November 15, 2008
By Allan Dennis

PAO Horticultural is a business that has achieved great success by serving a niche market.

Company president Paul Offierski says the business has continually re-invented itself over the past number of years. It has become known for its selection of mature specialty plants, achieved a positive reputation for removing and transplanting large specimen trees and is successfully marketing the company’s newest attraction, custom-made statuary.

Located on Trafalgar Road in the Milton area, PAO cultivates 125 acres that contain some of the largest and most unique tree specimens found anywhere. Anyone wanting instant gratification for their landscaping requirements can find it at PAO.
Paul notes that what his company offers is not often available in the industry. “It is not our ambition to be all things to all people, but rather to offer a unique selection that will meet specific needs,” says PAO’s president.

It can be difficult to determine the value of PAO’s products. “What is a 60-year-old Japanese maple worth?” asks Paul. “We found out that it’s about $28,000, because that it what we sold one for.” Many other mature trees go for around $10,000.

ATV rides

A number of Paul’s clients are landscape architects or contractors who bring their clients to PAO, where they can select the exact specimen they want for their home. “Our yard was built to allow complete access to our inventory of plants,” says Paul. Customers can jump aboard one of many ATVs available and browse the acreage to seek just the right plant for them. “Many customers enjoy the opportunity to take their time and select the exact tree that will be placed in their property,” says Paul.
A great deal of effort was put into mulching the PAO property. Paul said he worked mulch into the ground to depths of six feet in order to provide the best plant health.

In business for 30 years, Paul has a long history with Landscape Ontario. He remembers one of the most influential people for him was Neil Vanderkruk of Connon Nurseries/NVK Holdings, an honourary lifetime member of LO. “He has an unbelievable sense of this industry,” says Paul. “He taught me a great deal about the how the business operates.”

When it comes to moving large trees, PAO has both the equipment and expertise. “If people find themselves faced with plantings that are simply in the way of new construction, or the city has told you that a plant must be kept and remain unharmed, we can help,” says Paul. One recent job involved a 140-ton beech tree that had to be moved because of a construction project. “Many people today don’t want to see mature trees destroyed, so they will pay well to have them re-located,” says Paul. This portion of the business continues to see more and more demand.

Unique statuary

Another new area of interest for PAO is a unique line of statuary. There are numerous items displayed on site and the company also offers custom orders. The selection of art provides some of the most creative and unique statues available anywhere in Ontario. While touring the grounds of PAO, Paul showed Horticulture Review two statues that were purchased by a client and ready for shipping to his home. Each piece was sold at $100,000.

Paul has his pieces made in China. They may be made to order, and clients may choose to purchase the sculptures or rent them, a growing trend.

After hosting a recent open house for the public, Paul is looking at expanding into the area of retail sales.

It’s all part of the re-invention process for PAO Horticultural.

Caption: Paul Offierski with a custom-order statue valued at $100,000.