Our company started in 1919 when James Masson bought a 15,000 sq. ft greenhouse in Kansas City, Kansas. His son Alex R. Masson later joined him to help grow one of the first wholesale plant producing greenhouses west of the Mississippi River and east of the Rockies. His sons, R. Alexander Masson and brother James Masson continued the growth through the turn of the century.
By focusing on quality, variety and customer service, our growth continued. By 1968, the company grew to three acres. In 1972, the headquarters moved to Linwood, Kansas with another three acre greenhouse. That's when we introduced the "Sunflower Sue" brand, one of the first U.S. growers to provide brand identification for consumers.
We grew with the plant boom of the 1970's, adding three more acres of greenhouse. We ventured into supermarket and mass market retailers with brand name products, began packaging plant care accessories, and started producing tropical foliage. Throughout the 1990's and beyond, Alex R. Masson, Inc. grew to ship to fifteen states. By the mid 2000’s we were at 9 acres of greenhouse Kansas.
Mark and Andrea Illausky came on board in 2008 and purchased the company in 2012. They have continued to pursue the goals from the past, yet revolutionize the systems and operations of the business under the name Free State Growers. Along with this new name, the new Free State Grown brand will take us into the future as part of our locally grown initiative.
We are one of the largest producers and distributors of tropical and foliage plants in the Midwest. Annuals, perennials, and garden mums have also become a part of our ever expanding product line.
We live here too!
Over the past few years we have decreased our geographic shipping areas, focusing on our own community. We have our own dedicated fleet of trucks to insure on time deliveries. Being centrally located we can reach most major metropolitan areas in 1-2 days. We ship closer to home to ensure our plants quality and freshness. We moved to a cart based shipping system, which has contributed to usage of almost 80% less cardboard than we did 5 years ago. Working with a local recycler we have reduced our landfill waste by almost 70% annually. We prioritize reuse and recycling throughout our production process.
Still growing after 100 years--our roots have provided a stable base for a strong future!