at Ball Horticultural Co. “With the inclusion of the Ball Ornamentals product line, it will be able to offer a more complete woody ornamental product offering to these customers.”
Plans are for Conard-Pyle, based in West Grove, Pa., to keep its name, staff and facilities while operating as a division of Ball. Boonman says future plans are to integrate the Ball Ornamentals shrub division into Conard-Pyle.
“Both [companies] have strong product offerings and solid pipelines of new products,” Boonman says. “Bringing them together makes for a more complete product line. The timing of the integration is still to be determined, with the intention of having the least disruption to our customers.”
Conard-Pyle Boasts A Rich History Of Plant Introductions
Conard-Pyle is a third generation family business started in the 1800s as a fruit tree distributor turned mail-order company specializing in roses and flowering plants. Its Star Roses brand, established in 1925, is still in use today. The company was one of the first to patent its roses and extend licenses to other nurseries for growing and selling.
In 1978, the company switched from field production to container production and closed its retail and mail order business to become a strictly wholesale nursery. Later in 2010, it left the wholesale nursery business behind to focus on the creation, development, patenting, marketing and licensing of its proprietary genetics. It still produces bare root roses and liners of roses and other proprietary material, as well as broker rose and perennial liners.
The 1999 introduction of the Knock Out Rose by Conard-Pyle revolutionized the shrub rose industry by offering better disease resistance, less maintenance and an abundance of blooms from spring to frost. New introductions are no small part of Conard-Pyle’s history, it was the first nursery in the U.S. to introduce a miniature rose to the market, ‘Tom Thumb,’ and it also introduced the famous ‘Peace’ rose, a name adopted the day Berlin fell to the Allied forces. Other popular introductions include All America Rose Selections (AARS) winners such as ‘Carefree Delight,’ ‘Portrait’ and ‘Bonica.’ It also introduced Blue and China hollies in the 1970s.
“Over its history, Conard-Pyle has introduced some of the most popular lines of roses ever brought to the market,” said Steve Hutton, current president and CEO of Conard-Pyle, in the press release. “Now combined with Ball’s strong reputation of research and development, distribution and marketing, we are confident the next several years will be exciting for the company,”
Boonman concluded the August 14 statement by saying, “Conard-Pyle’s leading genetics, long-standing relationships and nationwide network of customers have made it a valuable brand in the marketplace. The company is a true pioneer in the industry and we are thrilled to add them to Ball’s portfolio of top quality breeding and distribution companies.”