John Conroy is founder, owner and president of Fish Branch Tree Farm, Inc. in Southwest Florida. He chaired the committee for the most recent revision of Florida’s Grades & Standards for palms. The Florida Nursery, Growers and Landscape Association named Conroy their 2019 Educator of the Year.
What is the best part of your job?
Being outside and seeing the sun come up over fields of beautiful trees.
What’s your ideal Saturday?
Riding the fields, enjoying what has been accomplished through the week and planning new initiatives with my bride.
What is the biggest challenge facing the industry?
There is no single challenge. Over time the threats change but certainly economic, political and social forces are always factors. Then there are the disconnects between disciplines within the industry. And a basic challenge for many is a labor shortage.
What is the biggest challenge you’ve faced professionally?
Accepting that most people simply aren’t driven. Empathy towards those who make an honest effort. Oh yes, then there were the direct hits from hurricanes Charlie and Irma.
What would make the industry better?
Education and communication.
What’s something most people don’t know about you?
A 30-minute conversation will pretty much help you understand where I stand on most topics.
What are you most proud of?
Building a strong business and assembling a team which is committed to a high standard of performance and integrity.
What is your happy place?
Far offshore in my boat.
What would you blow your money on?
A bigger, faster boat.
Who inspires you?
I am inspired by economists who have little regard for popular opinion like Thomas Sowell.
What has the quarantine taught you?
To try to be prepared for difficult times both personally and professionally.
Formal or casual?
I am most comfortable in work clothes, much to the chagrin of my employees.
Colorful or neutral?
Colorful, or so I am told.
How do you give back?
First reward employees, then be a steward of your craft and donate time and resources to the industry and community.