Mar24_5 Minutes With ... Derek Ellis

March 2024
5 Minutes With … Derek Ellis By Teresa McPherson

Derek Ellis is CEO of Ellis Home & Garden, a family-owned and -operated garden center.

Derek Ellis is CEO of Ellis Home & Garden, a family-owned and -operated garden center with locations in Louisiana and East Texas.

What made you choose horticulture as a career?

I suppose I was born into it, but we all have a choice when it comes to our careers. Our family has been in the retail business since the late 1800s, starting with red clay pottery manufacturing and evolving into our current business, Ellis Home & Garden. My parents raised me to prioritize family, and with that came the importance of our family legacy and a business spanning five generations. I loved working at the store when I was young, and seeing the company grow and expand was a passion of mine. I’ve witnessed this same passion in my children when working in the business this past year and realize that retail is simply in our blood.

What is the most rewarding part of your job?

I love watching our team make a plan, set goals and see the plan come to fruition. Our company is too large for one individual to run, so watching a group of individuals come together as a team and accomplish things bigger than any one person could do is a rewarding part of my job.

What keeps you up at night?

Not much at all! Over the years, I’ve seen the ups and downs of business cycles and realized that good times usually follow bad times and vice versa. Stressing during the bad times won’t make them pass any more quickly, and chasing perfection during the good times will only steal your joy. Focus on what we can control and don’t stress about the rest! If you have a good plan and a good team, and execute in a timely manner, you will succeed!

If you weren’t in this profession, what would you be doing?

I would be in investments and heavily involved with the stock market. I’ve come to love numbers and reports! I think it’s because after decades of studying numbers I see stories and patterns in the reports, allowing me to make better judgments about upcoming patterns in business. This has been particularly useful with investing in the stock market and has become a sort of part-time job of mine!

What’s something few people know about you?

Few people know that I’m a father of triplets — three boys, age 9 — and one girl, age 10. Having four kids under the age of 2 was a challenging part of my life to say the least, and running a business during this period was very difficult. Thanks to tremendous support from my parents, grandparents and sister, we were able to make it to the other side and prepare the sixth generation to lead our family business.

Favorite plant to grow? Why?

I love growing vegetables and fruit in our garden — it reminds me of my childhood and watching a small seedling develop to produce something great. It is an awesome experience, especially when my kids are involved.

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Teresa McPherson

Teresa McPherson is the managing editor of Lawn & Garden Retailer. Contact her at [email protected].