Any regular reader of this column knows that I have love in my heart for family-run businesses. Warner’s itself is now on its fourth generation of family members working at the nursery with my three sons helping out when school’s not in session.
Today, I want to tell you about another family business out of Salem Oregon that we’ve been working with during the holidays for many years – it’s the Stone clan that grows and ships our Christmas trees to us each year.
Mike Stone was just 13 when he got started in the business. He purchased his first piece of property and paid for it by harvesting the trees on the land. When he got married, his bride joined the business and Mike ultimately passed the company down to his three sons. The company was renamed BTN of Oregon after the first names of those sons – Ben, Tyler and Nathan.
But there’s another reason I love the operations at BTN besides their being another awesome family business. It’s because their trees fly.
I’m not kidding.
BTN trees spend the first three years of their lives either in a seed bed or a greenhouse, after which they are transplanted and grow outside for several more years. They are sheared during that time to create the perfect taper shape and the lower 6 inches of tree limbs are removed by hand in order to create a “handle” on every tree, essentially the part you’ll put in a tree stand many years later.
It’s a nice quiet life right up until they are shipped. Then crews go into the fields to cut trees for upcoming orders and this happens:
Yes, that’s a flying Christmas tree. It’s expensive, but the Stones say using helicopters is the cleanest, most efficient way to get the trees to the staging areas where they are baled and loaded onto trucks. About 1,500 trees an hour can be moved using the helicopters.
Despite the many forest fires that have devastated the west coast, the trees at BTN have not been affected and we’ll be getting our shipment of Douglas, Noble and Nordman firs next week.
Warner’s will be offering both cut and live, potted trees this year. We have pre-ordering, delivery, and disposal services available. We look forward to seeing you and helping you find that special tree. Happy holidays – from the Stone and Warner families to yours.