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The Paul Ecke Ranch, Inc. Business Records and Family Papers

Identifier: SC001

Scope and Contents

The Ecke collection consists primarily of the business and administrative records documenting the operations, sales, strategic planning, correspondence and marketing efforts of The Paul Ecke Ranch, Inc., from its origin in the early 1900s to its eventual sale to the Dutch-based Agribio Group in 2012. The bulk of the records reflect business operations from 1923 (when the business moved from Los Angeles to Encinitas, CA) to 2012, and cover business operations across the United States, as well as in Europe, Asia and South America.

Types of records include: Business records – These records document the transactions, decisions and activities that informed daily business operations, and facilitated growth, expansion, and strategic planning. They include meeting files and minutes, financial records, administrative documents, legal documents (agreements with international affiliates, patent applications, royalty payments, real estate sales), business plans, correspondence, memoranda, purchase orders and invoices, shipping receipts, and procurement and supply records. Some records are in German, including correspondence, marketing materials and reports;

Marketing and publicity material – Catalogs, brochures, press clippings, TV spots, and informational material about plant types and care;

Research material – Plant care guides, research into the trials and advancement of horticulture by the University of Tennessee Agricultural Experiment Station, Colorado State University, and the Massachusetts Horticultural Society, recommendations to treat plant disease, guidelines provided by the Center for Disease Control etc.;

Trade magazines – Encinitas Magazine, Quail Botanical Gardens magazine, Agricultural Research magazine, Grower Talks magazine etc.;

Prints and photographs – These include color and black-and-white photographs of various sizes and types of poinsettias, greenhouse operations, aerial photographs of the ranch and other growing areas, staff and key employees at the ranch, family members, postcards, negatives and slides;

Artifacts – These include textiles (shirts with the Ecke logo), plaques and awards, framed memorabilia, ranch signs, artwork, model train, commemorative shovel, coffee cups, an empty metal safe, vintage machines such as a receipt printer, etc.;

Aerial pictures and maps - depicting ranch land, maps filed with county tax form submissions, maps filed with insurance policies, maps of offsite production facilities in Guatemala etc., and of real estate holdings, including Carltas;

Family papers – These include personal correspondence, photographs, family memorabilia, awards and medals, personal trips, ephemera from birthday and anniversary celebrations, school papers etc..

Subjects include: - Business growth and development - Trends and developments in the floriculture and horticulture industry - Employee-worker relations, including impact of the Bracero program - Impact of World War II on business - Real estate developments in Encinitas and the local region - Ecke family history


  • ca. 1900-ca. 2013


Language of Materials

English, German, Spanish, Japanese

Conditions Governing Access

Important update: In-person research is currently limited and subject to change. Please contact CSUSM Special Collections at to discuss how we may help with your research needs. We will do our best to help you.

Please send an email to or call 760-750-4312 to get in touch with Archives staff. The Special Collections and University Archives Reading Room is accessible by appointment only, Monday-Friday, 8am - 4pm. Final requests for materials must be made one hour prior to closing. Please submit requests for archival materials at least 24 hours in advance of desired appointment. Materials requested over the weekend will be available on the following Tuesday at the earliest. Please note that Special Collections and University Archives observes all campus holiday closures as noted in the Library Calendar.

The Ecke collection includes records with restricted access, including medical records, documents listing Social Security numbers, personnel records, archival original media (including fragile original photographic formats, audio and/or video recordings, and disk media), and materials named in the gift agreement as restricted to use for a stipulated period of time. The Special Collections and Archives department does not itself waive such restrictions, nor will it act as an advocate for any researcher seeking such waivers. Access to restricted materials requires the permission of the donor or donor’s agent, and the application process is the responsibility of the researcher.

Conditions Governing Use

Property rights to the physical object belong to CSUSM Library. Intellectual rights, including copyright, are retained by the creators and their heirs. It is the responsibility of the researcher to determine who holds the copyright and pursue the copyright owner or his or her heir for permission to publish.

Researchers are required to wear gloves provided by Special Collections when reviewing photographic materials.

Biographical / Historical

The history of The Paul Ecke Ranch, Inc. begins with the arrival of the Ecke family in the United States in 1902. Albert Ecke arrived in 1902 from Germany with his wife, Henrietta, and their four children, Hans, Margaret, Paul (1895-1991) and Frieda. A former teacher, Albert operated a vegetarian sanitarium in Germany prior to the move. Once in the U.S., the family lived in Eagle Rock, Hollywood, where they initially cultivated mostly fruits and vegetables. In 1906, the family moved to Hayworth Avenue in Hollywood. Later that year, Margaret died unexpectedly in a shooting accident and the family briefly returned to Europe (Zurich, Switzerland) in April 1906. However by October, they were back in the United States. In addition to their farm, Albert also invested in real estate. It wasn't until 1910 that the Eckes added poinsettias to their farming endeavors.

Paul Ecke Sr. took over the family business when Albert Ecke passed away in 1919. He shifted the focus to poinsettias and moved operations to Encinitas in 1923. He purchased 40 acres bordering Saxony Road (formerly the Kincaid property) for $150 an acre. On New Year's Eve in 1924, he eloped, marrying Magdalena Maurer, for whom the Magdalena Ecke Family YMCA is named. They eventually established a 945-acre farm. Paul Ecke Sr. was inducted into the Floriculture Hall of Fame in 1970. He died in 1991 at age 96. 

Paul Ecke Jr. (1925-2002) assumed leadership of the business in 1955. He earned a degree in floriculture from The Ohio State University and expanded growth of the business from out of the fields into greenhouses. In 1957, the family formed a subsidiary called Carltas Company, a real estate company that developed the land left fallow by the move into greenhouses. Ecke Jr. also began marketing poinsettias as the Christmas flower and made television shows his target. He sent blooming poinsettia plants free of charge to the set decorators of dozens of televised Christmas specials during the early 1970s, and secured media coverage in publications. Paul Ecke Jr. sat on the first California State University San Marcos (CSUSM) advisory council in the 1980s, helping to advocate for and create the institution in 1989.

Paul Ecke III (1955-) joined the family business in 1987. He has a bachelor’s degree in horticulture from Colorado State University and an MBA from the Fuqua School of Business, Duke University. Paul Ecke III became CEO in 1991 and responded to competition by founding an offshore poinsettia cutting operation, Paul Ecke de Guatemala, with 1.2 million square feet of greenhouses and packing facilities. The original ranch in Encinitas was mostly used for research breeding. In 1987 the Carltas Development Company was formed to consolidate future development activities. Carltas sold 180-acres of Ecke-owned property to Legoland, in addition to the Carlsbad Company Stores outlet shopping center. It developed a 450-acre office park and hotel project on the hillsides above Carlsbad's Flower Fields. In addition, it orchestrated the Encinitas Ranch project, which includes a regional mall, municipal golf course, and a 1,100-home subdivision. Paul Ecke III also developed Flower Fields Alliance, an association of spring-plant businesses such as Yoder Brothers Inc. of Barberton, Ohio, Fischer USA and Goldsmith Seeds. In 2006, the business acquired the geranium nursery, Oglevee Ltd. of Connellsville, Pennsylvania, which commanded around 25% of the U.S. geranium market at the time.

In April 2012, 67 acres of the remaining Ecke Ranch property were sold to The Leichtag Foundation based in Carlsbad. In August 2012, the poinsettia operations of the Ecke Ranch were sold to the Dutch-based Agribio Group, marking the end of the Ecke family’s involvement in the business.


Approx. 600 Cubic Feet


The Paul Ecke Ranch, Inc. Business Records and Family Papers at California State University San Marcos Library include approximately 600 cubic ft. of paper records, prints and photographs, digital and analog media, and artifacts documenting daily operations of the business i.e. the breeding, development, production and marketing of flowering plants, particularly the poinsettia. While the bulk of the records document the national and international sales, strategic planning, research and development, correspondence and marketing efforts of the business from 1923 to 2012, the collection also includes the family papers of three generations of the Ecke family. As of February 2019, the collection is being arranged, described and rehoused at California State University San Marcos Library.


As of October 2018, the Ecke collection is being processed at California State University San Marcos Library. In the absence of a distinct original order, records are arranged (chronologically) within 15 series: 1). Awards and honors; 2). Business operations; 3). Community engagement; 4). Correspondence; 5). International collaboration; 6). Invoices and receipts; 7). Management and administration; 8). Marketing materials; 9). Periodicals; 10). Personal and family papers; 11). Photographs; 12). Press and public relations; 13). Research and development; 14). Shipping and transportation; and 15). Partnerships and subsidiaries

Physical Location

Special Collections and Archives, Kellogg Library, California State University San Marcos

Custodial History

The Ecke collection was donated to California State University San Marcos by Paul Ecke III on behalf of The Ecke Family Foundation on December 10, 2013. Accruals were received in 2018.

Related Materials

Mark Freeman Papers, MS-0113, Special Collections and University Archives, Library and Information Access, San Diego State University. Finding aid:

Processing Information

Aditi Worcester, Processing Archivist; Melissa Haire, Ecke Fellow; Vincent Lussier, Ecke Fellow; Angelo Salvador, Ecke Fellow; Emilie Goonan, Ecke Fellow; April Lycans, Student Assistant

The Paul Ecke Ranch, Inc. Business Records and Family Papers
Special Collections, California State University San Marcos Library
In Progress
Aditi Worcester
October 2018
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Code for undetermined script

Repository Details

Part of the CSUSM Special Collections Repository

California State University San Marcos Library
333 S. Twin Oaks Valley Rd
San Marcos California 92096-0001 United States