Grower Larry Boven of Boven’s Quality Plants in Kalamazoo, Mich., has sold his business to two enterprising young growers.
The 14-acre Van Boven’s greenhouse facility was sold to grower employee Nirmal Shah, who grew up in India and came to this country to pursue a career in horticulture at Penn State University, earning his degree in horticulture and business. He joined Boven’s fresh out of school six years ago.
The sale closed in August and Shah has changed the name of the business to Plants Unlimited. He specializes in growing blooming potted plants and hanging baskets and is a contract grower for Masterpiece Flower Co., which serves Meijer and Home Depot.
The original seven-acre Boven’s facility six miles away was purchased by another grower employee, Kris Van de Streek. He is retaining the name Boven’s Quality Plants. Boven’s daughter, Laurie, still works in the office. Van de streek’s customers are Menards and independent garden centers. While his greenhouses are wall-to-wall poinsettias right now, Shah is not growing any and specializing in specialty crops, like cyclamen.
Boven, himself, started in the business at age 22, 45 years ago. “At age 67, my enthusiasm, thought processes and incentive to buy the best and newest machinery is different than it was 45 years ago. I’ve outgrown that,” he says. “They’re more aggressive and better suited to the marketplace than I am today.”
He is staying involved in an advisory capacity for as long as the young growers would like him to. “Technically, I’m out. I’m serving at their will,” he says. “I thought they’d keep me busy as a consultant, but they haven’t asked for any help, which is fine. They’re doing fine without me.”
Boven insists he’s not retired. His latest venture is Boven Farms, a horse-raising business with his daughter and granddaughter on 70 acres of land he retained after selling 30 acres to Van de Streek.
“I’m keeping my eyes open for new business opportunities,” he says. “I’m not ready to sit in the house and watch the soap operas!”