About Us

The Sunborne Family



Dan and Candice Goldman – Owners

candice-and-dan-23Sunborne Nursery’s history is somewhat unconventional. It began not as a nursery, but as a chicken ranch in the mid 1970’s. One day the bottled-water delivery man, of all people!!!,  suggested that they convert the 50,000 square feet of vacant chicken houses on Dan’s family chicken ranch into greenhouses. It sounded like a reasonable idea, except Dan and his family knew nothing about growing plants. So as a start, Dan enrolled in the Horticulture Department at San Luis Obispo and took some courses with Dr. Noble. During one of the class trips to Gallup and Stribling Orchids of Santa Barbara, Dan had a chance meeting with the president of the foliage division. Not knowing any better, Dan told him about the vacant chicken houses and asked him what opportunities he saw for starting a nursery. He said there was a shortage of tropical foliage propagation material and suggested that Dan go into producing rooted cuttings. He went on to offer stock plants. Dan jumped at the offer and Sunborne Nursery was born (or borne).

Since a majority of the cuttings and finished stock plants were initially sold in the San Francisco Bay Area, Dan and Candice decided to move the nursery to San Francisco in 1989. The facility that they moved into (and currently are in) was built in conjunction with a sewage treatment plant and used the methane bi-product to fuel the heating system. One of the earliest forms of industrial recycling.

In 1991, the business evolved from a growing operation to the wholesale distribution company that it is today. The main customers being interiorscapers, landscapers, designers, and garden centers. While Dan is primarily responsible for sales and purchasing, Candice, whose background is in art, has helped shape the company and has played an important part in the aesthetics and design of Sunborne. Together, Dan and Candice found their calling in the beauty and environmentally enriching qualities of the tropical plant world.


 Eli Goldman – COO

eli1While Eli has a chemical engineering degree and spent 12 years working in Research & Development for a biotech company, he has been “steeped” in tropical plants and plant care all of his life. His transition to Sunborne came in late 2007 as Sunborne sales were on the rise and was eyeing an expansion into new products and markets.  It has turned out to be a natural fit – Dan knows plants, the growers and suppliers and Eli is strong in analysis, operations and project management. He has also brought lots of energy and new ideas to the company. When Eli is not busy at work, he enjoys mountain biking, playing golf, and skiing in Tahoe. However, all of these hobbies have taken a back seat with the birth of his daughter, Hailey, in June 2009.


Lonia Hutchon – GM

loniaLonia began working in the plantscaping industry over 20 years ago and has been with Sunborne for 17 years. During that time, she has become proficient both with plant care and with the operational side. In addition to being the key contact for some of our most valued customers, Lonia oversees the vital greenhouse operations on a day to day basis to insure that orders are filled on time and the crew is working efficiently. You will often find her greeting walk-in customers and helping them find exactly what they came for. Her versatility, in-depth knowledge of the industry and her willingness to lend a helping hand wherever it is needed are much appreciated by customers and staff alike. For the past 16 years or so, Lonia has been a competitive bowler, entering tournaments throughout California and Nevada and staying active in competitive leagues.


Bill Mertz – Business Development

billBill comes with deep roots in the horticultural industry. It all began over 30 years ago in his home state of Pennsylvania, working his way across the US, and finally settling in N. California in 1981. The transition from production into sales management was a natural one. He has worked for some of the largest and smallest companies around, but they all had a common thread; a vision and mutual committment to deliver the very best service and quality. It is this very reason that has brought him to Sunborne Nursery, with yet another opportunity for personal growth. When he is not in the greenhouse, or on the phone with his long time customers, he can be found traveling the world, driving to the coast for fresh oysters, cycling in Sonoma County or working on his garden in the beautiful wine country town of Healdsburg, California.


Carol Hamilton – Customer Rep

carolCarol Hamilton has been with Sunborne Nursery since August of 2000. Prior to that, she was the Director of Operations for an interior landscaping company on the Peninsula for 16 years. She loves working with her customers and takes great pride in finding “just the right” plants or containers for their specific needs. She is a San Francisco native who currently resides in San Mateo. She is an avid reader, sports fan, and the mother of two boys. When not at Sunborne, you can probably find her at some sporting event, either playing on the field, cheering on her family, or volunteering behind the scenes.



Susana Moran – Sales Support

susanaSusana Moran has been with Sunborne since 2007. Prior to joining the company she was in customer service for many years. She is well known as the “cheerful person” who answers the phone -“Hello, Sunborne, Susana speaking”. She always has a smile on her face to those that she greets. After gaining some training in early 2006, she took a break from the interiorscape industry and then came back in early 2007 to the join the Sunborne family. She is the proud mother of her son, Jaime, and she loves to spend her weekends dancing, going to the beach or simply enjoying time with her family.