Hensel, retiring, ‘will do whatever is needed’ to help


Douglas Hensel, assistant general manager of The Great Big Greenhouse in Richmond, Va., doesn't have a booth at MANTS (the greenhouse is a large, independent garden center that sells retail only), but he will be at the Mid-Atlantic Nursery Trade Show as he has been for two decades. This is his last year on the board of directors, which he has served since 1991.
That doesn't mean he won't be at MANTS in 2013. He will serve this year, along with his replacement, Danny Shreckhise from Shreckhise Nursery in Grottoes, Va., in a mentoring role, and he said he would "do whatever is needed" to help the show. "That's my personality," he continued. "I'm not going to close the door and move on. I will do whatever I can to continue to be an advisor, to help with the show."
Hensel said he has always had a love for plants, and unlike Shreckhise, he wasn't following in his great-grandparents' footsteps. "I just got totally involved in it and became a Master Gardener in 1980. In '84, I became a Virginia Certified Horticulturist, and I've remained a certified horticulturist over the years."
He got into the business in 1977, working with the Great Big Greenhouse where he remains today. "It's the same business, although there are new owners as of last year," he said.
Twenty years ago he was asked by C. W. Bryant, a Virginia salesman for White's Nursery, to consider a position on the board with Charlie Parkerson of Lancaster Farms. There are three directors from each of the three states which put together the show.
"We go through rotations as directors, including as officers," Hensel said. "I have served as president twice, in 1995 and in 2004."
He said there have been a lot of good, positive changes in MANTS. "The show has grown to be the premier horticulture show in the United States. We've seen a lot of growth over the years, even since being in Baltimore."
Hensel said his interest in the show, even before he became a director, was to "shop the show."
People who attend the show are really buying, he noted. "That's what makes it such a big show and such a popular show. It fills the Conventon Center. When I came on the board, we were in Halls A and B, and maybe C. Then after reconstruction of the Center, we filled it up. We have a waiting list of people who would love to be in MANTS because they love the value of this show."
Hensel was named 2005 Nurseryman of the Year by Virginia Nursery and Landscape Association, which he also has served as director and as president. In making the presentation, Mary Williams, then a past president herself, noted that Hensel was president of both VNLA and MANTS in the same year. "MANTS has become one of the top horticultural trade shows in the nation, and that didn’t happen by accident. Doug’s hard work and leadership, along with that of many other board members, has allowed all of us to reap the benefits."