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In The Beginning                                                              free hit counter
The story of how the Guerra family got into the tropical plant seed business began in 1938 when 
Luciano "Chano" Guerra Sr. was 15 years old and living with his parents and 9 siblings in deep south Texas.  That was the year his uncle Jose Barrera took Chano to Mexico with him to work at his tourist court, El Sol Courts.  

Having had no say in the decision that sent him to Mexico, Chano found himself in a place unlike anywhere he had ever seen.  Compared to the mesquite and cacti filled brushlands of south Texas, the tropical jungles and mountainous terrain of central Mexico were like another world to Chano. Aware of his obligation to his family back home, he was determined to make the best of the situation. As a result, it was not long before his strong work ethic and friendly personality helped him overcome the obstacles he faced and soon became a valuable asset to his uncle Jose.

In late 1949 or early 1950, uncle Jose offered to sell Chano his interest in El Sol.  As much as Chano wanted to be his own boss, he knew that this was a big decision to make, especially since he now had a wife (Maria de Jesus "Chuy") and two children (Juan and Berta) to support.  Knowing that there were no guarantees in owning a business, Chano worried about what would happen to his family if he failed. However seeing this as an opportunity to move on to bigger and better things, Chano decided to take Uncle Jose up on his offer and purchased El Sol Courts from him. 

It was around this time that Chano discovered a new love. The love of plants. He made this discovery in what had become El Sol Courts’ biggest tourist attraction, a tropical garden.  This garden, which featured various kinds of tropical flora, native fauna and so many exotic butterflies that at times were almost a nuisance, was a beautiful and peaceful place. Filled as it was with brilliantly colored bromeliads, elegant palm trees and the ever popular wild orchids in bloom, El Sol's tropical garden soon became more than just a tourist attraction to Chano. It became a place for him to temporarily escape from the realities and responsibilities of everyday life. 

As El Sol Court's owner/manager, Chano always had something to keep him busy.  However he soon discovered that by taking El Sol's guests, mostly American tourists, on nature walks through the jungles surrounding El Sol Courts he could mix business with pleasure.  One fateful day, a nurseryman by the name of Roger Nason, from Boynton Beach Florida, was among the tourists on one of those walks.  It didn't take Mr. Nason long to notice a beautiful and elegant little palm growing along the trail.  Not being familiar with this palm, Mr. Nason asked Chano if he could have some of it's seed collected and shipped to him in Florida so that he could see what it would do as a pot plant.  Chano agreed and soon made his first ever shipment of palm seed into the United States.

As it turned out, the palm which interested Mr. Nason was the
Chamaedorea elegans 'Collinia' or "Neanthe Bella" palm.  A palm whose seed had never before been commercially collected and/or imported into the United States.  While neither Chano nor Mr. Nason knew it at the time, horticultural history was made and a seed collector was born as a result of their impromptu agreement made during that walk.

Chano soon began making contacts among the nurserymen of central and southern Florida.  He quickly became known as "The Source" in Florida for tropical plant cuttings, bulbs and especially seeds out of Mexico.  Before long, word of mouth about him spread even further and he began receiving inquiries from places as far away as Europe, Australia and China.

Ironically, it was his love of plants which eventually resulted in Chano selling El Sol Courts, tropical garden and all, in 1955. This allowed him to dedicate himself to the collecting and selling of tropical plants and seeds.

Soon Chano decided that the time was right to move back to Texas, bringing his wife (pregnant at the time with your's truly, Luciano Jr.) and four children with him.  The year was 1956, eighteen years after his parents had first pulled him out of the 8th grade and sent him to Mexico. 

Over the next several decades, Chano's tropical plant and palm seed business grew in size as well as in reputation.  Eventually, my brother Juan and I came into the business and a three way partnership was formed.  As Juan and I took on more of the responsibilities of running the company, Chano found himself spending more and more time in the greenhouse.  Surrounded, until the day he retired in his early 80's, by the tropical plants and palms that he first came to know as a fifteen year old boy.  

Juan and I now own and operate the business.  While we have automated and modernized the way we handle and process our products, we have not forgotten that it was our father, and his dedication to service and quality, who began it all during a nature walk through the tropical jungles of central Mexico. 

The Chamaedorea elegans palm, which Chano first introduced into the United States and whose seed is still our biggest seller, became (and remains to this day) one of the most popular tropical house plants in the world. With over half a billion seeds produced and collected annually and hundreds of thousands of fronds cut for the floral industry each year.  The economic impact of this dwarf palm to the Huasteca region of central Mexico over those 50+ years is immeasurable. 

The tropical plant and seed business has gone through many changes since Chano collected and sold his first pound of Chamaedorea elegans Palm seed, but one thing that has not changed is the fact that nurserymen worldwide still consider the Guerra's to be "The Source" for tropical plant cuttings, bulbs and especially seeds out of Mexico. 

If you are already a customer of ours, we would like to take this opportunity to thank you for your continued loyalty and support.  If on the other hand you are a prospective customer, we hope you will give us the opportunity to demonstrate the high level of quality and service that has become synonymous with the Guerra name for over half a century.

                                                Click Here For Vintage Photos of El Sol Courts

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