Petitti And Eagle Creek Unite

Sometimes, the best career move one can make is to take a step back. Jill Bonner Cain reached that point with the birth of her baby boy in May and decided to sell the retail operation she founded in 2002, Eagle Creek Garden Center in Bainbridge, Ohio.

“The biggest thing was starting a family for me,” Cain says. “There are not enough hours in the day and  I want to raise my child, not just put him in daycare. With retail, it’s a 365-days-a-year, 24/7 kind of business.”

When Cain and her family began to discuss the idea of selling the upscale, destination garden center, one local garden center chain came to mind as a possible buyer: Petitti Garden Centers. Owned and operated by Angelo Petitti and his family, the Petittis had seven garden centers located throughout Northeast Ohio.

“There was really only one person who could take over an operation of that size and stature,” Cain says. “Petitti came to the forefront and was first on our list.”

A Quick Transition

Cain sat down with Angelo and AJ Petitti to discuss the deal in June, thinking a November 1 takeover date would work best for everyone, she says.

“Then Angelo suggested Aug. 1 to AJ and I, and our heads were reeling,” Cain says. “We only had about 15 days to make the transition. But then when we thought about it, and it made sense for them to take over sooner so they could bring merchandise in with enough time to have a good fall and Christmas season.”

The Petittis offered positions to all Eagle Creek retail employees and, in the end, kept 25. “We didn’t want to create any hardship,” AJ Petitti says. “It’s really been wonderful so far over there. It’s a great team.

Petitti’s plans to supply the majority of its needs at the Bainbiridge location from its own production  facilities in Columbia Station and Madison, Ohio, for the next year, and it will buy some plants from Eagle Creek Wholesale. But there are no plans to change anything about the facility.

“We’re going to go with it,” Petitti says. “AJ Pettiti says. “It’s a nice facility and the store was in great shape. We changed merchandise to mix in what we carry, plus a little refixturing but nothing earth-shattering. It was a great opportunity and truly a win-win for Jill and us.”

Cain says she gives Petitti’s credit for all they do, and that she was impressed with the way they handled the transition.
“When they moved in and started taking over our place, there was some overlap when we were both there,” she says. “They are a great family, great to deal with and they’ve really got a lot going on.”

Focusing On Wholesale

Now, Cain and her husband, Todd, run Eagle Creek Wholesale in Mantua, Ohio, which Cain founded in 1998. Jill works with the growers and runs the office while Todd heads up operations and expansion. The operation is adding an acre of MX glass greenhouse this year to help maximize the capabilities of the biomass boiler installed in the fall of 2006.

The expansion will also help Eagle Creek Wholesale change its mix of crops to accommodate current customers, adjusting from the 25 percent share it grew for its retail operation.

The wholesale operation sells to a wide breadth of customers now, including local grocery chains, independent garden centers, landscapers and farm markets.

“In talking with some of our customers, I think there’s a lot of room for growth,” Cain says. “Selling the garden center brought about an interesting change in that some people in retail who didn’t want to deal with us before started talking to us. I don’t know if they thought they were our competitors before, but it’s been interesting.”

Cain’s brother, John Bonner, who set Eagle Creek Wholesale on its path as an eco-friendly operation, recently left the business to pursue another career. The former general manager of Eagle Creek Wholesale was instrumental in pursuing grants to install a biomass boiler, as well as the first of the operation’s wind turbines. Cain is currently awaiting two grants to fund the operation’s second wind turbine, which she expects will go up sometime this year.

And Mentor Makes Nine

One month after taking over the facility in Bainbridge, Petitti’s announced it will open its ninth garden center March 1, 2011, in Mentor, Ohio, about 20 miles east of Cleveland.

“It’s going to be a 75,000-square-foot garden center with full selection,” AJ says. “We will offer a full selection of trees, shrubs, outdoor living and the whole gamut. The bulk of our plants will be supplied from our own growing facilities, but we have reached a point that we’ve maxed out our production. We’re going to have to order more from other growers.”

The facility will include an existing 19,500-square-foot building with a Cravo structure constructed next to it, by L.L. Klink. The Mentor location will hire about 35 full-time people, along with the same number of seasonal employees. “We’re going to be hiring from outside for the first time in about 10 years, and moving people around inside the company,” AJ says.

Adding a location near Mentor is an opportunity his family has been working on for years, AJ adds. “There really is not another great garden center out there, other than Gale’s Garden Center, which is all the way in Willoughby. The market was underserved.

We’ve been looking at it for a while and the opportunity presented itself and worked out very well.”
AJ adds that the current economic climate, while challenging, has provided opportunities that otherwise might not have come along.

“We will probably never see the opportunities we have with these two new stores again,” he says. “The economy is tough, but it’s going to get better eventually. We wanted to make sure we jumped all over these opportunities while we could. It’s really exciting – 2011 is going to be an awesome year.”

Leave a Reply

More From Marketing...

June 1, 2017

Reimagining a Brand: How Did We Do With Greenhouse Grower?

Changing the design and content strategy of a brand isn't easy, but we think the new Greenhouse Grower will help carry our innovative industry forward and allow us to better serve your information needs.

Read More
NICH Plants Do That infographic feature

April 11, 2017

New Infographic Highlights Economic Impact of Plants

A new report from the National Institute for Consumer Horticulture shows how horticulture positively affects people’s lives wherever they live, work, shop, and play.

Read More
National Garden Bureau New Website

March 22, 2017

National Garden Bureau’s New Website Features Mobile-Friendly Design, Marketing Tools

The new site is designed to serve as a home base to drive traffic from NGB’s social media community to one central location.

Read More
Latest Stories

June 1, 2017

Reimagining a Brand: How Did We Do With Greenhouse Grow…

Changing the design and content strategy of a brand isn't easy, but we think the new Greenhouse Grower will help carry our innovative industry forward and allow us to better serve your information needs.

Read More
NICH Plants Do That infographic feature

April 11, 2017

New Infographic Highlights Economic Impact of Plants

A new report from the National Institute for Consumer Horticulture shows how horticulture positively affects people’s lives wherever they live, work, shop, and play.

Read More
National Garden Bureau New Website

March 22, 2017

National Garden Bureau’s New Website Features Mobile-Fr…

The new site is designed to serve as a home base to drive traffic from NGB’s social media community to one central location.

Read More

March 7, 2017

Local Florists Celebrate Women’s Day and SAF Prom…

Florists across the U.S. are celebrating International Women's Day, March 8, and raising awareness for non-profit organizations. The Society of American Florists is raising its own awareness of what happens when women receive flowers with a new video for International Women's Day.

Read More
Savor New Website

February 16, 2017

Pleasant View Launches Updated Website for its Savor Ed…

The site is designed to offer a friendly and informative vehicle that delivers product information in an easy-to-navigate format.

Read More

January 24, 2017

Beekenkamp Plants B.V. to Take Over Marketing Sunny Ost…

Beekenkamp Plants B.V. will take over Sunny Holland B.V.'s marketing activities as of July 1, 2017, and begin offering Sunny Osteospermum to the supply chain.

Read More
gg-january-2017-cover-arizonaeast-feature

January 5, 2017

Why ArizonaEast Is Expanding Its Succulent Production T…

In Greenhouse Grower's January cover story, learn how Brian and Joe Vitale of ArizonaEast saw a chance to expand and diversify their New Jersey-based succulent operation, and why they jumped at the opportunity.

Read More
dummen-orange

October 18, 2016

Dümmen Orange Buys Rose Breeder, Participates In Petal …

Dümmen Orange will be hitting the streets of Columbus, OH, this week, handing out some of its favorite flowers as part of the Petal it Forward program in partnership with the Society of American Florists.

Read More
media-day-at-altman-plants

October 17, 2016

Altman Plants Hosts Media Day To Highlight Its Water Sa…

This month, Altman celebrated more than 100 million gallons of water saved since its water recycling program began operation.

Read More
OSU ATI Greenhouse

September 21, 2016

Your Support Is Essential For Current And Future Studen…

September is back to school time, and that means renewed opportunity to support the young people who are electing to pursue careers in horticulture. I continue to hear from growers of all sizes, from all over the country, that there just are not enough qualified graduates of two- or four-year horticulture programs. We also need to be active in promoting careers in horticulture to those who are not aware of the opportunities available. There have been some great success stories in this area recently. At University of Florida (UF) last fall, Anna Ball and Dr. Marvin Miller of Ball Horticultural Co. joined UF’s Dr. David Clark in an introductory environmental horticulture couse that’s open to any major. After the class, the line of students waiting to talk with Ball, Miller, and Clark was out the door. It is so important, Ball says, for each of us, individually and collectively to […]

Read More
Dual Income No Kids (DINK) Young Couple

September 16, 2016

What You Need To Know About DINKs

DINKs (Dual Income, No Kids) are quickly becoming one of the fastest-growing demographics that marketers are targeting.

Read More
Cavicchio Greenhouses

September 6, 2016

Cavicchio Greenhouses Wins Inaugural Sustainability Awa…

The Sudbury, MA, growing operation sustains more than 250 acres of annuals, perennials, and nursery stock, with a number of practices to mitigate its impact on the environment.

Read More
Laura Drotleff

August 10, 2016

Customers Need Hand-Holding And TLC [Opinion]

If we want customers to use our plants, we need to provide basic information about the plants we produce.

Read More
Luxflora Flower Run

July 20, 2016

First-Ever Flower Run Was A Big Success, Luxflora Says

Kicking off Cultivate’16 on Sunday, July 10, Luxflora’s first annual 5K saw nearly 150 participants racing through the picturesque Scioto Audubon Park in Columbus under clear blue skies and perfect conditions. It was a great way to start the week, participants said. Congratulations to the winners of the first-ever Flower Run: First Place: Jacob Griffith Gardner Second Place: Mike Goyette Third Place: Jack Ford The top three winners — and all of the Flower Run participants — were showered with flower petals when they crossed the finish line, making for a colorful and fragrant finish to an invigorating experience. “Personally, I would consider it a grand success,” says Luxflora President Rebecca Lusk. “The overall mood was fantastic, from start to finish. There were many high fives and group hugs, numerous duo phone selfies and postings to social media, while participants enjoyed their bananas and bottled water donated by Experience Columbus. Most […]

Read More
PrairieSplendor_CompactRose Syngenta Flowers March 2016

May 16, 2016

New “Generations Of Flowers” Study Tracks How And Why C…

The Society of American Florists and the American Floral Endowment have released an update and analysis of this study, which first began in 2009.

Read More
Webinar Photo from Flickr

May 7, 2016

How You Can Connect With A Broader Audience Through Web…

Webinars are time-saving and effective marketing tools that can extend your reach to a greater audience.

Read More

April 27, 2016

Use Your Data To Make Smarter Marketing Decisions

Learn which marketing metrics are important to your business, measure successes, and learn where changes are needed.

Read More

April 26, 2016

“Bee-Friendly” Labels Matter To Plant Consumers, Accord…

Research at Michigan State University shows ornamental plant buyers understand and respond to bee-friendly production practices.

Read More