Carolina Nurseries, another one bites the dust

carolinaauction.jpgCarolina Nurseries at 686 acres, was the largest wholesale nursery in all of South Carolina. According to Today’s Garden Center “the conglomerate, ZZ Acquisitions LLC – an affiliate of The InterTech Group – foreclosed upon the 686-acre nursery during a public auction after no one stepped forward to outbid the debt it was owned by the owners of Carolina Nurseries, according to the story the nursery is now in foreclosure.” The article continues, “ZZ Acquisitions loaned Carolina Nurseries $12 million in March of 2009 to keep it afloat, but the nursery operation was unable to repay the loan or find other financial backers. The local county, Berkeley County, actually considered buying the property for nearly $17 million, but council members voted against the idea”

What to say? We are going through enormous changes in the nursery industry. It makes me glad we are a small, almost tiny nursery. We do most of our business with small, or medium sized wholesale operations. That will increase as we see more and more of the largest wholesale operations going under, or selling to the box stores. Hopefully small nurseries will be able to grow their own or find wholesale nurseries that can fill their needs.

Boy, if their was ever a time to embrace change it’s now. That’s hard for me to do. I like to know what’s coming down the pike, and anymore you just don’t know. This extends beyond the nursery business and into much of our daily lives. Who of us has not been buffeted by these strange winds that are blowing. Take heart in the knowledge that even the biggest players, with all the resources available to them are having a very rough go of it. We small biz take so much to heart personally, that when bad stuff happens we go over board blaming ourselves. Take pleasure in the little things that we often miss when so much is happening around us. The world is so desperate for a positive, upbeat message, why not be the one to give it. It may just be what gives your small business the edge it needs to succeed.

About Trey Pitsenberger

Trey is a nurseryman, author, and speaker.

06. December 2010 by Trey Pitsenberger
Categories: , , | 5 comments

Comments (5)

  1. Well, Trey, you know we bought from Carolina, we were expecting this. I didn’t think they would be able to raise enough capital this fall to keep the facility. The larger picture is that over 350 employees have lost their jobs.

    It is sad that we have lost another east coast nursery. They started the Novalis Network, maybe they should not have spent that ad/promo money and spent it on actually selling plants. So, when we go to the trade show in January, we are going to find new plant suppliers.

    We stick with our local smaller nurseries. I get better and personal service.

  2. Sounds like it’s time for the little guys again. The economic issues of late has really crunched most of them out of business and now the big are starting to fall too. Looks like things have opened up for the small growers once again.

    I visited a couple of Carolina’s facilities up the east coast and they were beautiful operations. The problem was that all the managers drove expensive cars if you know what I mean. And I agree you about Novalis, Madison Avenue advertising is flashy and great but it is expensive and when it gets down to it a pansy is a pansy. If Joe Blow can grow one in his little nursery for half a buck why would anyone pay 3x that wholesale?

    I am constantly reminded that the plant business is a network of PEOPLE not companies.

  3. I think your assessment of the business situation is, for most of us, dead on. My company has struggled mightily in the last three years and even though I believe 2011 will bring some improvement, I think it’ll be gradual. Had we not had a nucleus of “mom & pop” garden center customers to sustain us we’d probably be gone now too.

    One thing is certain; those of us who survive will be a lot smarter (and probably more cautious) than we were before. And speaking from a personal perspective, I’ve just about worn out a perfectly good set of kneecaps praying we make it through.

  4. Carolina Nurseries is being auctioned off next month. Is this a viable business if run better than the last group? What caused it to go under, poor management, the economy or the combination of both?

    • Hopelandpa,
      I am not sure if the model is a viable one anymore. Carolina Nurseries is outside my area, northern California and other than reporting the story I don’t know much else. The comment section of this post likely holds the most answers.