What Our Clients Say...

Just like you, customer satisfaction is important to us. But our ultimate goal is to help our Clients build successful businesses. You can reply on us to help you increase sales, improve operations and retain more profit. We earn our wings every day and will continue to provide essential programs and services we’ve become recognized for, while continuing to look for new ways to exceed your expectations. 

But don't take our word for it... read what our Clients have to say!
Here's some common words they use to describe The Group!


J.D. Boone – Dothan Nurseries, Dothan, AL
I can't say enough about The Garden Center Group, and those aren't just hollow words. I would not have the successful business I have, the extra cash flow I have, the happy staff I have, without The Garden Center Group. I'm glad I found them early when I was just starting out. They saved me from making countless mistakes. They continue to give me great advice and suggestions every year that more than pay for the yearly retainer fee. I can honestly say for every dollar I've spent with the Garden Center Group, I've made ten dollars. Probably a lot more. Best decision I ever made. Life changing in many ways.


 Tim Elbert – Four Seasons Nursery Inc., Central Point, OR

The value of peers is priceless. Having people to join us in celebrating the good times, and challenge us in the hard times is to me, the most valuable commodity there is in business. The Garden Center Group has made me a better businessman for sure but it is also helping me train up the next generation to successfully move our business into the future. The Garden Center Group has been a big part of our success through some of the most challenging times in our nation’s history and the people that make up the group, providers and members, have written indelibly on my heart and life.


Ken Lain – Watters Garden Center, Prescott, AZ
Agriculture is famous for Co-ops, and The Garden Center Group is a Co-op of hundreds of nurseries banding together to retain the very best consultants in the retail industry. It can be lonely running a garden center by yourself, but not when you are part of 'The Group.'  We are a Fraternity/Sorority of owners that look after each other, share intimate details financially, commiserate, celebrate each other’s success. Our profit has doubled since joining, our marketing and branding far better, the facility flows, with POS data that is accurate and manageable. We often call other owners with questions about how they run aspects of their business, and they always share if you are a 'Group Member.'  I couldn't think of running a garden center without my Garden Center Group membership.


Mel Shipley – Civano Nursery, Tuscon, AZ
The Garden Center Group provides all the tools you need to grow your business professionally while maintaining work life balance. As a member you will learn what your weekly sales numbers really mean and how you compare within the industry, how to scale inventory and pricing to make profit, train and retain employees, create money making displays, and so much more. Group members also have the rare privilege of interacting with other garden center owners and their employees all across the country. We share openly and honestly our successes and failures, after all, we are you! Join now and take your business to a higher level. Joining The Garden Center Group was one of the best decisions I ever made!


Dave Dickman – Dickman Farms, Auburn, NY
While the peer to peer interaction and expert advice from the Group consultants is highly valuable, the financial benchmarking alone is worth the price of admission!

 


 


Gail Vanik – Four Seasons Greenhouse & Nursery, Dolores, CO
I can’t even begin to express the value in being involved in The Garden Center Group and attending Fall Event. The first time I went to Fall Event was in 2006 in Hartford, CT. When I was coming back, I called my husband from the airport and said, “I’m going to change our company and business.” He laughed and said, “How are you going to do that?” I said, “Watch me!” And we have done exactly that - changed almost everything - and for the better. Perhaps the best part of The Group and The Fall Event however are the people. The information and advice from Robert, Steve, Sid, and Danny, have all helped us grow as a company and as individuals. They’ve helped us set attainable goals. The WDR is an incredible tool and there aren’t many industries where such information is shared so freely and willingly and that’s just one of the ways in which this group is unique. The relationships we’ve formed with our peers is the real value, however. No matter your size, geographic location, or revenue level, we have a network of people we can call for advice and who are always willing to help. It’s that sharing across all levels that makes membership in The Garden Center Group a “must have” each year for us. My advice is... Just do it!


Mike Berns – Berns Garden Center, Middletown, OH
We joined The Group early on and have not looked back. They are a solid and consistent group of advisors for the garden center industry. Being part of a group of successful garden center owners, whom you develop long term relationships with and who will take your call and share their expertise with you, is a great asset.

 


Victor Flaherty – Plants for All Seasons, Houston, TX
Being a member of The Garden Center Group allows you to gauge your garden center’s performance by showing you what others like you are able to achieve in the same business and even in the same geographical area. The yearly P&L Report points out your weaknesses and your strengths and helps you realize goals you otherwise would never have had. The Garden Center Group is a great value!


Cameron Rees – Skinner Garden Store, Topeka, KS
Sometimes it feels like you’re all alone. When you’re running a business, even when you’re surrounded by exceptional staff, you’re dealing with things no one else is. And sometimes you need help with those things. It might be advice or constructive criticism, or it may be just getting a chance to vent with someone who’s going through the same things. Being a part of The Garden Center Group has given me access not only to a list of industry experts in every aspect of our business, but also connections with some of the best garden center operators in our industry, folks who are dealing with the exact same issues. Ten years ago, when we joined, I was just taking over our business from my father… and I not only felt alone… I felt lost. Connecting with The Group gave me the direction I needed and the support I was looking for help me through the transition. Through the years since, my connections within the The Group have helped me navigate our business through multiple challenges, challenges I don’t think we would have made it through otherwise. As a Group member, I always have someone to turn to, and I’m not alone anymore!


Tom Estabrook – Estabrook's Farm & Greenhouses, Yarmouth, ME
Joining the Garden Center Group has been the single best decision we have made in the past 20 Years. We should have done it sooner! The money we spend with The Group gives us much more value year after year than the cost. The Group gives us networking and keeps us on track year after year. Join today and buy into the process and your business will flourish with the effort you put into it.


Lowell and Bonita Weinstein – Reston Farm Garden Market, Reston, VA
We are thrilled to be members of The Garden Center Group. We were referred by another member and it was the most impactful decision we’ve made in our business. From the start we plugged in to everything we could. All the members were so forthcoming with information and very willing to help each other. Step-by-step we made improvements to all parts of our organization. Our only regret is that we didn’t find out about The Group sooner.


Peg Castorani – Gateway Garden Center, Hockessin, DE
The Garden Center Group supports its members on all levels for the independent garden center:  financial, marketing, HR, and facilities. We are provided with inspiration and information, both of which are critical. The Group provides a forum for the experiences of owners and managers of many garden centers. This in itself is invaluable.


Mollie Wadsworth – GreenScapes Garden Center & Landscape Co., Whitesboro, NY
We LOVE "The Group"! The Garden Center Group is second to none as far as resources go. Whether you are looking for consulting firms that specialize in our industry or marketing information or just a sounding board for questions and concerns - The Group provides all of that. I'm amazed at how similar and in the same breath, how different, all of our Garden Centers are across the country. It is always fun to see photos of displays and messages of encounters with customers.  We all share ideas and continue to grow in our industry; all of which would not be possible without The Group. The people involved are experts in their fields and provide a wealth of knowledge that would not be as readily available without The Group.


Lynnette Shonnard – Shonnard’s Nursery, Corvallis, OR
The Garden Center Group was a life-line for our business. With the help from Sid and Steve they put us on the right track to profitability. The lasting relationships with the other members have given us the connections and friendships. Jean has helped us on many occasions, it is great to know there is someone an email or phone call away. This will be a great resource for our children as they take over the business.


Nathan Dunham – Covington's Nursery and Landscape Co., Rowlett, TX
The access The Garden Center Group offers to experts is a huge boost to the business.  As human resources have become more and more complex we rely heavily on Seawright and Associates to fill our HR needs.  Steve Bailey has been a huge asset to the financial success of the nursery, his guidance when we very first joined The Group was invaluable and continues to be today.  Robert Hayter assisted with 2 major redos of the nursery facility making the nursery facility much more user friendly.


Scott Pearce – For Garden’s Sake, Durham, NC
The thing we have appreciated most about The Group is the reminder that we are not alone. This is not the easiest business and having others to bounce ideas off of and share in the good times as well as during the challenging times makes it all a bit easier. Sometimes a question comes to mind and I am immediately able to ask that to over 100 people doing the same thing we are day in and day out and that has made all the difference in the right and wrong decisions sometimes. There is power in community and this gives us that right where we need it most.


Liz Lark-Riley – Rockledge Gardens, Rockledge, FL
The ability to reach out to others in the same position in the same industry, especially during such unusual times, has been invaluable. The group tools, webinars, and being able to phone the experts when in doubt is incredibly advantageous, always, and especially now. It's extremely comforting to know we're not alone.


Todd Brockshus – Del’s Garden Center, Spencer, IA
We worked with Steve Bailey and watched the results of the Weekly Department Reviews of garden center retailers and retail growers. After being a grower for decades, we decided to stop being a retail grower and instead change to becoming an annual and vegetable retailer. We made the switch in 2019 and our turns tripled in our annuals category. The Garden Center Group will tell you that turns yield 70% of profits and margins 30% of profits.  In 2020 the transition was complete and the relationships we developed with several growers really paid off!  We scheduled regular deliveries of annuals; container gardens and edibles for weeks 16 through 21. Specialty growers were added into the mix to bring our store decidedly different and beautiful choices for our guests. Sales of annuals have doubled this year as demand spiked. The relationships developed with these growers allowed our store to bring in extra product. The relationships with the growers allowed us to move forward weekly scheduled deliveries when we needed them most! Had we been a retail grower, our sales would have been capped with the product we produced. Thanks Steve Bailey and The Garden Center Group!


Michael Ludeman – Earth’s Art, Bend, OR
The fact that I get to see and hear what other IGC are doing across the country is invaluable to me. I can pick up the phone and call multiple consultants as well as garden centers and get the latest scoop on future and present buying trends. Great group and Great people to work with.


Lisa Graf – Graf Growers, Akron, OH
We are so grateful for the Garden Center Group and the positive impact it has had on our business. It is a unique opportunity to work collectively with the service providers, members and vendors to improve our businesses and share our expertise. The group is very forward thinking and provides in-depth information that is relevant and current. The value of The Fall Event is the opportunity to network, learn and share experiences to help each other. It always reinvigorates me and stretches us to improve our business.


Alonzo Johnson – New Garden Gazebo, Greensboro, NC
I would say to someone who is considering joining The Group, that the value is in both the plethora of resource tools provided and the daily threads of concerns & cheers.




Carol Thomas – Green Haven Garden Center, Hamilton, NJ

I love The Garden Center Group because of the connections with others who have the same goals and the same challenges. I like having a helpful group of people who have the knowledge and experience to answer my questions and are happy to do so. The friendships too!


Bill Romence – Romence Gardens, Grand Rapids, MI
The Garden Center Group is a group of like minded individuals who are very open about their business. I have always come home with new and creative ideas from group talks, and discussions. A really great bunch of people.


Erma Rhadigan – Ray Wiegand's Nursery, Macomb, MI
I really need The Garden Center Group because there is a wealth of information from Danny, Steve, Sid, Jean, John, Robert and the others.  I really enjoy networking with the other garden center owners and managers.  Every day I find something informative or I can give an informative answer to someone else.  Learned a lot especially this season.


John & Connie Brzozowski – American Tree, Inc, Almont, MI
We have found The Group to be a very helpful resource to our business! The access to the service providers in itself is worth being involved in The Group. And the networking online and at Fall Event with The Group members is just another added benefit.  Seeing all the different ideas and the sharing of knowledge is a valuable resource. We have found that the information provided by the service providers has forced us to become more accountable to ourselves. It would have been beneficial to be a member long before, but we weren't aware of what The Group really did. We think in today's day and age, with retail the way it is, you need to have The Garden Center Group as your partner to navigate thru challenges that we all face.


Heather Buchanan – Buchanan's Native Plants, Houston, TX
The Garden Center Group has been a lifeline to what is happening in the industry in the best of times and during more challenging times. The resources that they provide have helped me navigate situations and find solutions to issues in my business. I would recommend their knowledge and the collective knowledge of The Group of independent garden centers to any person in this industry.  


Jim Borenstein – South Pleasantburg Nursery, Greenville, SC
The Group has a treasure-trove of knowledge and experience that is easily and frequently shared for those willing to listen (or ask!). Not just the exceptional Group staff/providers, but even the numerous garden center owners in the group. E-mail communication on all sorts of various topics occur regularly, but the biggest networking/sharing/educational takes place at “The Fall Event" gathering, which is a "can't miss" event. I have learned so much from this wealth of talent that has greatly improved my business and even my "life-outlook." Overall, a good investment of money and time.


Dave Flack – Bountiful Acres, Hollicong, PA
I would highly recommend joining The Group as I have found many benefits as an owner. The team of experts that they have working for The Group is extensive and I have found all of them to be great at what they do. The other owners that you will meet are very nice and open for answering questions or bouncing ideas off of. The Fall Event is a great time where you have the chance to meet other owners in a social setting, it is always held at a great location, and the speakers are very informative and motivating.


Dennis Fix – FarWest Garden Center, Boise, ID
The Garden Center Group has provided assistance with our Garden Center at critical times in our business development. Their team of service providers have helped our bottom line, saved costly mistakes, provided insight to profitable ideas, and great business and marketing ideas to build a better business.

When I first joined the GCG I thought our Garden Center was doing ok but hoped we could improve our bottom line. I had Steve Bailey come in and do a financial consultation. His knowledge and ideas allowed us to weather the "Great Recession". I am convinced we wouldn't have survived without his assistance. Now our Garden Center is listed as one of the more profitable Garden Centers.

The Covid 19 pandemic is another example of how the GCG can help or save your Garden Center. With all that has happened in 2020, the GCG provided the most up to date and detailed information on navigating the pandemic. Their collective brain trust provided information to keep your doors open, keep employees safe, employee leave, unemployment, applying for loans, supply chain issues, laws and constant updates.  

The Garden Center Group is not really an option if you are wanting to survive and thrive in today's retail Garden Center industry. The Garden Center Group is a requirement. They will save you time and money while helping you build the best possible Garden Center.


Jeff Webeler – White Oak Gardens, Cincinnati, OH
I cannot express the appreciation of support The GCG has provided us; from comments of other members, Service Providers comments and ideas to the professional guidance from Seawright & Associates. I cannot imagine having to endure this pandemic on our own. Thank you for the service you provide!

The GCG has helped us understand the bigger picture. White Oak had a growing retail GC since 1979, over the years our sales had shown continual growth, our profits were what we thought were acceptable or what we had become accustomed to and lived with.

In 2007, we joined The Group and attended The Fall Event that year. That trip changed our frame of mind!  Exposed to so many like-minded progressive Garden Center owners helped us to understand we did not know higher sales and more importantly, higher PROFITS were possible. It broke our belief window. White Oak Gardens went from being just another place to buy plants to a dominant plant resource center in our market.

Increasing profits provided more resources to make improvements to our facility, increasing wages for quality staff, which grew sales! It has become a perpetual cycle of improvement.


John Crook – Town & Country Gardens, Idaho Falls, ID
The great thing about The Group is all of the interaction and feedback from other garden center owners on how they handle issues common (or not so common) to us all. That was extremely valuable during the COVID-19 crisis, but also in getting ideas on products, equipment, policies, procedures, and marketing during “normal” times. And, of course, the financial enlightenment that comes through participating in the weekly numbers and yearly P&L Study is invaluable.


Jay Meadows – Meadows Farms, Chantilly, VA
I have never appreciated the professional associations and groups that I belong to as much as this year and The Garden Center Group has been the best of the best. The COVID-19 crisis each week presented unprecedented challenges and The Garden Center Group’s accumulated wealth of knowledge and expertise has been there for me to rely on all along the way. Thank you.


Dan Estacio – Terra Gardens Nursery & Bark, Salem, OR
I would definitely recommend The Garden Center Group to anyone who operates a Garden Center and feels like there is ‘room for improvement’ in their business.

We have relied heavily on our contacts within The Garden Center Group this year. With the uncertainties of COVID-19, with every state coming up with different plans and then with Federal assistance programs and unemployment changes that were often fluid and difficult to figure out, it was extremely important to have a place to get answers! We were able to get a PPP loan because of help from Seawright and Associates and from great financial / business advice from Steve Bailey, Tim Quebedeaux and Sid Raisch. Using these professional’s help as part of our membership has made navigating these unusual times much less precarious.

We are now working on expanding our facility and again we are relying upon the expert help available with The Garden Center Group. Robert Hayter has helped us with initial design and is helping us to steer the process on we move along.

Last but not least is profitability. We were very inconsistent in turning a profit prior to coming into The Group, since we have been following the advice we were given here, we have been consistently profitable. We still have many things that we can improve on, but with solid plans in place it gives a lot of confidence moving forward.


Melanie and Russ Bedner – Bedner’s Farm & Greenhouse, McDonald, PA
We've been members of the Group for a little over a year now, and I wish we had found them years ago. The expertise, insight and advice from the service providers is priceless. The comradery, support and ideas from group members is wonderful. I can't imagine having gone through pandemic challenges this spring without them. We loved The Fall Event, and can't wait for the next one. Thank you to Danny Summers for doing an amazing job managing and leading The Group, and for your passion and dedication to our industry!


Terri McGregor – Earth Works Unlimited,  Jacksonville, FL
Where can I begin? I feel like we've come so far in the year and a half as members. It began with a search for a nursery design consultant and did we hit pay dirt with Robert Hayter!

The design Robert created for us has turned out beautifully. But his knowledge of business has been just as valuable. Our first trip to the annual meeting was insightful and we have made many great contacts. But the help we received by following The Group communications during COVID has been invaluable! Starting with the campaign to get essential status, we utilized a fellow member's letter and spread the word in Northeast Florida. We haven't missed a beat. Also, the advice about ways to institute online shopping with curbside pick-up and "Garden Kits-To-Go" worked perfectly. We have done so well with all of these options. It is amazing how easy it can be to do things you've had on your list to try when you're given a tried and true road map. One the best business decisions we have made.


Sam Brown – Fiddleheads, Dalton, GA
The addition of The Garden Center Group has provided a wealth of information through their experts on retainer. Without their guidance through the COVID situation, I would have had a much more difficult and stressful spring season without their knowledge at my fingertips.


John Scott – Knollwood Garden Center, Beavercreek, OH
We are one of the original 8 stores that "hooked" up with Robert Hendrickson over 25 years ago before the "group" was "The Group". I have been an absentee member paying my dues and sending my WDR reports faithfully but not utilizing many of the great programs available. Due to kids and family obligations I have not been attending fall meetings. Still faithfully paying my dues. I will say the support of The Group’s leaders and all members sharing their situations and information about making decisions and implementing strategies to survive the COVID-19 storm has made 10 years of membership dues worth every penny. On both a personal and business level The Group was a major factor in surviving and unbelievably thriving throughout this Pandemic. It is times like these that being a part of The Group pays its dividends well beyond yearly dues. Thank you all. 


Miranda Grimm – Grimm’s Gardens, Hiawatha, KS
The Garden Center Group is a wonderful resource for best practices in the garden center world. This is combined with experience from other owners/managers of garden centers and experts in different areas of business management (specific to garden centers). The Group has been extremely helpful, especially in navigating the last few months of uncertainty; there have been logical and practical suggestions on everything from the best sanitizing practices, to staffing, inventory, and much more. There is something comforting about connecting with others who are experiencing similar ups and downs as you! Thank you so much for all your work. There are many of us who truly do appreciate it!


Rolf Nelson – Nelson Water Gardens & Nursery, Inc., Katy, TX
One of the tremendous benefits of belonging to The Garden Center Group is access to a number of industry consultants as part of the membership. They have especially been helpful in these difficult times of dealing with COVID-19. From financial recommendations including updates on the PPP program to adding curbside, delivery, or opening recommendations with safety protocols and Human Resource protocols The Group and all of the consultants have been there to help guide the way. The sharing of information between group members is a great benefit to membership also.  


Todd Brockshus – Del’s Garden Center, Inc.  Spencer, IA
The Weekly Department Reviews were especially important to me this year!  As spring progressed from south to north across this country, I was able to get an idea of what the effect of the COVID-19 on garden centers. The Weekly Department Reviews (WDRs) quickly showed that even in areas that I considered to be hard hit with the virus; sales at garden centers in those areas appeared to be surging. Obviously State laws affected the results of some stores; but there appeared to be a surge for the products and services offered by my co-horts in other States. The WDRs gave us the confidence to continue shipping product as scheduled and our store was loaded with inventory when the demand hit after an Easter Sunday blizzard. 


Jesse Jenkins – Gill Landscape Nursery, Corpus Christi, TX
The Garden Center Group has been especially helpful as we’ve all had to deal with the Covid-19 curveball. Hearing and seeing how other garden centers have been able to change operations almost overnight has been amazing. My biggest challenge has been navigating a new set of HR rules, which has been eased greatly by the expert guidance from Seawright and Associates. 

My favorite part of The Fall Event 2019 (my first) was the round table discussions with Group service providers and other garden centers. That’s where everyone was able to ask real/specific/practical questions. That’s also where I was able to get a good sense of each service provider’s strengths and style.


Todd Brockshus – Del’s Garden Center,  Spencer, IA
One of the “GroupEs” messages in late March was an idea about “worship in place” as a marketing idea regarding Easter Lilies. Our store sells 90% of all Easter Lilies to churches. With churches cancelling services during the virus outbreak we were considering cancelling our Easter Lily order or severely cutting back our order. We decided to keep our order as placed and began to promote “worship in place” and “worship at home” on Facebook and with some radio promotions. Our store focused on the idea that Easter is going to be different this year so why not make it even more memorable with your own Easter garden at home. We sold out of Easter Lilies on Good Friday along with any thing else in bloom! Only seven Easter Lilies were sold to churches who wanted lilies for online services.  


Beth & Rick Simpson – Rolling Green Nursery, Greenland, NH
This year The Garden Center Group has been a lifeline – a lifesaver for how to navigate this unprecedented time. It has taken a village of consultants to help steer thru the challenges we have experienced. Say a prayer for all of us because the tsunami just keeps hitting us.