Two major nursery companies with shared Oregon roots are getting back together.
Bailey Nurseries, a Minnesota-based grower with extensive operations in Oregon, has purchased Carlton Plants LLC, which is based in Dayton, Oregon, effective October 31. Carlton has specialized in high quality bare root trees, shrubs, vines, rootstocks and liners, while Bailey is a large and highly diversified grower of shrubs, trees, perennials and vines in containers, bare root and liners, with several branded product lines and with growing operations in five states.
“As a continuation of its principle of Growing What’s Next™, Bailey places a strong focus on supplying the grower market with top quality plants supported by excellent service,” the company stated in a press release. “Integrating one of the industry’s most well-respected bare root growers into the Bailey organization offers customers an expanded product portfolio with the same quality and service they have come to expect.”
The sale brings together two companies with a common thread of family ownership — second-generation Bailey owner Gordon Bailey Sr. once also owned Carlton Plants, and appointed his grandson, Jon Bartch, general manager of the company in 1992. Gordon died in 1995. Bartch purchased Carlton from his grandfather’s estate in 1997.
“Carlton Plants is very fortunate to have so many great employees, customers, and colleagues with whom strong relationships have been developed over the past 128 years,” Bartch said. “Carlton remains very strong and healthy because of them. With respect to these relationships, and as a business owner, there is a responsibility to consider the longer term future of the company. I am excited to share this future with another relationship-focused organization such as Bailey.”
Bailey said the existing history and relationship between the two companies “has laid the foundation for a smooth integration into one organization under the Bailey umbrella.”
“We have many common core values, making this a natural fit,” Bailey President Terri McEnaney said. “Our joint commitment to service and quality will be a great benefit to our expanded customer and employee base, and we look forward to bringing our teams together to support the long-term success of Bailey and our customers. This is an incredibly exciting time and we are thrilled to create new opportunities with the combined resources of Carlton and Bailey.”
Along with the sale announcement, Bailey said that Bartsch “will remain on board alongside Bailey and Carlton leadership.”
“Customers can expect a smooth transition with all 2019 ordering and shipping processes unchanged,” the company stated in its release. “During this time, long-term transition plans will be established for the most efficient integration of people and systems.”
Alec Charais, a spokesman for Bailey, told Digger that great care will be taken to integrate the two companies thoughtfully, and people shouldn’t expect dramatic or sudden changes. “Both our customers and employees have to be looked after well, and we plan to do that,” he said. “We have a high regard for the people at Carlton.”
McEnaney, the company president, expressed similar sentiments. “The entire Bailey family has great respect and admiration for what has been built at Carlton, and we are grateful that Bailey has the opportunity to continue its legacy,” she said in Bailey’s release. “Jon’s intentional decision for Carlton to continue as a plant nursery speaks volumes to his character, and I am confident that if our grandfather were here today, he would be pleased to see this next evolution for Bailey and Carlton.”
The purchase was announced to employees at both companies on October 18 and was well received by both, company officials said.
Bailey was founded in 1905 by John Vincent Bailey in St. Paul, on land the company still farms today. The company expanded to Oregon in 1977 when Don Pond helped them establish field and container operations near the city of Yamhill. Bailey expanded its Oregon operations in 1990 when it purchased a bare root production area on Sauvie Island, near Portland. That purchase also included an orchard and bare root production area in Sunnyside, Washington.
Carlton Plants was founded in 1890 in Carlton, Oregon by the Brooks family (including Gene, Kent, Lyle and Lynn, all members of the Oregon Nurseries’ Hall of Fame). The company moved its growing operations to Dayton in 1971.