Orchid Enterprise Inc. (OEI) was established in April of 2004
Like most internet businesses, OEI started as a hobby gone wild. It all started about 20 years ago with a seedling Cattleya orchid from a local nursery. Placed on a windowsill in a townhouse in Northern Virginia, the Cattleya put on a new growth and that was all it took. Ken was hooked. The quest for knowledge had begun and Ken learned of Kensington Orchids, just a short, 30 minute drive around Washington DC. Merritt Huntington, owner of Kensington Orchids, became Ken's mentor and was always giving of his vast knowledge of orchids and the orchid world.
It was, as a member of NCOS, that Ken met Arthor Holst - author of "The World of Catasetums". Art traveled throughout Brazil studying the native habitats of the genus Catasetenae for his yet-to-be-published book. Art invited Ken to join him on one of his trips to Brazil and they soon became friends and journeyed together on many future trips. After Art's retirement, Ken continued his travels to South America where he now he takes fellow explorers to Ecuador and Peru.
Ken has a Bachelor of Science degree in Protozoology and was formally trained in microbiology while working on his Masters Degree, studying sulfur oxidizing bacteria along the volcanic rifts in the Pacific Ocean. Ken's training has given him the knowledge necessary to establish a laboratory where OEI germinates and grows orchid seed under controlled sterile conditions. Ken has been germinating and growing orchids from seed almost as long as he has been growing orchids.
OEI was originally established to help reduce the number of orchids in Ken's collection, but somehow this has backfired and Ken's collection just seems to grow. Ken now manages a 33'X20'X13' greenhouse, a laboratory, and a grow-room with four 1000W HID lights that run on moving tracks over benches of seedling and various Catasetenae. The grow-room is lined with rolling racks of African Violets that benefit from the 4-foot windows that enclose the 35'X15' room.
The African Violets are a relatively new addition to the OEI collection. Ken has grown African Violets for as long, if not longer than, Orchids. His involvement with the various societies and other commitments prevented Ken from getting too involved with this group of plants. Now that he is no longer serving on a society Board and is an accredited AOS judge, Ken has rekindled his interest in the gesnerid group of plants, which African Violets are a part of. When asked if he planned on becoming a judge for the African Violet Society, Ken was quick to reply "No..... Not at this time" then smiled with a look that said "you never know".