Most people would be grateful for a gift of a new car of college tuition on their 18th birthday. Ashley Gill Rossi was gifted a career. In 2003, with his children in mind, her father Mark, then a seasoned but recently unemployed retail garden center business professional, drafted the business plan and secured investors for what would become Green Acres Nursery. Brother Travis had an interest in business, Ashley saw herself pursuing marketing and entrepreneurship and both recognized a good opportunity. After learning the business by working up the ranks, Ashley now handles the company’s marketing and business development, construction facilitation of new locations, and e-commerce projects, especially challenging because of shipping and perishable nature of the goods they sell. Travis runs Green Acres’ operations, improvements and mechanization and Matsuda’s, the growing operation acquired after the death of iconic Sacramento gardener Don Matsuda in 2013.
As the business has grown – the local empire now owns and operates five retail locations – attorneys and advisors have guided purchases and acquisitions to respect the Gill family’s wishes of keeping the business in the bloodline. Mark’s plan of growth, adding and diversifying assets whenever possible, owned by the family and not the business, is to secure the business’ success and longevity.
Since Mark is nowhere near retiring, the family’s succession plan is still taking shape. “Dad doesn’t think there’s much to do, but we do. I know his style is not to hand us a finished document. I would welcome it, but I know it’s for my brother and me to figure out. FBC really helps us with those generational differences,” commented Ashley.
All three plus their CFO and other employees attended last year’s Generations Conference specifically for the solid technical information and camaraderie and support from family businesses in similar situations. “For the most part, we are newer and younger so hearing stories from fourth and fifth generations reinforces that there are many right ways to do things. We just need to find the way that’s right for us.”
The NextGen and Women’s Affinity Groups are of particular interest to Ashley. She especially enjoys interacting with FBC members because they understand the importance of supporting local businesses that are providing jobs.
Although the eldest of the third generation of the Gill family is just starting kindergarten, passing the business on to them is always in the back of the family’s mind. To accomplish that, Ashley and Travis want “to learn as much as I can from my dad every day. He’s the visionary, architect and managing member. I need to pick up what I can.”