Employee Spotlight: Steve Ramsay

Steve Ramsay

Job Title: 
General Manager Pennsylvania Facilities

Time with Star® Roses and Plants: 
29 years

Autumn Reprise

Q: Can you share how you got your start at Star® Roses and Plants and your path to your current role as General Manager? 

A: A friend let me know of an opportunity in late 1994. I interviewed and was hired in February of 1995. Over the years I’ve had the opportunity to work in various production roles for The Conard-Pyle Company/Star® Roses and Plants, including Production Manager of a 100-acre container finishing farm, Propagation Manager of our 12-acre propagation facility, and Production Manager for our bare root rose operation in California’s Central Valley. Those production roles led me to my current position as General Manager of Pennsylvania Facilities for Star® Roses and Plants.

Q: What is one thing about your role that you enjoy?

A: I love working with the team responsible for the initial buildup of new plant introductions. I also really enjoy interacting with grower partners, Territory Managers, and customers to help resolve production issues.

Q: We’re lucky to work with a product that is beautiful and alive: plants! Can you speak to how that affects you and the way you do your work? 

A: I was giving a tour through the greenhouse with Jacques Ferare and a group of plant breeders. As we walked past a large block of 15c roses in bloom, they stopped and commented about how beautiful the roses were and asked if they could take some pictures. I was surprised because, at the same time, I was thinking we needed to get those plants trimmed for shipment and I was annoyed it hadn’t happened yet. So, I always try and appreciate the beautiful plants we grow. If I get stressed at work I like to walk through the greenhouse, evaluation fields, or demonstration garden to clear my head and keep things in perspective.

Q: It’s hard to choose a favorite plant, but what is one that you love right now?  

A: Hydrangea quercifolia. I love the bloom, fall color, and exfoliating bark. It provides interest in all four seasons.

Q: With all the trends that have come and gone over the years is there one trend or plant that you wish would have taken off and stuck?

A: I can’t think of a trend that did not stick, but one trend I wish we had focused on earlier is sustainability. We have a great internal team working on sustainability now, and I am happy this has become a large focus for Star® Roses and Plants. On the production side, we constantly evaluate how we can reduce our carbon footprint through reducing energy consumption, improving irrigation efficiency, and recycling.

Q: Is there anything about the horticulture industry that continues to surprise you?

A: From the grower side, it always is amazing to me how helpful other growers are when I reach out with questions about a production issue.

Q: What’s one piece of advice you’ve received or one thing you’ve learned from working in the horticulture industry? 

A: Once in a while you can get shown the light, in the strangest of places if you look at it right…

The 25th Anniversary of The Knock Out® Rose is coming up in 2025. Do you have a personal Knock Out® story? Why do you think it has been so revolutionary?

A: My Mom and Dad were avid gardeners. I would always give them any new plants we introduced to plant in their gardens. When they grew out the original Knock Out® rose, neighbors would stop by frequently to inquire about the interesting, beautiful new roses. In turn, my dad would call me to see if I could get him a Knock Out® for whoever had stopped by to compliment the roses. I don’t remember him asking for a plant other than Knock Out®. The color and length of bloom, the ease of growing, and resistance to common rose issues is what led to the popularity of the Knock Out® family. Many thanks to William Radler!

Q: When you’re not working, what do you like to do for fun? 

A: Container gardening, listening to music, reading, playing with our 2 dogs (really, just trying to tire them out!) spending time with family and friends, and rooting for the Philadelphia sports teams.