Sandy Stein has spent nearly his entire adult working-life in the nursery industry. Graduating from the University of Florida in 1980 with a degree in Ornamental Horticulture, the nursery was first opened in 1981. Of course, the industry looked very different then, and the nursery reflected it. After Hurricane Andrew, Sandy left the industry for five years, returned to school at the University of Miami and got a Master’s degree in Mental Health Counseling, and practiced in community mental health before returning to an industry, that simply would not release its grip on his soul.
The new iteration of the nursery, now owned by Sandy and his wife and partner, Robin, looked very different than the one before Andrew. In its new version, the plant varieties were simply grown to fill Robin’s existing customer’s needs, with Queen Palms and Phoenix roebeleniis. With the Great Recession and its effect on the existing customer base, The Jungle Nursery Inc. was forced to evaluate how it was going to survive. Being a therapist, you sometimes have to use those reflection skills that you teach others, and apply them to changes that affect your own life. A very important life lesson Sandy’s has learned is, “don’t put all your eggs in one, or too few baskets”. Today, as the nursery is in a constant state of flux, new varieties are being brought along while others, for any number of reasons, are dropped. The same can be said for its customers; having great customers is very important. The nursery always strives to operate with the highest degree of integrity and those are the types of customers we want to be doing business as well.
Sandy came to a point years ago, when he felt it was time to give back to the industry which afforded him the great life he had.
He became a Board member of the FNGLA (Florida Nursery Growers and Landscape Association) and eventually served as president at both the local and state levels. Amazing things happen when you give back. After years of service in the industry, Sandy was asked and participated in Class VII of WLIANR (The Wedgworth Leadership Institute for Agriculture and Natural Resources), a University of Florida endowed leadership program or, as he calls it, “The greatest thing that has ever happened to me, aside from my family”.
Robin has spent most of her adult working life in the nursery industry as an account representative. She actually met Sandy through a mutual friend (and it’s been all downhill ever since…just kidding). Robin’s original customers were primarily in California and the reincarnation of the nursery after Hurricane Andrew was used to supply those customers, whom she had been brokering plants to.
Robin is a seasoned professional in sourcing whatever plant material our customers need that we do not grow ourselves, and in procuring and organizing logistics. Using these skills during the crucial transition as the economy collapsed, has been critical to our survival, and now its advancement. Robin’s greatest pleasure beyond our business is her family, including our five grandchildren. She is best reached via cellphone, and the noise you hear in the background may very likely be our granddaughter giggling her way through Disney World.
Jackie joined The Jungle Nursery Inc. as an account representative in September of 2014, and now is a genuine multi-hat wearing person, despite having had just a small amount of experience working in the nursery industry. Though her plant knowledge originally was limited, her customer service skills were outstanding, and she has since become quite the plant-geek. Jackie is fluent in Spanish and serves our Spanish only customers. Jackie’s earlier years working were spent behind the scenes in the media industry working in production and operations.