Tory Schwope has an audacious plan.
The founder and CEO of DCA Outdoor wants to create a national supply solution for the production and distribution of trees.
His company moved closer to that goal by acquiring two nurseries, Fishback Nursery in Banks, Ore. — about 25 miles from Portland — and Valley Hill Nurseries in Springfield, Ky.
The deal with Fishback finalized on June 29. The nursery will be renamed Schwope Brothers Tree Farms. DCA Outdoor and Valley Hill reached a mutual option agreement, with the deal set to close in the near future.
“These are two great operations, each with a long, storied history,” Schwope said of the Fishback and Valley Hill sites. “Both have in common a retiring ownership, which provides an opportunity for forward-thinking production leaders to join our team. We’re going to continue to build on what they started 40 years ago.”
Founded in 2016, DCA Outdoor is the parent company of nine tree production, distribution and retail companies throughout the Midwest — and now the West Coast, with the acquisition of Fishback Nursery. DCA Outdoor is headquartered in Kansas City, Mo., and employs about 500 staff members.
Schwope said the nursery industry is “extraordinarily fragmented,” with many of the vendors being family owned. Schwope saw an opportunity to integrate a supply chain under one umbrella company.
“I looked at it and said, ‘We could really change the game of distribution in the event we’re able to professionalize a number of these production nurseries, focus their systems and processes and production lines on supply and distribution,’” Schwope said.
Also, most nurseries don’t have a clear succession plan, leaving them susceptible to closure once the owner retires or dies. In the case of Fishback Nursery, DCA Outdoor is a vendor, and Schwope established a good relationship with brothers Keith and Dan Fishback, who opened their nursery in 1978.
“Tory is very focused on growing a quality product, developing markets and filling the market with trees that people want,” Keith Fishback added. “I think we’re like-minded. He’s energetic and not afraid to work.”
Each nursery and distribution center under DCA Outdoor operates on its own, while the central office in Kansas City provides support and guidance. Schwope said his intent is to give each brand ownership of the outcomes in its facility.
“We’re talking about live plants — it’s a not a controlled environment. It’s still farming. The idea was how we could create the support without wrecking the small business, family dynamic culture of a lot of these companies,” he said.
DCA Outdoor has seen a flurry of growth and development since its incorporation two years ago. Last December, Schwope moved into the CEO role, while Bill Marden was named president. Marden previously was CEO of KAT Wholesale Outdoor, which is part of the DCA Outdoor family.