Oct 29, 2003

Zelenka Nursery of Grand Haven, Mich. has announced that its assets have been sold to the Bob Berry family of Oklahoma, and it has emerged from its Chapter 11 Bankruptcy proceeding. According to Zelenka, the sale closed on Friday, October 24.

Zelenka had filed for reorganization after its lenders – Bank One, Comerica, Fifth Third Bank and Standard Federal – pulled financial support from the nursery. Zelenka already was experiencing financial problems due to two of its biggest clients: Kmart was in the midst of Chapter 11 proceedings and Target had eliminated its garden centers.

These financial problems resulted in the sudden layoff of more than 500 workers in September. Most of these workers returned to finish work for orders that had been contracted, when the bankruptcy judge ordered that the funds to pay them be made available.

The Berry family owns and operates four other nurseries, including Tri-B, Park Hill and Sanders Nurseries in Oklahoma, and Judkins Nursery in Tennessee. According to Zelenka, it will continue to operate independently under the Zelenka name, and current CEO Richard Brolick will remain in position, as will current management and employees.

Zelenka Nursery was founded by John Zelenka in the mid-1940s. Its Michigan operations grew to include more than 4,000 acres of container and field grown plants, plus 343 acres of container grown plants in northeast North Carolina. At its Tennessee nursery, it maintained 295 acres for producing container-grown trees. The company grew to be one of the nation’s largest wholesale growers of perennial and woody ornamental plants, shipping more than 10 million perennial and woody ornamental plants to 5,000-plus retail and landscape customers in 42 states.

The addition of Zelenka’s operations to the Berry family will create one of the largest nursery operations in the country. According to Zelenka, strong synergies between the two companies will result from the sale of Zelenka to the Berry family: a complementary customer base, greater product selection due to the geographic location of operations, expanded seasonal timing of crops and improved distribution efficiency.

“We are excited about acquiring Zelenka Nursery. We see Zelenka Nursery as an industry leader who, with new financial backing, can shine like it used to shine,” Berry said.

For more information, contact Zelenka Nursery at (616) 842-1367.

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