Otto Kaufmann’s father was a 12-year-old German boy who emigrated to the U.S., became a U.S. citizen, and landed on the shores of the Philippine islands as commanded by General Douglas McArthur. His father married a Filipina, joined the civil service, and chose to remain in the Philippines where he served as a U.S. diplomat.
A story Otto related was just having graduated from high school where he studied at a private military academy, Otto decided he wanted to be an engineer. However, his math grades were not good, so he took a placement exam which suggested that he take up agriculture. When he mentioned his change in course to his father, he stills remembers the look of joy on his dad’s face, as his dad had always hoped he and his son could someday start a nursery of their own.
Just as Otto completed his studies in Agriculture from the University of the Philippines, his father passed away at an early age. Otto and his siblings moved to Massachusetts where Otto worked as a grower for a nursery from 1968 to 1975. Then he decided to start his own business, which consisted mainly of Gesneriad liners, as well as perennials that he planted in numerous home landscapes.
He later moved to the Florida Keys where he ran a resort from 1981 to 1985 — what he calls the best four-year vacation of his life. Otto then joined a national seed company located in Chicago until he was recruited by a major tissue culture company located in Apopka, Florida. He later left that company and started his own nursery in Florida here he grew outdoor crops as well as having a tissue culture lab.
In 1990, he moved on to a large grower who produced living tropical Christmas trees. Otto’s responsibilities, aside from marketing the grown plants, were numerous travels to Asia where he was instrumental in the design and purchase of ornaments that adorned the trees.
In 2002, during a show in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, Otto was hired by the Lamberts and has been with them ever since. He has worked his way up to the position of National Accounts Manager where he calls on key Lambert accounts. In short, he is one of the key points of contact for most growers the company deals with. He represents the company at numerous trade shows throughout the country. According to Otto, working for Lambert is and has been the best job he has ever had.