Jayme Visnesky grew up watching her entrepreneur mother take care of customers at Penn Hills Lawn & Garden in Penn Hills, Penn., since 1984 when the company was founded.
So it comes as little surprise that she was passionate about taking over the garden center when her mother retired in 2002 to focus on other professional endeavors.
“You can pick [the business] up, or it can go by the wayside,” Visnesky says. “As a family as a whole, we wanted to keep it running, and I wanted to keep it running.”
Becoming the boss at 23, with new management responsibilities, was a smooth transition for Visnesky, she says, but it was certainly a lot of work.
“It really did come naturally because I was involved in the business since I was little,” she says. “I was there every weekend, every day after school; I basically lived here. I slept underneath my mom’s desk.”
She also says that managing the garden center has taught her the importance of both her employees’ and her consumers’ needs.
“To listen and understand changes that need to be made … is huge, and it’s something that I’ve gotten pretty used to doing,” she says.
Penn Hills Lawn & Garden has always valued its workers and customers like family, and Visnesky seeks to make their experiences special.
“Making them feel welcome is what I like to do,” she says. “But I also like to try and keep the prices down as much as I can … and accommodate [customer requests].”
Visnesky also realizes that, like all businesses, horticulture evolves with new technology and methods, which inspired her to start offering seminars and workshops, many of which focus on healthy and natural growing.
A lot of our older gardeners are hardcore chemical users, and a lot of our new-age gardeners coming up are very organic.”
“We do that so the younger generation can become more experienced, and the older generation could learn new things,” she says. “A lot of our older gardeners are hardcore chemical users, and a lot of our new-age gardeners coming up are very organic.”
Being engaged and staying up-to-date with the industry has made Visnesky successful, and she urges novice horticulturists to do the same.
“There are so many things to learn, as far as the plants and products out there. Keep your ears open for new things that are happening … You’ve got to find your niche somewhere and capitalize on that.”