Started in 1957 by Dr. William McLane, Florida Aquatic Nurseries, Inc. is celebrating its 50th anniversary. Florida Aquatic Nurseries started with a dozen concrete tanks hand crafted by Bill in 1957 and grew into the largest aquarium plant producer in the US and one of the largest aquatic plant producers in the world. In the late 80s Florida Aquatic Nurseries added water garden plants to its product line and became a leader in water garden plant hybridization and production.
Bill McLane earned a PhD in ichthyology from the University of Florida and went to work in applied fisheries research for the Florida Game and Fish Commission. Having a dream to start growing aquatic plants he retired and moved to Ft. Lauderdale in 1955. Two years later the dream was a reality.
Bill spent many hours talking to fish farmers in Florida about this risky idea of starting an aquatic nursery that produced plants only. At that time most aquarium plants were wild collected and sold through the fish farmers. Encouraged by Al Greenberg of Everglades Exotic in Tampa, Bill started small. He bought a small piece of property on the outskirts of Ft. Lauderdale and built a few dozen concrete vats by hand to grow his aquarium plants in. A few customers were willing to take an aquarium plants only shipment and the business was off to a start. He built his reputation on quality and dependability, something impossible to obtain with wild collected aquatic plants. Over his desk was a quote that stated his business philosophy. It stated, “Quality is like buying oats. If you want good clean oats you must pay a fair price. If you want oats that have gone through the horse – that comes cheaper!”
The business grew steadily so in 1972 Bill decided to retire. His sons, Brad and Bruce became the next generation of owners for Florida Aquatic Nurseries and the business grew dramatically from 1977 to 2000. The aquarium plant business expanded from 6 full time employees in 1977 to over 100 in 2000. There were no greenhouses in 1977 and over 100,000 square feet today. The company flourished.
In 2004 Bruce retired and Brandon, Brad’s son joined the company as Vice president. Brandon previously earned a degree in Horticulture from University of Florida and worked as a retail nursery manager for 3 years in the Atlanta area before joining the company.
Florida Aquatic Nurseries has grown more than Bill McLane would have ever imagined when he started his small aquarium plant business in 1957. Brandon hopes to accomplish similar success as he directs the business for the next 50 years. Already, the website has become state of the art with a large amount of useful information. Numerous new varieties of aquatic plants are being produced. Many new waterlily hybrids and aquarium plant cultivars original to Florida Aquatic Nurseries are being developed and should be released within the upcoming years. Using the same business philosophy that Bill McLane adhered to, Florida Aquatic Nurseries sees a bright future ahead!