COLUMBUS GROVE — Columbus Grove is a village with a population of 2,086 people. It also is the home to four greenhouses.
They’re all owned by individuals who dedicated their lives to providing customer service and quality products for the region, said Jean Wright, co-owner of K&J Greenhouse.
McAdams Greenhouse, 621 W Sycamore St., was the first greenhouse to open in Columbus Grove in 1898. The wholesale operation was first owned by A.F. McAdams, was passed it down to his son, Newton Day, then his son, Tom McAdams. His son, David Adams, took over the operation in the 1990s.
“We started with seed cleaning and also had the three small greenhouses in the front where we used to grow a lot of things outside,” David McAdams said. “We evolved from using clay pots to plastic and garden hoses instead of the gardening tools that they used in the past.”
Ken Wright, co-owner of K&J Greenhouse, 10765 Road Z, is a first-hand witness of the gradual transition of the McAdams greenhouse over the years. While attending high school, Ken Wright worked for Tom McAdams, went off to college and worked an additional eight years for Tom when he returned from college in 1970.
It was the Great Blizzard of 1978, one of the most historic winter storms in U.S. history, that changed it all. The storm caused significant damage to one of the McAdams greenhouses, leaving Tom McAdams with an arduous project to revive the facility.
Despite the damage, Ken Wright saw an opportunity to start his own business. In 1978 he acquired his property, fixed it up and that same year opened up shop, naming that facility K&J Greenhouses.
“Our businesses probably mirrored each other in a lot of ways,” Ken Wright said. “We both do a lot of the same things. We share a lot of our customers; we share equipment and buy products that we borrow from each other from time to time.”
Both wholesale businesses service garden centers and retail stores. Their largest customers are local fundraisers. Through fundraisers with schools, churches and various organizations, they sell their products, which are in turn resold.
At McAdams, customers can purchase geraniums, one of the most popular flowers, and various assortments of hanging baskets, new guinea impatiens, petunias and more. K&J also specializes in geraniums, hanging baskets, poinsettias, hydrangeas and lilies.
The Wrights and McAdams agree that if customers are looking for quality plants and flowers, it is best to order at a greenhouse instead of a box store.
“That’s what brings our fundraisers and garden centers to us, because the things we grow you couldn’t find in a box store,” Ken Wright said. “We cater to our markets and do things that bigger operations won’t take the time or cannot do.”
One of the biggest advantages of being a greenhouse that focuses on wholesale in Columbus Grove is that the biggest one is approximately 60 to 70 miles away.
“It allows us to take advantage of the local market. We both pride ourselves on good service and getting the product to our customers on time,” Ken Wright said. “We will bend over backwards to get the product to their customers.”
Jon Neu, who owns both Indian Trail, 205 Veterans Highway, and Greenhouse on Main, 300 N. Main St., two retail greenhouses, also realizes the importance of providing his customers with quality service and products, as he is a third generation farm market professional.
“We go for uniqueness, quality and customer service,” Neu said. “We do grow some of the basics, but people travel from eight or 10 different counties to come here. It’s kind of a destination, so we are grateful that we draw from that big of an area.”
Each fall Neu makes sure his sales representative purchases 10 to 15 new items on the market that people have yet to see. Hanging baskets and various proven winter plants have been the most popular. Social media has been a great help for him when it comes to marketing his products.
“We still do a lot of print and radio, but recently I’ve seen how the Facebook stuff has really taken off,” Neu said.
Besides marketing, Neu takes the time to educate his customers to ensure they’re able to maintain the plants they purchase.
One of the first conversations he has with customers is about the environment in which the plant will live, whether it will have sun, shade or any kind of filters. He also informs customers about proper baskets for the proper location and the importance of watering techniques and fertilization.
“That’s what separates you from the box stores,” Neu said. “We will spend as much time as you want. Our staff is knowledgeable, and if we don’t know the answer we will get you the answer.”
Customers who shop at Indian Trail can find anything from shrubs to bushes, mulches, top soils, fertilizers, chemicals, hanging baskets, specialty containers and combinations pots. One of his biggest services is filling pots for customers.
“This is a popular service for the younger group,” he said. “They’re spending their money, but they are not on their hands and knees in the dirt.”
On the other hand, customers can find the same products at Greenhouse on Main but on a smaller scale to continue to serve the three generations of customers from the Lugibills, the previous family that sold the property.
“They gave us numbers and products and lists, and I can’t thank them enough for helping us transition,” he said.
Neu, as well the Wrights and McAdam, are grateful for the support the community and look forward to continuing their excellent customer service and quality products.
“I think that Grove is unique in very different ways,” Jean Wright said. “We have four greenhouses, and we are happy to service the community. We just all love Grove, and we are proud of the village.”
Reach Camri Nelson at 567-272-0456 or on Twitter @CamriNews