Willoway Nurseries, Inc.

The Midwest's Premier Wholesale Grower!
Departments for Interns at Willoway

Interns will gain experience in all of the departments at Willoway. Depending on the length of your internship, you will spend 1-3 weeks in each department, with time allowed at the end of your internship to go back to the department that interested you the most. We feel it is important for interns to work in all of the departments at Willoway so they can put into perspective how they all work together to make this business a success. Working in each department gives interns the opportunity to discover interests and talents they may not have known they had! Below are descriptions of the main departments interns work in.



In April, 2007, Willoway completed its largest project ever- a state of the art greenhouse operation located in Huron, Ohio. This greenhouse is a 5.1 acre glass range comprised of 6 zones, open roof vents, heated concrete floors, hanging basket boomerangs, irrigation booms, three curtain systems, an Argus environmental control system, flood floors, and a Hurst Biomass Boiler system. Interns will get hands on experience with this high tech greenhouse and learn why this system is more efficient than our old greenhouses. Below are just a few pictures of what you will see when learning about the greenhouse, boiler system, and propagation techniques.

Cathy Kowalczyk, Greenhouse Manager / Corporate Vice President, will spend time
with each intern in the greenhouse to give you an in-depth understanding of how it works!


Pot-in-Pot Production

Willoway was one of the first Ohio growers to try Pot-in-Pot production—a system where container plants are grown in the ground in sunken socket pots. The biggest advantages to our pot-in-pot system are that we can produce three times as many units per acre compared to field production and PiP trees and shrubs can be sold year-round. We have over 400,000 trees and shrubs in PiP production. Interns will see the advantages to this system first-hand when working with our crews on maintenance of the PiP system.


Pest Management

Interns will work will our IPM manager, Jim Merrick, scouting for various pests and diseases. Jim may allow interns to attend monthly IPM Meetings in Lake County with him where various nursery growers gather to discuss their latest findings and procedures they are using to reduce disease and pests in their nurseries.


Phenology Garden

Jim Merrick maintains the Phenology Garden at our Long Road location in Avon, OH and our Huron Farm in Berlin Heights, OH. These gardens are part of the OSU Phenology Garden Network. The current phenology garden consists of 17 indicator plants that represent the 74 original Taxa included in the project. The objective is to condense the original plant list and still provide growing degree day information that is representative for the nursery grower to make decisions on the correct timing of insecticide applications. The use of the phenology garden helps Willoway practice IPM more consistently. Interns will gain experience in counting degree days and monitoring changes in the phenology garden.



One million gallons of water are used each day to irrigate our plant material. About 30 man-made ponds across Willoway’s property provide water for our irrigation systems. Sprinkler systems have been installed throughout the nursery for watering field production sites. Booms are very efficient in the new greenhouse to mist freshly propagated plant material. The new greenhouse is also equipped with a flood floor watering system.

23,200 hanging baskets are automatically watered on 27 boomerang pulley systems. As they pass through one end of the boomerang, a tab triggers the watering nozzle to turn on and off. We can set this system to fertilize the baskets as well. Interns will work along side our in-house maintenance staff to trouble shoot irrigation problems and learn how our system works.

Computer controlled
automatic watering boom
Greenhouse floor flooding as
part of state-of-the-art irrigation system
Excess heat is released
through retractable roof



Willoway utilizes both an annual audit and a perpetual inventory system in order to keep track of the plants in the nursery. Plants must be tracked through both the production cycle and sales cycle, and can move back and forth between these two conditions.

We utilize custom built computerized inventory tracking software in order to ensure accurate inventory reporting of the more than four million plants we have on hand at any given time. Current plants on hand must be continually evaluated and recounted due to loss from animal damage, disease, poor weather, etc., and these losses must be tracked for future planning.


Tag Room

Willoway Nurseries, Inc. is equipped with their own tagging department that makes full color picture tags. The tags can be printed with individual customers’ logos and pricing information. Interns will spend time learning how to print tags and the benefits of our tagging program



Approximately 20 Shipping docks throughout the nursery provide efficient loading of trucks for customers in the busy season. We have approximately 10 Willoway semi-trucks available for customer delivery from Avon. In the busy months, we expect to load about 25 trucks each day. So if your schedule allows you to start your internship in the spring, you’ll become an expert in our shipping department! Interns are also exposed to the “Traffic Department”, where we allocate orders to trucks, schedule load times, and assign loading docks to trucks.

Keith Balduff, Shipping Manager, is very involved with our interns each year and teaches them how to be efficient and stay on task in the shipping department.

Willoway's customer build "Soft Side" side loading trailer


Shop and Tool Room

shop Willoway has a shop on site that handles the maintenance of over 200 company vehicles, tractors, trucks, lifts, spraying equipment, loaders, and other off road nursery equipment. You will have the chance to learn the basics of preventive maintenance of equipment and troubleshooting vehicle problems from our pros in the shop and tool room.


Sales and Marketing

Our interns will spend time with our salesmen on the road visiting our customers, and with our marketing department creating promotional items. We have about 15 salespeople, each with their own distinct region of customers across the country. Sales might not be for everyone, but “if you grow it, you have to be able to sell it.” Most interns find that the sales department is much more interesting and fun than they imagined! Interns will get to see our plant material on display at customers’ garden centers. In the marketing department, interns will learn about our involvement in the Novalis program and other national brand programs we participate in and why these programs have worked for us.


Premier Plant Solutions

Three conveniently located distribution centers offer landscape contractors the option to select plant material on an “as-needed” basis or to select specific material for a certain customer. Interns will gain hands-on experience dealing with our wholesale customers on a personal level at the Avon distribution center.


Other general concepts interns will be exposed to at Willoway include: general plant maintenance, plant identification, accounts payable/receivable, sales order processing, payroll, and human resources.


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