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Growing a Business – By Marion Webber

By Marion Webber

This article is brought to you by: D&M Tree Services
2787 Barth Rd, Kimball, 48074, Tel: 810-987-2888/ www.dmtreeservice.com

Do you have a dream? A desire to work for yourself! Why not put it into reality? You CAN do it if you believe in it whole heartily!

Starting Haskill’s Greenhouses in St. Clair was full of difficulties, but nothing was going to change my plans. Seeing my relatives in the business and watching them grow inspired me the most. Being able to take time off in the summer as a family and enjoy the “after season” was something I treasured as my children grew. We went on many camping trips and could really enjoy that much needed time off. The greenhouse business was one that was perfect for raising my children because they were always with me. No day care! As they grew up, they also learned how to work as well. It taught them how to deal with people, work with money, see the challenges in life and how to just keep on keeping on! Was it always easy? Absolutely NOT. Did it stop me. Absolutely NOT. You just move on to another day. Each year you learned from the past what worked and what didn’t. Each year was new challenges. Bad weather, furnaces shutting down (which is detrimental in growing plants.) If the power goes out overnight and you didn’t check the furnaces, it could freeze an entire greenhouse in less than an hour if it is cold enough. The worst was a hail storm. It was dark, right after a storm, and I went to check the greenhouses. Although it was in the summer and the houses were mostly empty, we still check them every night. Looking up with my flashlight I could see holes almost 2 inch round in one greenhouse. Then I froze! If it is in one it is in all the roofs. When daylight came I surveyed the damage and had a huge “pity” party with the employees and family. I got on the phone an reordered plastic for 33 greenhouses. Loss, yes. Quit, NO! There must be something in our blood, that never says quit!

How did we start? We found 5 acres that no one could get rezoned and went to the township to keep it agricultural (which is what the township wanted). Little did they know it was not going to be just a couple of greenhouses. Quite truthfully, neither did we. We didn’t have any money at that time. I do mean no money! Trying to start this with practically nothing was beyond hard. But….the low point was when I needed a loaf of bread for the family. I had only a little change, not enough. So what does one do…I walked along the road to pick up cans to get the 99 cents it would take to get the bread. Finally, knowing the bread at the gas station a quarter mile down the road was 99 cents, I walked, since the van was out of gas. They raised the price! Yikes. When you get this low in life there is no where to go but up! Now I have to take the van that was on empty to town and get my 99 cent bread. I did make it back with the van still on empty! Luckily it was close to opening season. The so-called parking lot was all mud! My first customer came in and spent $240.00. I will never forget her and that money to finally be able to buy groceries! Years later I told her how much her shopping meant to me at that particular time. The season went on and was so successful, that we built another greenhouse for the next season. Over the years we ended up with 33 greenhouses. Even with all the room, we still had to bring in semi loads of flowers because we could not keep up with the demand.

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Customer service was our business! It is what made Haskill’s Greenhouses successful. Caring about everyone personally was a priority for everyone that worked there. We all had the same heart! We worked with the local community. Schools needing to “rent” plants for proms, events. Churches needing seasonal flowers, Easter Lillies and Poinsettias. One elementary school sold 3 entire greenhouses of poinsettias for a school fund raiser! We not only catered to organizations, but each individual person. My husband would be on stand by for anyone who could not fit their purchases in their car, and would follow them home and deliver the rest of their order. At Christmas and Easter we would also take the remaining plants that didn’t sell to nursing homes and Medilodge so someone could enjoy the plants instead of discarding them. We would have children come in on buses, give them tours, and let them plant their special “Mother’s Day” pot. The list goes on, but without customer service in this day of “big box” stores, you could never compete. I remember when someone came in and told me they were building a Lowe’s in Port Huron and wondered why I wasn’t upset about it, I commented that I didn’t have time to worry about it! I was too busy making our own business successful. You have to stay focused!

If you have a dream. Go for it! With determination you can do it. Will it be easy? No. Is it worth it absolutely! Just know it will not be a 9 – 5 job. You may have to eat it and sleep it, but never give up. Accept the challenge!

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