Family-Owned Jackson Shrub: Greening Hollywood Sets Since 1937

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Perhaps no other business epitomizes both the American and Hollywood Dream like Jackson Shrub and Supply.  Family run since 1937, the North Hollywood-based company employs 50 people, whose skill and talent is primarily dedicated to providing the entertainment industry with live plant rentals as well as prop rentals and set construction services.

The company’s founder, Cecil Jackson, worked as a greensman at MGM Studios before going into business for himself in 1937.  After five decades of building his business into an industry leader, Cecil retired in the 1970’s and his son, Keith Jackson, took over his father’s business.  When Keith decided to retire in 1996, his son Gary–who himself  joined the family business in 1973–took over the reins.  Fast forward to 1998, and the fourth-generation of Jacksons joined the company with the addition of Gary’s daughter Julie and son Ryan.

As the Jackson family has grown, so too has the family business.  From its humble beginnings in the midst of Hollywood’s Golden Age,  Jackson Shrub currently maintains an impressive 13 acres of live plants and trees to service productions of any size.  The company also boasts an expansive prop department, which includes everything from World War II aircraft to horse-drawn buggies and smoldering artificial volcanoes.  Jackson Shrub’s list of past clients includes A-list blockbuster films (including the Pirates of the Caribbean films, Iron Man, Iron Man 2 and The Hangover) and numerous hit TV shows (such as Glee, Grey’s Anatomy, The Office and True Blood).  As a further testament to the quality of their work, Jackson Shrub has also worked on high-profile award shows including the Academy Awards, BET Awards and Daytime Emmy Awards among others.

Gary Jackson says his business is a good example of why the entertainment industry is best served by remaining in Southern California.  “Canada is the best place to grow 13 acres of diverse plants, trees and flowers.  It’s too cold or too overcast.  Places back East, like Michigan, have the same problem,” Jackson said, “If [a production] is shooting back East and they want 1,000 feet of hedges eight-feet high, they have to buy the hedgerows, the wood, the soil and planting supplies and then they have to build it and grow it if they can, which takes time.”  If a production is shooting locally, however, and needs the same thing, Jackson proudly notes his company can provide it “off the shelf and ready to go now.”

Like many other business owners, Jackson is dismayed so many productions are electing to leave California to take advantage of generous tax incentives elsewhere.  “When they leave, my costs rise and I have to pass that on to my remaining customers,” Jackson said.  Jackson noted the irony that if more productions chose to stay in the region, the economy of scale would tip in his favor and he afford to lower his prices.

When it comes to California’s own burgeoning film incentive, Jackson rejects the critics who say it’s a cash handout to wealthy producers looking to put money in their pockets.  “So what,” said Jackson, “if [by staying in-state] they have more money at the end of the day, what are they going to do with it?  They’re going to have more money to make even more films, which means more jobs for Californians… jobs that come with benefits and health care and that pay a good wage so more folks can afford to stay in their home or maybe purchase their first.”

The story of Jackson Shrub and Supply shows why it is so vital that the Los Angeles Region maintain and foster a vibrant entertainment industry.  The story of Jackson Shrub is also the story of so many small and family-owned business in the region that depend on the entertainment industry.  If you own, work or know of one of the establishments and think it should be featured on Film Works, please let us know!

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