Just four years before the Great Depression, Clyde J. Worth was asked by Lloyd Pottinger to join him in running the Pottinger Nursery on 20 acres of land just north of today’s site. The two young men had been close high school friends and soon formed a corporation. Kankakee Nursery was born.
Clyde’s sons, Phillip, born in 1926, and Robert, born in 1932, eventually began working at the nursery as teenagers and later returned to the family business after stints in military service. After Clyde passed away in 1954, Phil and Bob purchased Lloyd Pottinger’s stock, thus taking full ownership and control of the nursery. The brothers continued to innovate, adapt and expand the business by acquiring more acreage and constructing refrigerated storage units, polyhouses and irrigation systems to increase quality and efficiency.
In the 1970s, the third generation came aboard. Phil's daughter Linda worked in bookkeeping, while Bob's sons Dick and Steve joined the team after receiving degrees in ornamental horticulture and business administration, respectively. Linda continues to serve as the nursery's Controller and Credit Manager, while Dick leads production management and Steve heads the sales team. Linda's husband Steve Curren has been with Kankakee for 33 years and manages all of the nursery facilities as well as the bare root operation. And finally, the fourth generation is now entrenched in the day-to-day operations of the nursery. As it's been known to say in the industry, "There's always been a Worth at Kankakee Nursery."
Thanks to decades of expansion, Kankakee Nursery now owns over 2,700 acres of farmland and grows over 500 varieties of nursery stock. Our customer base, which initially consisted of strictly Midwestern nurseries and landscapers, now stretches as far west as Colorado, and, more recently, upwards into Canada.
Growth is not our sole priority, however. Over the years, we have taken a leadership position in both the community and the nursery industry. We routinely provide college classes, local schools and service groups with donated plants, and are never hesitant to take them on tours of the nursery. Bob and Dick Worth are both past presidents of the Illinois Nurseryman Association/Illinois Green Industry Association, while Steve Worth currently sits on the board. In addition, we are members of both the American Nursery and Landscape Association and virtually all Midwestern state green trade associations. Kankakee Nursery is also an active supporter of the Illinois Landscape Contractors' Association and has been a frequent host of its annual Summer Field Day.
In the summer of 2008, during the middle of one of America's most catastrophic economic downturns, Kankakee Nursery hired Mike O'Gorman, a Kankakee native with a background in finance, to help steer the company through the recession. Mike has remained on board ever since and in 2015 was named President of Kankakee Nursery.
Thanks for taking the time to learn a little more about Kankakee Nursery!