Tom attended University of Southern California on an ROTC Scholarship and graduated with a degree in geology. After graduation, Tom served in the Navy Submarine Service, on the USS Catfish and the USS Sea Fox, from 1966 -70. He later received an MBA in Business from California State University at Fullerton.
It could be said that Tom’s first ventures into the nursery industry were as a summer employee at Blue Hills Nursery during high school. However, he didn’t return to the business until he 1979 when he became General Manger of Village Nurseries in Brea, CA. He later became president/CEO and Managing General Partner. Tom had the aspiration and vision to see the opportunities the industry had to offer and set out to grow the business. The first expansion occurred when the first of the company’s landscape centers opened in Brea. In 1985 the company continued to grow with the expansion of growing yards and a landscape center in Del Mar, CA. With the acquisition of Miya Wholesale Nursery in 1989, the size of the company was doubled and landscape centers were opened in Buena Park, Huntington Beach and Orange, CA. In 1993 Village ventured into the Northern CA region with the establishment of growing grounds and a landscape center in Galt. The next year Village Nurseries began selling and marketing to the retail and big box store markets. In 1997 Village entered into a long term lease agreement for 240 acres of growing grounds in Sacramento solidifying Village’s presence in the Northern California sales markets. In 2000 the company acquired a 200-acre parcel in Riverside county known as Steele Valley and also expanded market share by adding Lowe’s and Home Depot as customers. 2002 saw the acquisition of a 233 acre Pauma Valley property in Northern San Diego County. Tom’s business acumen and innovative approach was key to the company’s growth and diversification.
Notable Contributions to the Green Industry: Tom joined the NGA in 1998 and became NGA Director in 1999. He then served as Vice President of the NGA in 2000-2001 and as President during 2002 until his passing in early 2003. During his tenure along with Robert Crudup he was instrumental in the passage of SB204 which provided for the state to appropriate $2M for the control and eradication of RIFA. He was also actively involved in lobbying for the federal government on H2A immigration reform and for additional funding for Glassy Winged Sharpshooter (GWSS) programs which resulted in $5M of funding to compensate nurseries for complying with the regulations to control the spread of GWSS. Tom also started the NGA theft Committee to be headed by Terry Cook of Village Nurseries to deter and/or prosecute those involved in agricultural crimes.
Tom enjoyed spending time with his family and friends. He was active in several sports including golf, fishing, boating, snow and water skiing. He and Diane were married for 38 years. Their family includes a daughter, Mary, and son, David, and his wife, Kristen, and their three sons, Ryan, Lucas, and James. Tom passed away in February 2003 while skiing, one of the activities he enjoyed most.