George Watt Park
George Watt Park,
at the age 16, raised flowers in a corner of his mother’s garden and
sold the seeds to friends and neighbors. The George W. Park Seed Co.,
Inc. was established in 1868 and the first printed catalog was 8 pages
The company sold flower and vegetable seeds both wholesale and retail.
In 1871, Park started the publishing
Floral Gazette" whose name was changed to "Park’s Floral Magazine" in 1877. In
November of 1905, 400,296 copies of the magazine were mailed out.
In 1882, Park fulfilled a life-long dream of
college education and enrolled at Michigan State
University graduating four years later with a degree in horticulture.
He traveled extensively across the U.S., Mexico and Europe and during one of his
trips he stopped to visit a South Carolina
county home demonstration agent named Mary Barratt. Mary had written him for advice.
A relationship began, they were married in 1918, and moved to Dunedin, Florida.
climate there was not suited for the seed business, so they relocated to Greenwood,
South Carolina. When George died in 1935, his wife Mary ran the
business until his son George Barratt Park assumed the role.
Park died in 1967 and his brother William John Park took over as head of the business.
William continued until 1990 when he became Chairman of the Board and
was succeeded by his nephew, J. Leonard Park, and niece, Karen
Park Jennings. J. Leonard was succeeded as CEO and President by his sister,
the company continued to be run by the Park family but at that point it
was sold to Florida real estate executive Donald Hachenberger. In
2007, he bought the California-based Jackson & Perkins company from
Harry & David Holdings from a reported $21 million. This purchase
came at a bad economic time when nursery sales bottomed putting a strain
on their finances.4,5
On April 2,
2010, the company filed a voluntary petition for reorganization under
Chapter 11 in the U.S. Bankruptcy Court of South Carolina. In
August of 2010, the company was sold at a bankruptcy hearing for $13
million to a Chevy Chase, Maryland firm called Blackstreet Capital.4,5
George W. Park
- Legacy of Leadership
Who Owns What
Park, III in an email correspondence dated 14 Oct 2002.
Jackson & Perkins,
Park Seed Filings Reflect the Times
S.C.'s Park Seed sold for $13M at
May 31, 2016.