Brenda Kubik has been a key member of Plantpeddler’s team for 33 years. When she started at the Cresco, Iowa-based operation, she wanted a part-time job that was flexible with her family obligations. She knew nothing about plants, but that was about to change.
“I didn’t think I’d ever be that interested in horticulture and certainly didn’t think I’d still be working here over three decades later,” Kubik says. “I started with planting and spacing potted flowering plants in the afternoon a few days a week. As I worked in the greenhouse, I learned more and more and loved it. As the seasons change, the crops change — so you’re getting to do something different every few months. I also find talking to satisfied customers so rewarding.”
“Brenda has always been the type of person who wants to share her knowledge about plants and growing, even on the golf course!,” notes co-owner Rachel Gooder.
In 2001, Kubik was able to go full-time when Plantpeddler expanded and started its Young Plant division. She was promoted to Head Propagator and Head Grower, roles she’s still in today. Mike Gooder, co-owner of Plantpeddler, says that “promoting Brenda was an easy decision given her work ethic and dedication to quality.”
”Brenda and I have grown a lot of crops together,” Plantpeddler’s facility manager Jason Sbiral adds. “Some have been perfect, others not so much, but each time we have gained knowledge to perfect it for the next time.”
“We’re working with far more genetics and breeders than when I started. New varieties are being bred that allow us to pull full bench runs at shipping. New technology is so helpful to efficiently produce quality plants, too. We added three ISO robots last year which increased the consistency and quality of the rooted cuttings we grow,” Kubick says.
“As we know, growing plants Is challenging,” she continues. “Part of learning sometimes includes failing before figuring out how to consistently be successful. Mike is really good at teaching us how to produce crops. Then we dig deeper to find all the culture information we need for the crops we are growing and how to apply it to the environment of our greenhouse. This job is really about continual improvement.”
Looking ahead to retirement, Kubik has a goal to train the next group of Plantpeddler leaders to take over her role and transfer what she’s learned during her decades of experience. “Every time I say I’m going part-time, I find myself here for the same number of hours anyway,” Kubik says. “It’s my job, I love it and I always want to make sure my crops finish at 100 percent.”