Mr. Gary Kinney

1994 Recipient of the Arthur T. Potts Award


Mr. Gary Kinney

Gary Kinney was born on August 6, 1937 and raised on a small dairy farm in Black River Falls in northeastern Wisconsin. His most memorable event as a youngster was standing on the roadside watching German P.O.W.’s being transported back and forth to work in the pea and sweet corn fields. While in Taylor High School, he was very active in the PEA, serving as the secretary and treasurer in 1953, president in 1954, and a member of the judging team in 1955. After graduating from high school in June of 1955, Gary went to work for Jerry Kasian Landscape Contractor in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Within one year, he was promoted to superinten­dent to oversee mostly commercial projects. He supervised major landscape projects such as Interstate-94 from Minnesota to Illinois. Gary was drafted in the U.S. Army in January 1961 and, after artillery training, was shipped to Germany to patrol the Czechoslovakian border till January 1963. He attained the rank of Sergeant E-5 as a forward observer and was honorable dis­charged in January 1963. In the spring of 1963, he rejoined Jerry Kasian Landscape Contractor (Green Acres Nursery) as an estimator and sales person, then served as the firm’s secretary. During this time the nursery industry was booming. Later he joined the nation’s largest landscape firm, Sweeney Brothers, Inc. of Johnson Creek, Wisconsin and rose to the third ranking individual in the company by 1967. During the eight years he served with Sweeney, Gary started Star Nursery, Inc. which was a 160 acre balled and burlapped operation in Decatur, Michigan. Gary married the former Beverly M. Mueller of Port Washington, Wisconsin, in 1965. Their two sons, Todd and Chad, were born in 1967 and 1970, respectively. In 1969, in the Milwaukee area, Gary and Beverly formed Grove Compost Company, Inc., composting and selling duck manure. The company was sold in 1977 and is still in operation today. During a fishing trip to the Lower Rio Grande Valley of Texas, Gary met Ed Bruner of Bruner Bonded Warehouse in Alamo. For a short period of time, Gary made trips from Wisconsin to the Rio Grande Valley to sell duck manure. He then purchased Bruner Bonded Warehouse in 1975 and made the Valley his home. After changing the business name to Kinney Bonded Warehouse (KBW), he was known for some time as either Mr. Bonded or Mr. Duck Manure. The nursery supply company, expanded greatly as the nursery industry grew rapidly in the late 1970’s and early 1980’s. Todd and Chad Kinney are active in the family business. Gary was instrumental in the organization of Valley Nursery Growers, Inc. and served as its secretary/treasurer for seven years between 1977 and 1984. Spearheading this effort, Gary with other nurserymen successfully lobbied for the creation of an ornamental research position at the Texas A&M University Agricultural Research and Extension Center at Weslaco in 1983. Over the last ten years, the Valley Nursery Growers has donated over $70,000 to the Texas A&M University ornamen­tal research project at Weslaco. Since then, he has fully supported the research at this Center by providing good ideas, ample supplies, sturdy structures, and grants. During his career, Gary has served on a multitude of committees and boards such as:

Horticulture United – 1977-1985
Board of Directors, Rio Grande Valley Horticultural Society, President in 1985
Board of Directors, Texas Association of Nurseryman Rgn. VII, President in 1984
Board of Directors, Texas Association of Nurseryman since 1989
Texas A&M University Agricultural Development Council since 1985
Chairman of the Ornamental Research Endowment at Texas A&M since 1991

Gary was presented the Texas Greenhouse Growers Award in 1984 by the Texas Agricultural Extension Service. As the chairman of the Ornamental Research Endowment, Gary has raised $200,000 for the Department of Horticultural Sciences at Texas A&M University, including a $50,000 personal donation. The proceeds of this Endowment, with the goal set at $1 million, will he used for research in nursery and floricultural crops. Gary has a broad knowledge in nursery production. He visits nurseries frequently, not just to promote his business, but to help nurserymen solve their problems. In addition, Gary has provided vital information and assistance to people who are entering the nursery business. Over the years, he has earned a reputation of selling good products and doing quality work, which has led his business to go national and international. He has built greenhouses in Mexico for the nursery and transplant industry, as well as doing business far out of the Valley in Virginia. As a nursery supplier, Gary understands that nurserymen spend lots of money to transport potting medium to the Valley because little is produced locally. He has been looking for a solution to reduce the nursery production costs and to give the producers a larger profit margin. About three years ago, Gary’s sharp business eyes spotted some strange weed-like plants growing in the Monte Alto area (Rio Farms). He soon learned that this new crop was kenaf and pursuing his natural curiosity a bit further, began to study the source and potential of this crop. He first secured the supply of kenaf, and then provided Texas A&M University Agricultural Research and Extension Center at Weslaco with several grants to study the feasibility of using the ground kenaf stem core as container media. After two-and-a-half years of research, Gary formed another company, K-Mix, Inc. in the summer of 1993 to produce and market this new potting media to nursery growers. K-Mix, Inc. is operat­ing at its full capacity to provide nurseries with ground kenaf and making custom mixes with kenaf as a major ingredient. This material, produced locally in the Rio Grande Valley, will save nursery and greenhouse growers in production costs, pro­vide them with a better competitive edge, and result in more profits. As the kenaf industry continues to develop and grow here in the Valley and around the globe, Gary has already claimed his place as one of those who helped make it happen. The Society recognizes Gary Kinney for his outstanding contribution to the horticultural industry in the Lower Rio Grande Valley and Texas, for his tireless effort to enhance horticultural research and education, and for his dedication to improving the quality of human life. Also, the Society honors his service during the years in office for the Rio Grande Valley Horticultural Society.