Our past shapes our present.
BHAG (Big hairy audacious goals)
Our founder's story
Our owner and founder Aaron Jay is adamant that Hortus should never be about one person. That’s true, of course, because we know that what makes Hortus special is its people, and that its success is the collective effort of many people over many years. Aaron thinks that means we shouldn’t tell his story on the website, but we think it’s a pretty good one. So we are going to tell it anyway. (Sorry, Aaron)
Arriving in New Zealand in 2001, Aaron Jay was struck by the wealth of opportunities available, a stark contrast to what he’d experienced in England. He grew up with the clear goal of wanting to make it into the British special forces, but when a heart condition diverted the path, he was left feeling lost, and with no plan B. He set to work building his reputation as a jack of all trades, master of none. Working at a bank, he learned about finance, and computer sales taught him marketing and brand sales.
Having limited formal education felt like a low ceiling on Aaron’s career aspirations. This frustration led him to join his family in New Zealand. Fresh air, nature, and work opportunities were abundant in Marlborough. Starting out in forestry, Aaron was introduced to some of his best friends (who are now core members of the Hortus team). He and a mate started their own silviculture contracting company, where Aaron first realised his deep desire to be a business owner.
Aaron transitioned to viticulture doing field work for Montana, slowly working his way up. He found himself in the room when Marlborough Vine Works was created, and a year later he had the opportunity to buy in and eventually take over the company entirely. In retrospect, buying a company days before his first child was born may have been a bit out-there. But then again, ‘Aaron Jay’ and ‘out-there’ are still finding themselves together in sentences to this day.
Over the years, Aaron has grown and learned alongside Hortus. His key to success now is to surround himself with people whose strengths are his own weaknesses. His pride in the company is exceeded only by his pride in his family. Thoughts of his wife and two daughters get him out of bed each morning (even though admittedly, dreaming about the future of Hortus often keeps him out of bed at night).
Aaron’s name is often paired with words like “dreamer” and “visionary”. Hortus is certainly the sum of all its parts, but the truth is (as much as he hates to admit it), without Aaron we never would have found each other, or had the opportunity to build such a powerful legacy together. Hortus could have existed without Aaron, but it would probably be a pretty average, boring company. And none of us would want to work there. And that’s why his bio is on the website.