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History

Will Almendinger, KARE-11 News

In 1964, Will Almendinger opened his first Christmas tree lot on a street corner in Robbinsdale, Minnesota to support his way through college. He named the tree lot "Willy's Wonderland" and sold cultured scotch pine, norway pine and wild balsam that he cut near his boyhood home in northern Minnesota.

Throughout the late 60's and early 70's, "Willy's Wonderland" expanded to include multiple Christmas tree lots across the northern metropolitan area. To assist with the retail operation, Will went into partnership with his brother, Russ Almendinger, and brother-in-law, Charles Edling. "Willy's Wonderland" was now a family affair.

The partners decided to change the name of the retail lot operation to "Premium Quality Trees." They used this name until a cold December night in 1973 when an elderly lady, wanting to pay for a $10 scotch pine with a frozen pen, asked if she could make the check out to PQT. From that day forward, we would be known as PQT Company.

Will, Russ, and Charlie decided to incorporate the PQT Company and plant their first plantation in 1974. The plantation consisted of scotch, norway, white pine, and balsam fir. It was their intention to grow enough trees to supply the retail lots. A second plantation was purchased and planted the next year.

As the trees grew, they found themselves in a dilemma – they had more trees ready for market than they could sell at their retail lots. So, Will and Russ Almendinger set out to cultivate new wholesale accounts. They called on nurseries and independent retailers in the midwest to sell their excess trees. They also worked at establishing new retailers for fundraising events for charities, churches, Boy Scouts and other organizations. The brothers were able use their many years of retailing experience to help new customers display the trees and manage a profitable Christmas tree lot.

As the wholesale portion of the company started to grow, PQT Company moved into the lower level of Charles Edling's house in 1987. Though cramped, the growing PQT Company would use his 5 acre lot and rent the adjoining 10 acres as their distribution center for the next 9 years, shipping trees all across the United States, Mexico and Canada.

As the company continued to grow, the need for more room became increasingly apparent. In 1996, PQT Company built an office and warehouse on 235 acres along the Rum River in Oak Grove.

Today, Rum River Tree Farm is a full service nursery and landscaping company, offering a full line of trees, evergreens, shrubs, annuals, perennials, roses, and landscape supplies. Although the original three owners have now retired, Will Almendinger lives on "the back 40" and still remains active in the company. His son, Dan Almendinger, carries on the family business, along with several longtime and dedicated employees.

For nearly 50 years, Rum River Tree Farm has strived to put quality first, offering premium products at a competitive price. We thank you for your past business, and hope we have the opportunity to serve you again in the future!