Biographies

Rick Sanderfoot  Joe Meulemans  Steve VanRyzin 
Debbie & Jeff Hermsen  Nursery and Landscape Crew Ryan Zuberbier

rick sanderfootRick Sanderfoot

As Owner of Van Zeeland Nursery & Landscape, I feel truly blessed. Yes, this business has its long seasonal hours and unpredictable weather issues, but the rewards of working with friendly and inquisitive customers, and the highest quality plants available are many. With hard work, lots of prayer and a little luck, I plan for the Nursery to succeed for many years to come.

As the second of six children, I grew up in Kimberly Wisconsin and graduated from Kimberly High School in 1979. In 1983, after four years of cheering on Bucky Badger, I graduated from UW-Madison with a BS degree in Finance. From there I followed a business career that started in the Paper Industry and ended with fifteen plus years in Commercial Construction. While at these companies, I lived in four different states and held positions beginning with Analyst and ending with Chief Financial Officer and Treasurer.

All the while this was happening, not only did I marry my wife, Sue, and have three wonderful children, but I also spent lots of hours and dollars (Sue always said too much of both) landscaping my yards. As a matter of fact, I always tell people that my love of plants led me to buy each of the groomsmen in my wedding a Royal Red Maple tree from, you guessed it, Van Zeeland Nursery -- nine years before buying the Nursery! Who would have known?

On February 28, 2003, Sue and I purchased the Nursery and Landscape business from Jeff and Debbie Hermsen. All of the expertise and quality that had been at the Nursery before we bought it is still at the Nursery being shared with all who inquire of it. Stop in and check us out.

joe meulemansJoe Meulemans

I'm Joe Meulemans. My wife, Sandy, and I are Kaukauna natives, but have lived in Appleton/Grand Chute for 25+ years. We have two young adult children.

I began working for Van Zeeland Nursery as a seasonal employee in the spring of 1983. After working through that summer, I decided to enroll at Gateway Technical College in Kenosha in their horticulture program with an emphasis on Landscape Design. Upon graduating in 1985, my employment at Van Zeeland Nursery continued, but in a permanent position as a Landscape Designer.

Some things I enjoy about being a Landscape Designer and a long-term employee of the Nursery include:

  1. The friendships that have occurred and the relationships that have been built with both clients and co-workers over the past 30 years
  2. Meeting new clients and being able to offer them solutions to their landscape problems and ways to enhance their homes/property
  3. Working with the same clients on their second and third homes
  4. Working with the children or grandchildren of clients
  5. Creating beautifully unique landscapes that bring enjoyment and fulfillment of the wants and needs of my clients

steve vanryzinSteve VanRyzin

Steve is a lifelong resident of the Fox Valley who discovered his passion for Gardening and Landscape Design as a teenager. He started gardening and yard work for a neighbor, who became his mentor. This inspired him to pursue horticulture in college, and he received his B.S. in Horticulture from UW-Madison.

Steve began working for Van Zeeland Nursery in March, 1988. His first position as an Installation Crew Foreman prepared him for the transition into Landscape Design. Being on the crew not only allowed him the luxury of learning all the details of a design from the ground up, but also gave him the satisfaction of seeing the real "before and after" of each project. Since 1990, Steve has enjoyed working with homeowners to develop a personalized Landscape Design that suits their individual taste, style and budget.

One of Steve's latest passions is the use of professionally designed and installed landscape lighting in a residential setting. In 2006 Steve installed landscape lighting at his own home and thoroughly enjoys the dimension that this lighting has added to his home. In fact, he has come to the conclusion that at night his landscape is even more interesting to look at than during the day. Steve states, "My wife and I now leave our blinds open right after dark just so we are able to see the outdoor scene which the landscape lighting creates. It's great arriving home at night and being greeted by the soft glow of our home and garden. Our neighbors love the show also." Steve's use of unique and unusual plant specimens and a pondless waterfall in his back yard truly adds to the beauty of his landscape. 

debbie and jeff hermsenDebbie & Jeff Hermsen

Debbie graduated from St. Joseph High School, Kenosha, Wisconsin in 1972. She then attended Gateway Technical College and graduated with a degree from the Dental Assistance program.

Jeff graduated from Little Chute High School in 1970. Starting in 1968, Jeff worked summers at Van Zeeland Nursery. After attending two years of school at UW-Fox Valley, he decided to enroll in the horticulture program at Gateway Technical College, graduating in 1974.

Debbie and Jeff were married in August 1975. Debbie worked for an orthodontist, and Jeff continued working at Van Zeeland Nursery. Home for the Hermsen's was an upstairs apartment in the old farmhouse on the Nursery property. Mr. and Mrs. Van Zeeland lived downstairs.

Alois Van Zeeland's family had no horticultural aspirations. Years earlier he had told Jeff he would sell the business to him when he was ready to retire; 1978 was the year.

Debbie and Jeff owned and operated Van Zeeland Nursery for 25 years; both enjoy the outdoors and working with plants and people. Debbie and Jeff grew not only plants; they are currently raising their third golden retriever (the first two being male "Sam's", the third being a female called Samantha...or "Sam" for short). No. 1 worked 14 years, No. 2 worked 13 years, and No. 3 was born in May 2007 and is greeting customers whenever possible. They also raised four shop cats. Jeff continues working at Van Zeeland Nursery, putting in the bulk of his time during the busy spring season and retail weekends. He appreciates the interaction with many long-term customers (some now third generation) as well as meeting new planters.  Jeff prides himself on his ability to remember the trees and shrubs past customers have planted in their yards.  Debbie still strolls the Nursery visiting with customers and employees alike.

Welcome to Van Zeeland Nursery! The Hermsen's (and Sam) look forward to visiting with you, and Jeff would be proud to show you the finest collection of plants in the Valley. Happy Planting!

Ryan ZuberbierRyan Zuberbier

Ryan is originally from the Western side of the State where he gained valuable experience working on a landscaping crew and as a crew foreman. In 2004, Ryan graduated from Rochester Community and Technical College with an Associate Degree in Horticulture and moved to the Fox Valley to work with Van Zeeland Nursery. Ryan is married to his wife April and they have been blessed to welcome 2 children to their family - the first a beautiful baby girl in 2011; the second a dashing baby boy in 2012.  Ryan and April also have two dogs  - - Millie (Basset Hound) and Mollie (Miniature Schnauzer). When he is not rooting for the Badgers or Cubs (we try not to hold that against him), Ryan enjoys working outside, doing landscape designs, and diagnosing plant disease/insect problems. As our Nursery Manager and Designer, Ryan can say that he is able to do all three every day. Stop in soon and see Ryan and the rest of the Nursery crew.

Nursery and Landscape Crew

With an average of nine years experience working at Van Zeeland Nursery & Landscape, each one of these plant and landscaping specialists is well schooled in the methods that have resulted in a majority of the Company's revenue being repeat or referral.

In the Nursery, these individuals are responsible for the maintenance and care (including watering, insect and disease control, and pruning) of all plants in the Nursery; upkeep of plant displays; maintenance of the Nursery yard and facilities; as well as providing design, plant and installation expertise to all of our valued customers that shop at the Nursery. If this staff does not know the answers, or does not have the time to assist a customer, they will find a Landscape Designer or Management individual that may know the answer or have the time to help.

As for the Landscape Crew, these individuals will be split into several smaller, more efficient teams and work on removal and/or installation projects that are coordinated by a Landscape Designer. By assigning a specific crew to a Designer for most of the year, we are able to ensure that this Team understands the wants and needs of those customers who have entrusted us to perform work in their yards. In addition to performing all of the required landscaping tasks at the highest level of craftsmanship, these individuals will always do their best to minimize impact on a customer's previously finished landscape. The landscaping foreman will also review all plant care and maintenance with a customer prior to leaving, as well as answer any other questions that a customer may have.

In addition to all of the above responsibilities, the Nursery and Landscape Crews will also perform all mulch, soil, sand and plant deliveries that have been scheduled at the Nursery.