fb pixel

Log In

Reset Password

Home Grown

Editor's note: This is one in a weekly series of profiles on locally owned and operated businesses in Southern Oregon.

What do you do and how long have you been doing it?

We are a retail nursery and garden center, selling plants and garden supplies and we've been at this for 20 years. I bought out my dad (Kevin) last September. I've been running the retail part entirely for the past few years, while he was running the growing area.

How long have you lived in the Rogue Valley?

All of my life, and I attended Medford Senior High School.

What inspired you to go into this line of work?

It started with my dad, it was a hobby for him when he was a kid. He worked for the Medford Parks Department for years and then worked for a couple of nurseries in the valley. Then he started his own nursery in 1988. I went to college at Oregon State and he decided to build a business he could pass along to the next generation. The business wasn't big enough at first to support all of us, so I worked on the grounds at Rogue Valley Medical Center before I came back to work for the business.

What decision or action would you change if you could do it again?

One of the things I wish we would've done is to have bought the property where we are at. It was a big decision and we didn't do it earlier. But it was offered to me the other day and it's a lot more expensive now.

What's the toughest business decision you've made?

Being in a seasonal business there are ups and downs and that can be kind of difficult. Some of the toughest decisions I make have a lot to do with hiring. We're very particular about who we hire, and there are a lot of good people who end up not getting a job here. We look for great people, and even though there are lot of them out there, it's tough to tell them no. Our busy season usually begins in April and runs through June. Seasonal employees start in March and go through July and then we'll usually pick a few to stay longer and take us through the fall season. We do about 80 percent of our business in about 20 percent of the year.

Who are your competitors?

Grange Co-op definitely does a tremendous amount of business in the garden industry. They've been around for a long time and have great management. Southern Oregon Nursery is a great family business and people get the feel of family when they are there, we strive to be like them.

What are your goals?

We're on an acre now and we could easily triple that by buying the property. My vision is to be a benchmark for client relations in Southern Oregon, helping people to create their dreams through their natural living space. Our mission is to provide personalized products and services of exceptional quality in a fun, relaxing, inspirational environment. We're not looking at being in more than one location now, that's beyond the scope of what I would like to think about at the moment. This year we are going to produce and maintain, city baskets (hanging baskets with flowers) for the city of Eagle Point. We'll be offering that service to other cities as well.

What training or education did you need?

I studied horticulture at Oregon State University, but I grew up in the nursery and learned through the school of hard knocks working for my dad. Some of the best lessons I've learned have been from industry people who have been there before. I learned a lot from local businessmen, talking with them, but I have also been to industry-specific seminars and conferences that have been inspirational and helpful as well.

What's your advice for budding entrepreneurs?

Pay close attention to entrepreneurs who have owned businesses for a long time and take wisdom from them. I learned a lot from my dad, who basically ran the business for years. His ability to learn to handle the finances through thick and thin was a key part to his success. Watching what he's done has been important. He's been my mentor.

To suggest an idea for this column, contact reporter Greg Stiles at 776-4463 or e-mail business@mailtribune.com

Tim Elbert owns the Four Seasons Nursery on Crater Lake Ave. pennell photo - Bob Pennell