DeGroot Opens in 1957! The rest is History!
Peter DeGroot was a 19-year-old tulip salesman when he first came to the United States from the Netherlands. For five years, he covered his territory, assessing both the country and the business. After deciding to make the United States his home, he still traveled for another bulb company for seven years. Peter was always studying the market and looking for a place of his own.
Welcome to DeGroot!
Ultimately, Peter and his wife, Louise, settled in Coloma, Michigan, because the climate created by Lake Michigan was just right for growing flower bulbs and small fruit plants. They began with one and a half acres of land, and their first year in business (1957) grossed $39,000. First operating out of a chicken coop, a cement block building and then an old barn, the DeGroots built the first part of a metal warehouse/office complex in 1970. By 1976, the building was 100,000 square feet.
In 1985, Peter enticed Terry Richardson to join him as sales manager and move his young family from South Dakota to Coloma. Working closely with Peter, Terry learned all aspects of the business, and soon was appointed general manager. In the early 90s, Peter decided to retire. In 1992, he sold majority ownership in the business to Terry and a minority ownership to Shirley Leith, Peter’s daughter. She had been involved in the business since the 70s. After working another 20 years, Shirley retired in 2012, and Terry acquired complete ownership.
With business succession in mind, Terry asked his two sons, Tyler and Wade, to join him and become partners in the business in July of 2012. After leasing additional warehouse space for a couple of spring seasons, we added 96,000 square feet of metal building warehouse to our facilities during the summer of 2014. We presently have just under 200,000 square feet of warehouse/office/cold storage space, 350 acres of land and a little more than an acre of greenhouses.
Growth in an ever changing market!
DeGroot began as a bulb grower, and quickly became known as the largest dahlia grower in the United States. We also grew cannas and gladiolus to round out the bulb category. In the early 80s, when perennials became fashionable, DeGroot shifted focus and began growing hemerocallis, hostas, peonies and other miscellaneous perennials. In the early 90s, demand grew for small fruit plants, so we used our growing expertise to expand into edibles. Now, almost three decades later, we are known as a one-stop source for the best selection of small fruit plants, along with perennials, flowerbulbs, vegetables, and shrubs.
Entrance, plus our new addition!
Our business has evolved and changed dramatically in the last 30 years, but our commitment has remained constant: To provide the finest-quality products and services to our clients and to do so more efficiently and economically than our competitors. This goal is extremely important to us, and our valued team members work very hard to exceed our clients’ expectations. In today’s digital world, business loyalty isn’t what it used to be. We are blessed and thankful for all of our loyal clients in this nursery business, especially those who have supported us for the past 30 years.
Thomas Jefferson is well known for his many wise sayings, but one in particular sums up my feelings about the nursery business. He said, “No occupation is so delightful to me as the culture of the earth, and no culture comparable to that of the garden.” By supplying millions of plants and bulbs for more than 60 years, we hope we have helped make our country a more beautiful place to enjoy life.
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