Like thousands of other children across the country, Jeff Stoven started his own mowing service at age 12. But unlike most kids that age, he already possessed some business acumen. He knew the importance of a catchy business name and tag line, which would eventually serve him well in his career at Bailey. Jeff was the owner and sole operator of The Lawn Ranger Grass Service: One Man and his Mower. With a name like that, who couldn’t turn down a young man looking for lawns to mow?
Jeff also got a horticulture nudge from his grandfather, who was a master gardener and doted on hybrid tea roses. When Jeff was 16, he started working summers at Bailey taking cuttings from the field, a job he kept all through high school along with his lawn service. The combination of his grandfather’s influence, running his own business, and working at Bailey solidified his career path in horticulture. He attended a horticulture trade school in Minnesota, then went to work full time as a grower at Bailey. There he worked under the tutelage of Dave Gross, who was also his boss during his high school stint.
“He is a great mentor, friend and confidant. I’ve gotten advice from him on just about anything from managing people to business strategy,” Jeff says.
He later moved to the West Coast and studied business administration at a community college and became head grower at Bailey’s operation in Yamhill, Oregon.
“I love the diversity of this industry,” he explains. “There’s diversity in people, products and opportunities. From working on spreadsheets to loading racks, or watering in the greenhouse to strategizing – it’s a fascinating industry with a lot to get excited about.”
Next, Jeff enrolled in Oregon State University where he earned an agricultural business management degree, which is an asset to his career. His education and experience have prepared him for his current role as West Coast propagation manager, overseeing three facilities in Oregon including the tissue culture lab and other propagation operations in Dayton and Yamhill.
In the fall of 2018, Bailey acquired Carlton Plants, a bareroot nursery with a 128-year history in Dayton. Jeff was tasked with performing site identities at each Oregon location and working with the teams to find the most efficient and effective way to carry out propagation. Jeff and his team have shared their experience of building brands with the Carlton team, specifically what the propagation team’s position means to branding.
It’s not often Jeff has a crabby day, but on the off chance it happens, he can easily brighten his mood by watching one of his favorite comedies, including the classic Caddyshack or the more modern Bridesmaids flick. When Jeff’s not reviewing reports or managing team meetings, he likes to hike or visit the ocean with his wife and two young daughters. On most Sundays he’s a “committed but constantly disappointed Vikings fan.” If you check back with Jeff in about 25 years, you may find him fishing, traveling to Europe, or belting out a catchy tune on a harmonica (once he learns how to play), all of which he hopes to do after his horticulture tenure comes to an end.