It may just be in Paul Hammer’s genetic makeup. Immersed in Horticulture since birth, it comes as no surprise that he has embraced the cultivation of plants and flowers. Growing up in West Lafayette, Indiana, with a father who was a professor of floriculture at Purdue University, Hammer says he developed an enjoyment of plants and the industry at an early age. His father, Dr. P. Allen Hammer, often took his young son with him to visit Indiana greenhouses and attend horticultural functions. A natural inclination towards plants and a flair for business led Hammer to start his own landscaping company at the age of 12. He later majored in Horticultural Production and Marketing, minored in Agribusiness Management at Purdue and is now the research and development manager for Dümmen USA, Inc.
What are some of your favorite recollections about your experience at Purdue University?
I had a great opportunity to run the landscaping company I started in middle school while attending Purdue University. I really enjoyed immediately putting to use the concepts and skills I learned in the classroom and seeing the outcome. My junior year, as part of my program at Purdue University, I participated in a six month internship as part of my work experience requirement at a greenhouse in Oregon. This was a great opportunity to see the country and obtain hands-on learning. I gained experience in production, sales, distribution, and even maintenance. Also, at Purdue I enjoyed the many opportunities to visit the local farms, orchards, agronomy farms. These visits further reinforced the classroom lessons.
What did you do after graduation?
Upon graduating, I continued to grow my landscaping company for the next two years and got married. I then accepted a position as a key account sales representative at Clackamas Greenhouses outside Portland, Oregon, and my wife, young daughter, dog, and I headed west. Nearly one year later I accepted a position as the Regional Sales Manager for the western thirteen states with Dümmen USA (German flower breeder). I managed this territory for six and a half years until most recently when I became Dummen’s Research and Development manager and relocated yet again, this time to Dummen’s USA headquarters in Columbus, OH. This time another daughter joined us.
Describe your current career, its development and the path that took you there.
I currently am part of a team which each year brings to market hundreds of new products and successfully markets and position them across the entire gardening industry. I have learned from each opportunity I have had over the years which I feel has given me a more rounded view of the entire home and garden industry. My path has been back and forth across the country, sometimes stressful, and sometimes exciting. My key has been to excel at each opportunity. This is noticed and new opportunities are presented.
What is a typical work day like and what are your primary responsibilities?
No day is typical. I work from our office about 30%, home office 20%, and travel 50% of my time. The seasonality of our industry effects how I spend my time on a monthly basis. I focus on three areas – product development, product support, and key account management. The product development is a large portion of my responsibilities which requires me to link our breeding team to our sales team. An example of a development project is the work I do with the new HGTV home plants brand which Dümmen USA is involved with. Here I provide technical support and have even been interviewed for a national TV special on the new brand. I am also the production manager and head grower for our major shows such as California Spring Trials and the OFA short course. I work extensively to grow more than 400 different plants in perfect show quality for one specific show week. Product support responsibilities involve writing and publishing culture guides, giving online and live cultural presentations, and visiting growers across North America. Key account management has me overseeing the relationship of a customer who has 10 sites in 3 states. This helps me retain the sales skills I learned in my previous position and continue important relationships.
What advice would you offer to others thinking about a career in Horticulture?
There are many great opportunities in this industry. Travel, people, food, and gardens full of flowers are part of my daily life. The industry is global and has enormous opportunities for the most adventurous person. Not only is the industry global, it is also diverse. There are endless options as growers, product reps, buyers, construction, public gardens, marketing, etc. Regardless of one’s horticulture endeavors the industry has taught me that one must be proficient and knowledgeable in a wide array of skills.
Edited by Erin Lane