The business is now run by Barb and Roger (his kids). "Doc" still drops in on them to help out. Doc always has time to tell a story now that the burden of running the place is no longer on his shoulders.
Hastay's has two primary businesses. The greenhouse side of the business is extremely "lumpy". Its revenue peaks on Memorial Day weekend while the labor peaks from April-to-June. Hastay's has approximately 25,000 square feet under glass. That is a bit more than half an acre.
The Flower Shop is steady. People keep marrying, getting born and dying. Mother's Day and Graduation fall on the same weekend this year, so they are extremely busy this week. Other peaks are at Valentine's day and Christmas. You can order flowers in-person, over the phone (517)-663-6161 or by internet.
Lumpy business and fixed costs
Lumpy business brings a unique set of business challenges. It is easy to over-invest in facilities. "Doc" has a genius for making do. It may have been something he picked up when he worked in New Mexico.
Examples of growing benches
Plants that are hardy enough to be outside (cabbage, pansies and such) are on benches made of old boiler pipe held up with cinder blocks. The tarp beneath the benches keep the grass down and keep it airy and light beneath the benches.
Most of the benches were made this way.....about 17,000 square feet worth.
Lumpy businesses have advantages
One of the advantages of a lumpy business is that there are periods when the owner can invest sweat (and brain) equity into the business.
Retail sales started in 1960 and they needed more carts. During the slow time, Doc found a couple of businesses that were liquidating. They had these very narrow shopping carts. They are 20" wide. He picked them up for a song.
How many plants?
That is a tough number to estimate.
Most of the plants are densely packed into "flats". Hastay's would be able to produce 600,000 seedlings if all of their space was dedicated to flats.
|These potted tomato plants are over 4' tall.|
They want plants that are ready to plug-and-play.
Three pieces of advice to new business owners
Roger's three pieces of advice:
- Change your mindset away from the time-clock. You will not have the luxury of knocking-off work at 4:30 when business is booming.
- Always tell the truth. We cannot grow a Robert Kincaid, English cottage garden in mid-Michigan. Our climate cannot support it. It is better that a customer knows that before they drop $1700 in landscaping.
- Be resourceful. You will be surprised at the number of ways you can NOT spend money after you put your mind to it (that is where the discussion of plant benches came from).
Barb's four pieces of advice:
- You better love what you are doing.
- Be prepared to work long hours.
- Be prepared to not have much money.
- Focus on making the customer happy
I asked Roger if there were any plants that he thought were "cool" but did not get much exposure.
Roger said that Cuphea was pretty cool. Most modern flowers have been selected for "flatness". They provide a stunning display when viewed from one direction.
Cuphea is not big or gaudy. Cuphea is three-dimensional, almost spidery. It is a flower that benefits from close study.
I asked Barb what her favorite kind of work was.
She said "I like doing funeral arrangements."
I asked her "Why?"
She said "Because it is my chance to give them a final tribute. I knew most of these people and I am grateful for the chance to honor them one last time."
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