Jim Snyder is an outdoorsman with a great big green thumb; a man most comfortable and understanding of nature and its great bounty of plants, flowers and greenery.
It’s a good thing, too, as he is the CEO of Riverbend Nursery, LLC, formerly Riverbend Nursery, Inc. Jim founded Riverbend Nursery, Inc. in 1984 and served as its president for more than 30 years. When the company was acquired by Superior Street Partners, a private equity firm, Jim stayed on to run the show and to see that the company that he founded and worked hard to build would still flourish and grow.
Jim holds a BS in Horticulture-Business Management from Iowa State, and has worked hard to educate himself and master his business. Overseeing a magnificent 100 acres in Riner, Va., in the beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains where Riverbend Nursery is located certainly takes some serious expertise.
Jim’s 30 plus years of experience have situated Riverbend Nursery as one of the premier wholesale landscaping companies in the entire Mid-Atlantic region.
LXCouncil: How has the acquisition by Superior Street Partners affected your business?
Jim: It’s had a minimal effect on day to day operations, they’re very hands off. In fact, they rarely – if ever – get involved with or interfere with what we do here. It’s why they bought the company, they wanted US. They kept the whole management team intact. The whole idea was that they wanted a well-run, established business that generates a good profit, one that could take care of and operate itself.
LXCouncil: Can you tell me a little bit about your main market? How do you operate in the wholesale landscaping business? Do you do any retail at all?
Jim: We are strictly a wholesale grower and we operate with two distinct arms of the business. In the first arm, the largest, we sell outdoor landscaping plants to commercial entities and retailers, like retail plant outlets, as well as to contractors. This wing makes up 60-70% of our business. The other side of the business is focused on growing Green Roof products. We‘ve done a little over 200 projects with them so far encompassing well over 900,000 square feet.
(ED NOTE: Green Roofs – from Live Roof, LLC – are a unique, environmentally friendly landscaping system designed to enhance building rooftops. Here is a link to a story about a fantastic Green Roof project that Riverbend undertook for Harrah’s Cherokee Casino & Hotel: http://www.greenroofs.com/content/apr-LiveRoof-052212.htm)
LXCouncil: Has there been an instance or experience with your involvement in a peer group that has helped you grow as a leader?
Jim: Absolutely. I would say every meeting I attended at LXC adds to my personal growth as a leader. When I go I can voice all the issues I face on a daily basis. I have found that all management has common issues and experiences that they can share, whether you’re an architect, a landscaper, a banker – it doesn’t matter. Just sharing experienced perspective helps my business.
LXCouncil: Can you say how this experience has helped Riverbend Nursery flourish or has it helped you as a leader?
Jim: Immediately it has helped me and my business. I have only been with LXC for less than 6 months, now, and already it has opened up resources for me. It has helped me with personal coaching with employees. It has helped me attract new employees, with recruiting, with ways to recruit I’d never thought of before. These meetings are already paying off.
LXCouncil: Tell us what separates Riverbend Nursery from the rest of the market?
Jim: As a whole, our location within the Mid-Atlantic region is strategically and ideally placed and it gives us an advantage. We can furnish 4 or 5 regions as a superior grower from here, our quality of plants is superior, and we can market as such on the plant side. On the Green Roof side of the business, we are growers and have been for 30 years. So we offer expertise and a diversity of design that no others can in the Mid-Atlantic.