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Rough Brothers Executive and Industry Leader Al Reilly Passes


Longtime Rough Brothers executive and greenhouse industry leader Albert (“Al”) Reilly passed away Thursday, October 17.

Al Reilly was a key figure in the greenhouse and garden center industry for more than three decades, leading Rough Brothers from a small greenhouse structure repair company to the largest greenhouse manufacturer in North America. In addition to commercial greenhouses, under Mr. Reilly’s leadership Rough Brothers also expanded into projects for schools and universities, retail garden centers, and large scale public and private conservatories, completing such notable projects as the restoration of the United States Botanic Garden on the Mall in Washington, D.C. Other projects of note include the New York Botanical Garden, Longwood Gardens, the National Zoo in Washington, D.C. and the Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Gardens. Additionally, he helped pioneer the development of movable greenhouse benches, under-bench heating systems, and double-poly greenhouses.

Prior to buying Rough Brothers in the late 1970s, Al was head football coach at Knox College in Galesburg, Illinois, where he is a Knox-Lombard Athletic Hall Of Fame 2013 inductee.  He was the youngest NCAA head coach in the country at the time, and in his last year of coaching, Knox College went undefeated, winning the Midwest Conference championship and earning a top ten Division III national ranking.

Al was active in industry organizations including the American Academy of Florists, the Ohio Florists Association, and is a past president of the National Greenhouse Manufacturers Association and World Presidents Association. He volunteered his time and efforts to numerous charities, including the Ronald McDonald House Charities of Greater Cincinnati. Al also served on the Board of Advisors for the Goering Business Center at the University of Cincinnati and the Xavier University Williams School of Business.

Al’s son Richard was named President of Rough Brothers in 2004 and continues in the business today.

Al Reilly is survived by his wife, Pam, daughter Sarah and son Richard.


2 comments on “Rough Brothers Executive and Industry Leader Al Reilly Passes”

  1. Daniel Frondorf says:

    My brother Joe let me know about Al’s passing; I didn’t know Al but Joe did, and I know from what he has told me that Al was a great person and a respected business leader. I wish the Reilly and the Rough Brothers families all the best at this sad time, and hope you’ll have many happy memories of Al and will continue to follow his fine example.

  2. Chester Nelson Jr. says:

    I was employed by Rough Brothers for ~ 4 years in the mid 1980’s.. During that time Al was leading the company and recognized that in order for the company to remain a competitor he needed to bring it into the digital age and instigated the process of switching from board drafting (hand drawn drawings) to CAD (Computer Assisted Drafting). While I learned a lot about greenhouses as well as drafting during that time I recognized (and appreciated) the foresight Al possessed to move the company forward not only technologically but also into new avenues of opportunity in the business world. He was the business man that looked to the future and expanded the company beyond the small installations that they had then and yet maintained that market to keep the company in “the game”.

    I moved on many years ago and have since retired but I still appreciate the vision he had that lead the company to the position they currently occupy

    My condolences to Rick, whom I knew only briefly, and to the rest of his family.



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