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Teresa Matsui, founder’s daughter, named president of Matsui Nursery

On March 1, Andy Matsui celebrated his 80th birthday, and his daughter, Teresa Matsui, became Matsui Nursery’s president, according to a news release. Andy Matsui, the company founder, is now chairman of Matsui Nursery and said he’s looking forward to working just five days a week instead of his usual seven.

“What I want is for him to have fun,” said Teresa Matsui in the release. “To work with the growers, to plan our new greenhouses, to not have to hassle with problems.”

When Andy Matsui founded Matsui Nursery in 1967, he set out to grow flowers that would help make the world a more beautiful place. Headquartered in Salinas, CA, Matsui Nursery began growing orchids on a large scale in 1998 and that same year it started the nation’s first grocery retail program. It now grows millions of orchids in hundreds of varieties every year and is one of the larger potted orchid growers in the world.

While Teresa Matsui hasn’t been in the floral business since she was in high school, she has memories of working in the family’s greenhouses while attending Gonzales High School. “I hated roses. My arms would be covered with thorns,” she said. “Plus I had a completely black thumb.”

After high school, Teresa Matsui received her undergraduate degree from Harvard University and her MBA from the Kellogg School of Management, Northwestern University. She also unknowingly started a family tradition — each of her three younger siblings also graduated from Harvard.

Teresa Matsui joined Matsui Nursery last year as its chief financial officer after a long and successful career in real estate investment, hospitality management, and hotel development consulting in Minneapolis.

“I didn’t hesitate when my dad asked me to come work for Matsui Nursery,” Matsui said in the release. “I knew it was the right thing to do for him, for our employees and for our customers. My business and life experiences have prepared me to run this company for the long-term and to sustain this business as a community asset.”

Matsui said her focus in her new role as president is on high-level day-to-day operations encompassing sales, production and finance. “And whatever my dad tells me to do.”

Matsui plans to build on the fundamentals that have made the company strong. “We have an excellent and experienced team and a wonderful, high-quality product. We want to continue to be the company of choice for our customers and a great place for our employees to work.”

From the air, the company’s Salinas headquarters look like a small city. Combined with additional greenhouses in East Salinas and New Jersey, Matsui Nursery has 2.8 million square feet, or 71 acres — the equivalent of 93 football fields — of greenhouse in production.

The company employs 233 workers, including many families spanning two or three generations, providing quality jobs and expanding employment in its community. “My dad has created something here that is just a gem,” Matsui said in the release. “It really means something to our employees.”

Matsui also oversees the Matsui Foundation, founded by Andy Matsui to provide educational opportunities to underserved students in Monterey County and the Salinas Valley. In the last 10 years, the Foundation has granted $6 million in scholarships to more than 170 students in the community and pledges to give millions more. The foundation’s current focus is on scholarships for students enrolled in the innovative CSIT-in-3 program jointly offered by Hartnell College and California State University-Monterey Bay. The program awards undergraduate degrees in the high-demand field of computer science/information technology in just three years.

Matsui said that while she still has a black thumb, her work philosophy is similar to her father’s, and she plans on maintaining the strong bonds he has created with the company’s stakeholders by continuing to build a profitable and successful organization.

“You do have to look at the numbers and you have to be data driven. But you also have to ask yourself: What’s the overriding imperative? I’ve always looked at business as being a vehicle to express and manifest your personal values,” she said in the release. “What I want to do here at Matsui Nursery is honor my dad’s legacy and honor the work of the people who have been our employees — some for decades. Numbers don’t resonate with me. It’s the impact we have on people’s lives. It’s to matter in a meaningful way to the people you can touch.”