MEET OUR TEAM!

Management
Brad & Deenie Owen

Majority Owners

 

Brad's life has been defined by growing and identifying plants. Raised on a small farm in eastern Pennsylvania, he's farmed and gardened since he was old enough to grip a hoe. Brad earned a Ph.D. in ecology from the University of Alberta and held academic, research and consulting jobs until becoming a full time environmental consultant, specializing in stream and wetland evaluations. Brad's sick idea of retirement was to purchase a huge greenhouse business! His interests include gardening and farming, hiking, antique automobile restoration, drawing and painting.

Deenie comes from the medical field; most recently working in a pain management practice in Pennsylvania as a trigger point and therapeutic massage therapist. She home-schooled two daughters and was president of the County Organic Food Co-op. Deenie is an avid reader and enjoys gardening, cooking, biking and hiking with Brad and Dobby, as well as checking out the great local music, art and theatre venues.

For 37 years Brad and Deenie owned and farmed a 320-acre property in Pennsylvania until they “retired” to North Carolina over a decade ago.  The farm produced numerous organic crops, boarded many animals and fed the Owen family well!  Their ongoing vision for Painters is to increase the production of native plants and focus on sustainability while maintaining the same high-quality plants and friendly environment that has made the business a local icon for over four decades.  Brad is semi-retired (for the third time), but remains on call to help 'put out fires' and maintain the facilities, while Deenie oversees all staff, the office, and the checkout counter. 

Dana Owen

Co-Owner

Dana (Brad & Deenie's daughter) earned a B.A. from Ohio Wesleyan in Environmental Studies and Politics and Government.  She also spent two years studying Raptor Ecology and teaching biology in the MS program at Boise State University.  Dana enjoyed working in a local greenhouse and studying botany in college, and she spent time in Honduras and Ecuador studying sustainable agriculture and medicinal plants.  At Painters she and Deenie share management of all employees, plant orders, and general business decisions.  She is also responsible for the website, social media and advertising and is the HR representative.  Dana is very grateful for the opportunity to run such a rewarding business with her family in the beautiful WNC mountains!  She enjoys nature photography, waterfalls, swimming, gardening (of course), and cuddling with her kitties while binging on podcasts.

Ashley Garrison

Head Grower, Production Manager

  

Ashley is a veteran of Painters, beginning her greenhouse work here many years ago.  She then worked retail at P&R Garden Center, and managed a Lowes Garden Center for six years.  Her plant expertise was quickly apparent when she rejoined Painters in 2015.  With 16 years of experience in the field, it took only two years before she became Production Manager in July of 2017.  Ashley helps determine what we grow, plans the production schedule for the entire year and directs all employees involved with production.  She also oversees pest prevention and treatment, facility, machinery and plumbing maintenance, and tech questions when she can squeeze it in!  Her constant drive to learn more and make improvements combined with her sense of fairness and teamwork have made her an excellent manager.  In her rare 'down time', Ashley enjoys cooking, hiking and playing with/chasing after her son Jensen. 

Jessy Piercy

Horticulturist, Co-Manager


Jessy worked at Painters for 6 years before taking a year off to work as a gardener at the Biltmore Estate.  We were thrilled when she returned to us in 2017!  Jessy's gardening career started at Western Carolina University, where she earned a Bachelors in Forestry and worked at the campus greenhouse.  She then worked as a professional landscaper at Snow Creek Landscaping for 5 years.  She now has over 15 years of professional gardening, greenhouse growing and landscaping experience, and uses that knowledge to help oversee our shrub and tree program, perennial seed program and the landscaping of the grounds as well as oversee aspects of production and inventory layout.  Her level head, determined work ethic, and positive outlook are essential in maintaining our work environment and team dynamic!  Jessy lives with her husband Josh and son Jaden River.  She enjoys all aspects of gardening, especially growing cut flowers.

Sara Surabian

Office Manager 

Sara studied at UNC-Asheville, earning a degree in Environmental Studies: Ecology & Field Biology, with a focus in Botany.  She's worked a range of positions since graduating, from working at an organic farm to managing an office. Sara joined Painters in August of 2018; she works with Deenie managing finances and is the main engine behind all office orders, communications and organization.  She also helps with plant care and propagation as well checkout duties when open - jumping in wherever needed with her boundless energy, efficiency and enthusiastic attitude!  Sara is glad to be part of a business that is able to utilize her interests and education while providing a healthy balance of office work and working with plants, and we feel very fortunate that she feels that way.  She lives with her partner Andrew in Old Fort, with a dog, two cats, and plenty o' chickens.  When not at Painters, she likes to work with her hands - cooking, gardening, playing outside, doing fiber crafts... and basically anything else to avoid indoor housework!

Dustin Thompson

Facilities Maintenance Coordinator, Retail Floor Assistant Manager, Assistant Grower

Dustin Thompson brings an impressive work ethic & his own special kind of humor to Painters - he started as a seasonal employee in spring of 2016, and it didn't take him long to become an essential member of our year round team.  Dustin's energy and attitude are hard to beat, and he is constantly researching, learning and trying new things.  Dustin has many responsibilities at Painters, ranging from being the go-to 'basket man' (he happily hangs endless rows of heavy hanging baskets), to operating equipment, to helping with plant care, to being the main man behind all building and maintenance projects.   He also helps Jessy with transplanting, pruning and care of shrubs and trees, as they are one of his (many) areas of interest.  When not sweating it out in the greenhouses, Dustin spends time growing plants of his own and traveling to unique U.S. locations - all while eating terrifyingly hot peppers. 

Year-Round Team
Sarah McClary

Assistant Grower, Integrative Pest Management 

Sarah is a native of Nashville, TN.  She received a BFA in Metalsmithing from the Appalachian Center for Craft in Smithville, TN.  Since then she has worked as an exhibition designer and gallery coordinator for several fine craft galleries.  She is currently making a shift away from the art world and into the plant world, working towards a Certificate in Horticulture from NC State University.  Sarah loves learning new things and working with her hands, so working at Painters has been a natural transition for her.  We were all excited to have her join our year-round team in 2018, as she is extremely focused, efficient, hard-working and creative!  Sarah helps Ashley oversee our Pest Management program, and aids with plant care and propagation.  She is also behind almost all of the gorgeous new combo pots and baskets folks will see in 2019!  Sarah is an artist, shoemaker, gardener, plant lover and collector - she has just a few (hundred) plants of her own. She enjoys cooking, hiking and listening to podcasts. She lives outside of Asheville with her husband Allen, their dog, Clover and cat, Otis.

Misty Hein 

Misty Hein is a retired statistician from the CDC (somehow we managed to get a Ph.D. mathematician on staff!). Grossly overqualified, she's been a huge help at checkout for years.   As of 2017, Misty joined our year-round staff and started managing plant signage and tag creation, as well as documentation of our plant orders and plant inventory/availability.  She helps us all stay on track with orders and labeling, and makes shopping at Painters much easier with detailed and well-placed plant signage.  We are very grateful to have her help in the office as well as at checkout - her work ethic, motivation, focus and precision are invaluable!   Plus, her dry sense of humor fits well with our vibe.  In her spare time, Misty enjoys exploring the abundant hiking trails in Western North Carolina with her husband, and creating intricate mosaic art.

Toni Stevens

 

Toni (pictured left with daughter and grandaughter) joined Painters in 2011, and is an important member of our year-round team.   She has a degree in Childhood Education and worked in the field for 20 years, heading many projects and wearing many hats.  She now wears many hats at Painters - keeping all of our retail items (tools, garden art, pottery, etc) inventoried, organized and artistically arranged on the retail floor.  When we are open, she is a customer favorite on the retail floor, and she oversees design and maintenance of the fairy garden nook and aquatic area.  She also takes pride in keeping Painters tidy and clean throughout the year.  In her 'spare' time at Painters, she enjoys designing fairy gardens, and in her free time at home, she has fun gardening, camping and hiking - especially with her grandchildren.  Toni wins the award for being the most polite staff member - she is always kind and accommodating!

Beth Hile 

 

Beth has been with Painters for many years - we were lucky she stayed with the business when we took over in 2010!  When we are open, Beth keeps us in line at the checkout counter with her unbeatable work ethic (and also keep us energized with endless snacks)!   Throughout the year, we rely on Beth's speedy and effective propagation - there is always something that needs 'cutting', and she knows all the tricks to the best methods!   We propagate as much of our own material as we can to ensure the best health, a wide variety, and to help cut customer costs.  This means Beth is kept very busy - whether it be with cutting and sticking plant material, or transplanting seedlings! 

Vanessa Owen

Vanessa has helped at Painters on and off over the years (and also worked at a greenhouse in Richmond).  'Ness" is the younger Owen daughter, who has traveled the world with her partner Gavin performing as a professional dancer.   She continues to choreograph and dance locally and abroad - often with Stewart Owen Dance, the company she founded with Gavin.  When she's not traveling, performing or teaching contemporary dance in Asheville, Ness helps us out in the office, at the checkout counter and with propagation.  She has accrued many years of experience propagating at Painters and is one of our best!  Ness also crafted a class specifically geared toward stretching and strengthening muscles involved in greenhouse/garden work, which Painters employees get to enjoy weekly when she's in town.  Her experience teaching dance, yoga and Barre3 has given her an excellent understanding of proper alignment and fitness; we hope her classes will help us prevent injury!   

Photo credit: Dave Myles

Clare Kubik

 

Clare has been helping at Painters for a couple years while completing her degree at Warren Wilson College.  We are always thankful for her help, as she is a machine - we often have to make her take a break as she otherwise would plow on through the day without stopping!  Clare was raised by parents who care a lot for native plants and restoration work, and she has spent a lot of volunteer hours helping with these ventures near her home in PA. Clare also spent time in Ghana working with the local animals and plants.  We hope to continue to have her help when she is not busy with her work as a mechanic!

Seasonal Staff 

Kimberly Lanzarotta

Kimberly joined our retail team in 2018, bringing a range of knowledge and experience with her.  She has spent time doing restoration work in national parks and overall has a great knowledge of native plants, but also spent years working at a retail greenhouse in Richmond, VA, learning varied aspects of plant care and customer service.  When the greenhouse is closed, she is running one of the many kids' educational garden programs she's overseen.  She also enjoys teaching and performing Bangra dance.  We enjoy having her high energy and positive personality on the team, and are glad to have her expertise on the floor.  She has a bevy of beautiful tattoos detailing native plants and insects, which she uses to help when she's educating kids and adults about the benefits of supporting native flora and fauna.  

Douglas O'Hara

 

Doug joined our retail team in 2018, bringing a wide range of experience.   Perhaps part of our reason for hiring him was the bag of incredibly fragrant lavender buds he brought to his interview - he and his girlfriend have a lavender hobby farm and experiment with many varieties for herbal use.  Doug brings a great knowledge of shrubs and trees (and many other plants), and has many years of experience working in the horticultural field.  During his time running his own garden design and installation company in New Jersey, his work became very well known and sought after.  He obviously has a great eye, as one of his designs made it into the Smithsonian (he claims it was just luck)!  Doug's knowledge combined with his excellent customer service skills and positive energy make him a wonderful asset on the retail floor - we are very fortunate to have his help at Painters! 

Gavin Stewart

Gavin is another 'everything man', helping where he is most needed when available.  He has worked in a seasonal capacity at the greenhouse off and on since 2012.  Gavin's music composition and choreography has been performed world-wide, and he has worked as a contemporary dancer throughout the U.S. and abroad, often with his partner and fiancé, Vanessa.  In Asheville, he performs with the contemporary ballet company, Terpsicorps, and he and Vanessa choreograph and perform with their own company, Stewart Owen Dance.   When he has a free day, we are fortunate to have his help with checkout duties, propagation and off-season projects!  

Photo credit: Amikaeyla Gaston

Emily Cameron

Emily Cameron joined our team several years ago, helping out a few days a week during our busy retail period.  You can usually find her inside the main house, where she keeps things well-stocked and tidy.  Despite what is often extreme heat, she stays positive and efficient, always ready to help customers and co-workers.  Emily is also a Life Coach, and her level-headed approach to situations is a great asset.  Emily has a range of plant knowledge gained from years nurturing her gardens at home.  

Lee Just

 

Lee Just joined our team a couple years ago.  She balances many jobs including equestrian therapy with her beloved horses, so we only get to have her for brief periods during our retail season.  Lee always brings a smile, great sense of humor and endless patience to the retail floor - she's wonderfully helpful with customers and keeps us all laughing! Her outlook on life is a wonderful influence on the rest of us, and we always enjoy having her around - even if we can only have her for a day a week!  

~In Loving Memory of Robyn McDaniel~

An incredible friend and co-worker, Robyn is deeply missed by all of us.  She was an 'everything woman' while at Painters, with an incredible work ethic.  We miss her many talents (especially her Journeyman Plumber skills), but most critically we miss her endless optimism and ability to love (and hug) on a level few ever achieve.  We only had a year with Robyn, and she only had a couple months after her diagnosis, but we are so thankful for that time with such a truly unique and beautiful person.  We are working on a dedication garden with all of her favorite plants called the "Robyn's Nest"!

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