Ken Natorp is chairman of W.A. Natorp Corp.
In 1916, my grandfather, William A. Natorp, a German immigrant and horticulture student, placed an advertisement in a Cincinnati flower shop window for landscape services. In a short time, he realized he could not get the quality of plants he needed for his landscape clients, and made the decision to grow his own, creating Natorp’s Nursery.
He began transforming the gardens and landscapes of Greater Cincinnati and created devoted customers based on his meticulous manner of transforming their yards and gardens.
So began a true immigrant success story and what many in the area now know as the most recognizable name in Cincinnati-area gardening. Today, Natorp’s is the largest grower in the region. We raise over 1 million plants annually including annuals, perennials, trees and shrubs in our Mason nursery. We’re proud that we maintain a rigorous selection of plants. We have taken the experience of growing for nearly 100 years and combined it with innovation to advance the company into the future.
As the home to more than 75,000 farms, Ohio boasts agriculture as a top industry. One in seven Ohioans is employed in an agriculture-related job. Thanks to rich soil and favorable weather conditions for crops and plants, growers like us are able to contribute over $100 billion to our state economy every year.
Unfortunately, like many in agriculture in the Buckeye State, our greatest challenge to the family legacy and tradition is the lack of workers available to help us during the critical times. When our nursery plants need attention that we cannot provide, it translates to lost profits.
Nationwide, the agricultural industry is struggling with labor shortages. According to the Partnership for a New American Economy, the lack of workers is costing American farmers over $300 million annually.
The hiring process has been challenging for us as there simply is not an abundance of American workers seeking seasonal manual labor jobs.
When we hire employees we absorb the advertising costs in seeking workers, and we also provide necessary horticultural and safety training. For these expenses to be a worthwhile investment for our business, we need the trained employee to stick with us through the season or even longer, and that just is not happening.