95 Years: A Historical Review
Our family nursery business began in the year 1921. The business was founded by Paul Offenberg. Paul was a new immigrant from Holland, where he had been Royal Garden Advisor for Kaiser Wilhelm prior to the beginning of World War I. The business was named The Paul Offenberg Nurseries, and was located in Columbus, Ohio at 1988 E. Livingston Ave. The business was involved in propagation, grafting, liner production, retail landscaping, and general retail sales. In 1945, the business relocated to 3415 E. Livingston Ave. The focus remained the same, however more space was available for evergreen B&B production.
In Late 1953, Paul’s son-in-law, Bernard J. Decker joined the business as Vice President. Bernard’s background was in ornamental iron and steel fabrication, which he had practiced since returning from World War II as a decorated radio operator and gunner in the US Air Force over Europe. The training in steel and construction eventually paid off later in his career as all future greenhouse construction at our present location was fabricated in house under his direction.
Paul Offenberg suffered a stroke in 1957, and passed away on October 2, 1958. Bernard Decker took over the reins of the business, and proved to be a quick study as company President, propagator, landscape designer, and nursery sock salesman. In 1967 Bernard was elected President of the Ohio Nurseryman’s Association. The business steadily prospered over the years, and in 1974 new land was purchased in Groveport, Ohio as a site for future relocation. At this time, Brian M. Decker, Bernard’s son and Paul’s grandson, expressed a desire to pursue Horticulture as a career, and enrolled in 1976 in The Ohio State University seeking a degree in Horticulture.
Brian graduated in 1979 from Ohio State, and joined the business as a manager and landscape salesman. In 1981, the business relocated to its current location in Groveport. The focus in the gradual construction of the new facility was propagation, pot liner, field B&B production, and container production. In addition, the corporation was reorganized and the name was changed in 1981 to Decker’s Nursery, Inc. The landscape design and installation focus of the business declined in importance and was discontinued completely in 1992.
In 1992, Brian became President of the company. In 1993 Mary Betty Decker, Bernard’s wife of 50 Years and Secretary of the Company, passed away. In 1993, Brian was elected President of The Ohio Nursery and Landscape Association. The following year Bernard remarried a wonderful lady, Dorothy Compton, and entered semi-retirement from the business. He still contributed in consultation on long range planning, equipment fabrication and modification, and greenhouse design and construction until his passing in 2012.
In 1999 a new 108-acre farm was purchased nearly adjacent to the main nursery. Progress was made to begin planting, installation of a irrigation system throughout the entire farm, and improve drainage. In 2004 a major million dollar plus construction program began on the new farm to construct buildings, ponds, shipping docks, and a 6 acre propagation and liner production facility. This new liner facility used modern greenhouses and equipment to allow the company to move to a new level in national propagation and liner production. This facility continues to expand as custom contract propagation and liner production takes center stage in the company’s future expansion. In 2016 we are breaking ground on a stage one of Westbrook structure that, when complete, will double our current liner growing area.
In addition to the greenhouse facility, the company has utilized this new acreage to expand the field finished stock production. Mike Miller, General Manager, has coordinated the three divisions, Field, Container, and Propagation into a well oiled machine.
At this point in time in 2016, the future is solid but quite a challenge in the nursery industry. With the help the help of Brian’s wife Pat, their sons Nick, Sam, and Andy, and a truly dedicated and focused staff, the company is poised to leap into the future of the nursery industry.