O’NEILL — For nearly 40 years, Delray and Lib Kumm have fostered a nurturing environment for plants and people with green thumbs — and on Friday, that hard work was recognized.
For its multigenerational impact on the O’Neill community and beyond, Shamrock Nursery was named the 2021 inductee into the Norfolk Area Business Hall of Fame. The hall of fame is a partnership of the Daily News and the Norfolk branch of First National Bank of Omaha that recognizes local businesses for their impact on the community.
The first greenhouse of Shamrock Nursery was erected in O’Neill in 1982. Now, there are around 17 buildings and units on the property, each bursting with plants and decorations for sale. The business has extended past city limits to three other towns: Norfolk, Neligh and Verdigre.
Surrounded by his prized poinsettias, a beaming Delray Kumm stood with his wife, Lib, and introduced every single person in the audience, a mix of family, friends, former employees and even the mayor of O’Neill.
It takes a village to raise a child — or a nursery of plants, it would seem. In his speech Delray thanked the countless people who had supported his and Lib’s dream, amazed at how it had come to fruition. It was a team effort, he emphasized.
“We’re all just cogs in this one, big machine,” he said.
The nursery has survived many tough situations, but perhaps none quite as interesting as an event over a decade ago concerning the National Guard, in which Delray served. When natural gas pressure dropped during a cold December night, he knew he had to act fast to save his poinsettias. In freezing weather, the heat in the greenhouse would drop by roughly one degree per minute, so in a race against time, Delray called his sergeant and explained the situation. Within minutes, men in uniform were transporting the Christmas flowers to other heated spaces, saving the day and hundreds of plants.
Cooperation and teamwork are the backbone of the nursery, the Kumms said, thanking everyone again before the social hour ended. Although it is their business, everyone who pitched in to make it a success deserves credit.
“Everyone deserves a thank you,” Delray said. “This is everyone’s award.”