Keeping it in the family


OREGON – If there is one thing that Tyler Hagemann likes, it is getting his hands dirty.

And that is a good thing, because Hagemann, who now runs the greenhouse at Merlin’s Greenhouse & Flowers in Oregon, has to get his hands plenty dirty on a daily basis.

“I love it,” Hagemann said. “I’m finally doing what I’m supposed to be doing.”

He comes by his love of plants and flowers naturally. Tyler is the son of Merlin Hagemann, who has owned the Oregon business for 48 years.

Tyler, 29 attended Kishwaukee College after graduating from Byron High School. He said the plan was to eventually be a superintendent of a golf course, but he ended up going in another direction.

“I’m a grower – hands on,” he said. “You’re always learning, you can never be at the top of your game. There’s always new varieties coming up. Things always change.”

After graduating from Kishwaukee in 2012 with a degree in horticulture and certificates in landscape design, greenhouse management and sustainable land management, Tyler went to work in the family business. He was there about a year and a half before accepting a position as horticulture maintenance supervisor with the Oregon Park District.

But he is now back at Merlin’s applying what he has learned over the years.

“We were at the point we had no grower again,” Merlin said, and Tyler was pretty much the perfect choice.

The 11,000-square-foot greenhouse at Merlin’s is run by Tyler as Hagemann Horticulture. His father and mother, Cindy, run the retail side and sell everything Tyler grows.

 “So, he’s got his own thing,” Merlin said. “The greenhouse is his, basically.”

And in that large greenhouse, Tyler – and his one full-time and five seasonal employees – grow “hundreds” of different varieties, he said. He said they grow “pretty much” all annuals and some perennials. The big seller right now is geraniums, as well as hanging baskets.

All of this means some very long days for Tyler, but that is the way he said he likes it.

“It’s fantastic,” he said.

That’s good, because Merlin said he hopes that his daughter, Melissa, will eventually run the retail side while Tyler works the greenhouse. He said family needs to run the business, “otherwise it’s going to fail.”

“That is the long-term goal,” Merlin said. “I’ll probably be here until I can’t walk or drop over dead.”

And Tyler will keep getting his hands dirty, and looking to keep up with the changing nature of the greenhouse.

“It’s fun,” he said with a smile. “There’s tons of experimenting to do.”