This installment of Celebrating Geauga Small Businesses comes from Jeff Griff at Lowe’s Greenhouse in Bainbridge. Be sure to check out their Gardening in containers program at the Bainbridge Branch Wed., April 11, 7 p.m. 

GCPL: When was Lowe’s founded?  

Jeff Griff: 1926

GCPL: What is the story behind your business? How did it begin? What challenges did you face in getting started & how did you overcome them? What challenges do you face in your day-to-day operations, and how do you overcome them? What is your favorite part of owning a business?

 JG: The business was started by Carlton Lowe after he returned from WW1. He is credited for introducing the Tuberous Begonia to the USA and the Begonia is the official flower of Bainbridge. 

My Grandparents bought the business from Lowe in 1953. Lowe was ill and the farm had fallen into a state of disrepair.  Route 306 was a dirt road at this time. My parents bought the business in 1974. 

In 1989, my parents (who were running the business) announced they were divorcing, putting the future of the business in jeopardy.  At 28 years old, and newly married, my wife Mary Lynn and I bought the business from my parents.  Again, the business had fallen into disrepair and required significant updates to continue.  This May, we will do more business in 2 weeks than the business did in an entire year when my parents took over in 1974.

GCPL: Why did you decide to start your business? What inspired it?

JG: For me, being a farmer, working here and owning this business wasn’t as much a choice as a destiny.  Early on I enjoyed the abilities and knowledge I had gained from working in the business and always had an entrepreneurial spirit.

GCPL: What kinds of training and education did starting your business require (College, trade shows, seminars/conferences, etc.)? Have you ever used the library to help with this?

Jeff talking with a patron after a class on organic gardening and starting a garden by seed at Bainbridge Library, 2013.

JG: By the time I graduated high school I already had begun my landscaping business, had employees and loans on equipment so I did not have time for college, but many opportunities are available for learning through community and industry organizations.  I have to confess I have spent more time in the library teaching classes than I have doing research. (ed.: That’s ok! We appreciate that!)

GCPL: What resources did/do you find most useful in helping you to start, grow, and maintain your business (Books, software, training materials, databases, etc.)?

Other than my brilliant wife (and CFO), networking with other industry professionals has, by far, been my greatest resource for gaining business knowledge.

GCPL: What advice do you have for people who want to start a business?

JG: Of course, that depends on the business, but generally I would stress the need for business acumen to be equal or greater to the knowledge of your given field of endeavor. 

GCPL: Is there a book, movie, or album you would like to recommend to our patrons?

JG: Well, my favorite movie is Forrest Gump but, to be honest, if you want to know me better, look up my blog posts that are archived on our web site.