Gary Mortimer grew up in Iowa where he and his family owned a corn and soy bean farm. When Gary was in middle school his mom decided she was over the cold Iowa winters and needed to move somewhere warmer. She and Gary found themselves in Phoenix, Arizona.
In high school Gary worked for landscaping and nursery companies in Phoenix and found his passion for plants and design. After high school the company he was working for sent him to Prescott for a small landscape project. He fell in love and soon began trying to convince the company to let him start a branch in Prescott. They did not agree but Gary still decided he needed to go North!
Gary started Mortimer Landscaping in 1987 and soon added Mortimer Nursery to the mix. Soon later he met his soon to be wife, Sharla. They grew the business and began their lives together. Now Gary, Sharla, and their 4 kids enjoying the life that they have built over the years. The family finds themselves growing their nursery and landscape business, and enjoying their passions for ranching and farming on Mortimer Farms and Ranches in Dewey. The Mortimer family invites you and your family to visit us at any of our locations and have apart in the great passion that can be found on the farm, ranch, and at the nursery!
Sitting in front of their farm’s market at the intersection of Highway 69 and Highway 169 in Dewey, Gary and Sharla spoke about their multiple operations and how much it all means to them.
Number of employees:
Sharla: Depending on the season, we have about 75 to 100 people in the peak seasons. The nursery is busiest in the spring and summer. The fall is the busiest time for us on the farm.
Family: Four children. Ashlee is 17. Hayden is 15. Kayla is 14 and Kolton is 11.
Ages: Sharla is 38 and Gary just turned 47 this last Saturday, Oct. 31. Happy birthday, Gary!
First job: Sharla’s first job was being a server at the Village Inn in Prescott. Gary started helping out at a nursery in Phoenix when he was 12 years old.
Community activities: Involved in 4-H, a positive youth development and mentoring organization; Future Farmers of America (FFA), a student-led leadership development organization for students of agricultural education; Arizona Farm Bureau; Yavapai Cattle Growers; church activities; and school programs for their children.
What is a typical day for the two of you?
Gary: “I start at our home ranch along Cherry Road. I usually meet with the crew there. I come by the farm, check with the crew there. I then make my rounds through Prescott, Prescott Valley and Dewey. I then come back to the nursery and finish up my day there.”
Sharla: “I spend most of my day at the farm, especially during the fall to organize the events and make sure the operations are running smoothly. We’re in the middle of our pumpkin festival right now, so that keeps me busy.”
How do you get away from work?
Sharla: We go out on the mule (tractor) and drive around the ranch and check the cows. That’s an evening off for us.
Favorite vacation spot:
Sharla: We love San Diego. It’s great to go play at the beach and eat seafood. You can’t go wrong with kids and the beach.
What do you enjoy the most about what you do?
Sharla: I love how excited people are about coming to the farm and being able to buy everything they need for their evening meal right here in the store.
Gary: I love everything I do. I don’t consider it work. It’s like waking up and going to a party every day.
What do you enjoy the least about it?
Gary: Anything that I don’t enjoy doing, I usually hire somebody else to do it.
Sharla: You’ve got to find the right people for the right jobs so that everybody is happy.
Key to your business’ success:
Sharla: Over the last 12 years since we’ve been in agriculture more, we’ve diversified our operations so that we can buffer some of the ups and downs that come in the economy. Very rarely do we sell to the commodity market. Most of what we do is raise for our own use and production. We feed our cattle with the grain and hay that we grow and we sell a lot of the meat and vegetables in our store here on the farm.
Gary: We direct market pretty much everything to the consumer. We sell cattle to other ranchers. The feed and grain business has become a big business for us because we are able to grow the feed and people are able to buy it directly from the source, which people love.
Are your children interested in working with the family business?
Gary: They pretty much say that dad’s got enough business that we can pretty much choose what we want to do. They can choose just about any career maybe except for medical and apply it to one of the operations we run.
Sharla: That’s the cool thing about agriculture. There’s so many opportunities that are there. Like our oldest daughter loves being out and helping with the events. And then our son Hayden, who’s 15, loves to be out on the tractor or on the farm away from people.
Outlook on the future:
Gary: We’re just going to continue growing our operation in all aspects. Keep on providing local employment and keep on providing locally grown products.
Sharla: A good friend of ours says the harder you work, the luckier you get. I think we’ve taken that advice to heart. We try to work smart, but we also understand that there’s a lot of work that goes to it. We’re dedicated to putting in that time and effort to make everything successful.