70 Years: Hillermann Nursery & Florist

WASHINGTON, MISSOURI

The industry has seen some big anniversaries this year, marking decades of growth, change and adaptation. We wanted to take a moment to recognize some of the biggest milestones IGCs have hit in 2021. If your garden center is celebrating a big anniversary, we’d love to hear about it! Email Editor Kate Spirgen at kspirgen@gie.net with the good news.

Hillermann Nursery & FLORIST, a large family-owned nursery/garden center in Washington, Missouri, celebrated its 70th anniversary during the month of April. “We are so honored and excited to celebrate this longtime milestone! We are grateful to all our customers who have supported us over all the years. We could not have done this without our customers, and of course, founders Don and Bernie,” said Sandi Hillermann McDonald, CEO. In celebration, the company offered giveaways and prizes to their customers each week in April. Many wonderful prizes were given to customers with help from the company’s suppliers, and some prizes were directly from Hillermann.

Founded by Don Hillermann in the spring of 1951, Hillermann Nursery started out as a hobby. Don’s brother Bernie joined him in 1953 and a partnership was formed. One year later, having been laid off from their factory positions, the two became full-time nurserymen. The business was started at the old location on West 5th Street in Washington. From these beginnings, Hillermann Nursery & Florist has flourished. The company moved to its current location at 2601 East 5th Street in November of the year 2000.

Siblings Scott Hillermann, left, vice president, and Sandi Hillermann McDonald, president and CEO
PHOTOS COURTESY OF HILLERMANN NURSERY & FLORIST

Today Hillermann, a 2020 Top 100 Independent Garden Center, is a large, diversified company, employing more than 80 people and providing a wide variety of services. Departments and services include garden center, nursery, florist/gift shop, landscape and irrigation design, installation and maintenance, landscape lighting, grading and seeding, snow removal, spraying, and lawn and garden equipment sales, parts and service. You can shop for local wine, wine- and beer-making supplies, beekeeping supplies, bird and wildlife items, and beautiful décor and patio furniture along with a great selection of plants and lawn and garden items. There are always unique items and displays to discover.

Several greenhouses are in use at the current location where the company grows some of the plant products that are available in the nursery and greenhouse. Hillermann staff members also create beautiful container gardens and hanging baskets. The company strives to make all of its plant items the best quality possible.

Second-generation family members actively continue the business. It is through the inspiration of Don and Bernie Hillermann that they can continue on with many years of service.

Learn more about Hillermann at bit.ly/igcanniversaries.



75 years: Wedel’s Nursery, Florist and Garden Center

KALAMAZOO, MICHIGAN

Wedel’s Nursery, Florist and Garden Center had its beginning in 1946 when Harley Wedel opened a produce store in Kalamazoo. Stocking the shelves with what was grown on the family farm, “Wedel’s Fruit and Produce Store” got its start. In 1953 some evergreens, trees and shrubs were planted behind one of the farm sheds. Harley soon had the love of plants in his blood, and it wasn’t long before he put his entire effort into the nursery business. He and his boys, Dick, George and Roger grew most of the plants at the family farm.

By 1955 all produce was cleared out and Harley opened Kalamazoo’s first complete one-stop garden center and retail nursery sales lot — “Wedel’s Evergreen Gardens.” The store nearly tripled within three years and forced Wedel’s Nursery and Garden Center to move in 1969 to its second location, 5922 S. Westnedge in Portage. Three years later, Wedel’s moved its nursery stock growing operation from the Portage location to an 80-acre farm in Galesburg, where they now grow most of the nursery stock sold at their garden center.

Wedel’s opened a florist department led by Joyce Wedel in 1982, and in 1988, it underwent a major overhaul in which they modernized the offices, check-out area and several buildings.

Once again, Wedel’s outgrew its location, so in 2000 a new store was built on 25 acres. In 2001, Wedel’s Nursery, Florist and Garden Center opened Southwest Michigan’s Premier Horticultural Center. The new facility incorporated more spacious display areas, covered walks into and out of their nursery area, display gardens, bulk landscape materials, expanded annual and perennial display and a larger florist department.

The founder of Wedel’s, Harley D. Wedel, passed away on April 27, 1998, at the age of 91. Dick ran the nursery growing operation until his passing in 2008, when his son Larry took over. After being CEO and the store’s general manager for decades, George passed away in 2020, as did his wife, Joyce, and daughter Bonnie, who ran the floral department together for over 30 years.

Roger, with the help of George’s son, Andy, who is now the general manager, George’s daughter, Terrie, Dick’s son, Larry, and Roger’s daughters, Kay and Karen, are now running the business. The green thumb is truly hereditary, since some of the fourth generation, Andrea, Zach and Caleb, are now joining the business.

Any time you visit their store, you see how the love of plants has grown in this family.

The Wedel family, photographed in 1979
PHOTO COURTESY OF WEDEL'S NURSERY, FLORIST & GARDEN CENTER
The Wedel family at the garden center today.
PHOTO COURTESY OF WEDEL'S NURSERY, FLORIST & GARDEN CENTER
Wedel’s Nursery, Florist and Garden Center has come a long way since opening its produce stand in 1946, followed by the full-service garden center, photographed in 1955.
PHOTO COURTESY OF WEDEL'S NURSERY, FLORIST & GARDEN CENTER
PHOTO COURTESY OF WEDEL'S NURSERY, FLORIST & GARDEN CENTER
Center: Harley Wedel, founder of Wedel’s
PHOTO COURTESY OF WEDEL'S NURSERY, FLORIST & GARDEN CENTER