Hall Of Fame Inductees
The individuals nominated should have made a significant impact or positive influence that assures the future of our industry in the lives of generations to come.
Once nominated, an individual’s biography and photo are updated on the site, and he or she is placed in the polls for voting. At the end of the year the committee takes into consideration the votes and decides which candidates are inducted.
- Person with integrity and passion
- Minimum 20 years in industry
- Someone who has developed or invented new technology
- Has made contributions that resulted in change
- Contributed to mankind’s needs in his field
- Provided education and encouragement with self-sacrifice
- Changed the industry
Mckenzie "Ken" Cook
Ken’s life story as it relates to the Green Industry has been the classic entrepreneur’s dream: a combination of family, friends, vision, commitment, courage, conviction, hardship, struggle, success, and happiness. His passion and philosophy in life and business has always been people first, concept second, and product third ...
ALL, while never compromising on quality.
From 1970 to 1976, Ken was the president of Nurseryland Garden Centers, which was founded by Butch Collins. Ken directed the store expansion as it grew from four stores to more than twenty stores—thus becoming the second largest garden center chain in the United States. The in-house management training program was called the University of Nurseryland and they were able to train more than 60 individuals to become California certified nurserymen over a five year period. Nurseryland Garden Centers was owned by the then public conglomerate, Intermark Inc.
In the fall of 1976, Ken resigned his position at Nurseryland Garden Centers to pursue a newly-formulated retail concept with Jim Hines called The Growing Grounds. For the next three years, from 1977 to 1980, Ken and Tom Ewing expanded The Growing Grounds by building and opening eight garden centers. Their unique concept included five product and merchandising categories:
- Cook’s Corner – gourmet cookware, coffee and bulk food products
- Garden Party – a complete line of paper and party goods
- Greenskeeper – private label dry goods
- Country Flowers – complete florist, houseplants
- Growing Grounds – which held 20% of the container and bedding plants in mass that represented 80% of the green good sales
This unusual retail concept gained national notoriety and was sold to Nurseryland Garden Centers in the fall of 1980.
From 1980 to 1989, Ken partnered with Norm Osborne and Tom Ewing to start a series of three limited partnerships called Springtime Growers. The company acquired Greentree Nursery of Phoenix, Arizona, and Oregon Garden Products and soon became one of the largest growers of flowering color and container/boxed materials in the United States.
In the fall of 1989, Ken had resigned his position and retired—but the retirement only lasted for six months. It was at that point Ken was contacted by a good friend, Gary Bishop, whom was a major participant in the Christmas tree industry at the time. Gary suggested that Ken should consider a “time and financial” commitment related to growing and selling Christmas trees; in the summer of 1991, he did just that by making the decision to start Signature Christmas Trees.
In the spring of 1998, Ken was approached by Color Spot Nurseries regarding their desire to acquire the company, which they did, renaming it Color Spot Christmas Trees. Ken was named the president and CEO. His chartered mission was to complete a major consolidation of the Christmas tree industry. Shortly thereafter, Color Spot Christmas Trees acquired both Fraser Fir Company and Happy Holiday Tree Farm of North Carolina, thereby becoming the largest grower and seller of Christmas trees in the United States. In 2001, Color Spot opted to sell the business back to Ken on a discounted basis. After re-acquiring the company in the spring of 2002, Ken changed the name to McKenzie Farms. In 2014, McKenzie Farms purchased Silver Mountain of Sublimity, Oregon, the third largest Christmas tree grower in the Northwest.
Today, McKenzie Farms is a family endeavor. Ken’s youngest daughter, Caroline Cook Anderson, is the president and COO. His son, Thomas Cook, is the vice president of sales and marketing. Ken’s son-in-law, John Anderson, is the vice president of production. Ken remains the coach, cheerleader, chairman of the board, and CEO. McKenzie Farms is now the second largest grower and shipper of Christmas trees in the United States. Currently they farm on 10,000 acres in Oregon, own 8,000,000 trees, and ship 800,000 trees annually.
Ken believes that life’s encounters, both good and bad, are the rungs on the ladder to success. As we are ascending, we meet people who play important roles in influencing our journey. Ken’s life has been blessed with friends and mentors who have enriched him. While no one’s life is without challenges, heartache, and struggle, Ken knows that with every setback, we get a chance to stop, reevaluate, and select a better course. God has blessed Ken with a simple approach to life: give and you shall receive, never compromise on quality, and if it isn’t fun don’t do it!