Branching out


NB|AZ helps Phoenix-based nursery expand

It’s fitting that Les Blake is in the nursery business, because growth defines his company, Moon Valley Nurseries, in every sense of the word. “We specialize in growing large trees,” said Blake, who was born and raised in Phoenix as a third-generation Arizonan. He established the nursery in 1996 with just $3,000 that he had earned from operating pumpkin and Christmas tree lots. “One of the things that differentiates Moon Valley Nurseries from our competitors is the size and quality of the trees we sell,” he said. “And, we plant those trees for our customers as well and guarantee that they’ll thrive.” The company also is known for its shrubs, vines, ground cover and succulents.

In the 19 years since Moon Valley Nurseries first opened, the company has expanded from its original retail location at 7th Street and Thunderbird in Phoenix to 23 retail locations in Arizona, California, Nevada and Texas. By the end of 2015, three more retail locations will have opened. In addition, the company owns more than 2,000 acres of farmland in California and Arizona where Moon Valley Nurseries’ inventory is grown.

“We then sell that inventory to our own retail stores,” Blake said. “This gives us a competitive cost advantage.” He and his chief financial officer, Eugene Ruiz, expect retail sales to approach $125 million next year. “We like to think of ourselves as farmers, retailers and landscapers all at the same time,” Blake said.

Moon Valley Nurseries’ relationship with National Bank of Arizona has been helpful to the operation of the business, Blake and Ruiz said. “NB|AZ has put together an aggressive capital equipment financing program for us,” Ruiz said. “And, the bank has arranged for us to take advantage of a large commercial credit card program that provides nice cash flow benefits and great rewards.” Blake emphasizes the friendliness of the banking relationship. “It’s very easy to do business with NB|AZ,” he said. “It’s a great bank to work with.”

Story by Debra Gelbart | Photography by Mark Lipczynski