Being one of the oldest plant and garden retailers in your state is a big responsibility. For Glover Nursery, which can trace its heritage back through the centuries and claims family ties to other nurseries throughout Utah, that responsibility is met head-on with a commitment to service and convenience.
The story of Glover Nursery starts with Albert Glover, who started Jordan Nursery in Midvale, Utah in 1895, which still operates to this day as a lawn and garden equipment dealer. One of Albert’s grandsons eventually took over the business, while his other grandsons went off to start their businesses. Eventually, Glover Nursery was launched by Parley R. Glover, grandfather of current owner Rod Glover.
Glover took an early interest in plant propagation, having learned grafting and tree farming first-hand from the patriarch of his family business.
“My grandfather, Parley R., got a license for his nursery. Then, as my dad and uncle were born, they worked it with him, but they didn’t do just nursery practices,” Glover says.
They had cattle, they grew sugar beets. My grandfather learned to graft from his father, and they’d go up and graft trees on [the farm].
“My grandfather showed me how to graft one day in the nursery, and I used it as a science project in seventh grade, and everybody fell asleep,” he adds with a laugh.
Glover Nursery has a long and rich history, but the current generation of ownership isn’t looking backward. Glover is focused on expansions for facilities, with the goal of enhancing the customer experience and empowering successful departments and categories.
We started doing re-wholesaling really just to buy more volume to get discounts from growers. And so now [bulk sales were] actually up to about 33 percent last year. It’s great, but we don’t want it to get up to where we’re caring about the contractor more than the retail customer.” – ROD GLOVER, PRESIDENT, GLOVER NURSERY
Over the years, Glover Nursery has built a sizeable client base of contractors who regularly stop in for bulk plants and landscape material. Though he welcomes the contractor business, Glover says he likes to keep a balance between the bulk buyers and retail customers.
“We started doing re-wholesaling really just to buy more volume to get discounts from growers. And so now [bulk sales were] actually up to about 33 percent last year. It’s great, but we don’t want it to get up to where we’re caring about the contractor more than the retail customer. So we’ll probably raise our prices a little bit on the wholesale end just to keep that in check, and, of course, it also raises them on the retail end.”
The facilities on Glover Nursery’s 10-acre property had shown room for improvement in terms of organizing contractor sales and the company’s bulk department, which is why, over the past year, Glover has constructed and moved these operations into a new building, which will hopefully prove to be a better fit.
“We’ve been here about 30 years, and we’ve just kind of merged into different things and so, our offices are very small and compact,” Glover says. “With this [new] building, we’re hoping to move more of our contractor sales through quicker. [Contractors are] usually in a hurry to get in and get out, so it makes it a more efficient. Next year, when we have [the building] up and running and all the bugs worked out, we can really accommodate more traffic because we did get a bottleneck over here in our existing building quite often in the spring.”
In addition to fine-tuning his facilities to streamline bulk sales, Glover is also investing in his pond department — the only category that was down in sales this year. The hope is to refresh the department in time for pond gardening’s peak season next spring.
“We have a nice [pond] display now where before, it was spread out in [an old structure],” he says. “And so, although we missed the beginning of the pond season [in 2018], we’re hoping next year that it’ll get back up.”
Going the extra mile for the customer
Although Glover Nursery doesn’t offer full-scale landscaping services, the company does offer to install any product it sells, including nursery stock, water features and ponds.
“We do install everything we sell,” Glover says. “We put these water features in for people, and some of them require cranes to load them into people’s yards — they’re just that big. So, [installation] has a really good future for us, I think, as we get more well-known for it.”
Glover says that fountains and stone-based water features look to be outstripping ponds in popularity. As such, he plans to step up efforts to offer a wide variety of pondless water features next spring — all using stone drilled in-house.
“People are getting away from these burdensome ponds, and we’re selling a lot of rock features that are pondless,” he says. “Which we like, [because] that’s easier to do. We do drill our own rocks, too, by the way. That’s another area that we’re really developing for next spring. We’re going to drill rocks all winter long for a project that will have more sizes and selection and price points.”
Hosting so many departments and so much product on 10 acres can make for an intimidating shopping experience for the customer.
Another way that Glover Nursery keeps convenience in mind is the maps of the nursery that are distributed to patrons so that they can more easily find what they need among the multitude of varieties on-site.
“We have a map, and they can find [what they want] within minutes,” Glover says. “I visit other nurseries all the time, and they have their displays and their plants scattered all over the place. If somebody wants a certain hydrangea, they have to go find it in a display or get someone [to find it], where our [product] is laid out in blocks, just really like a growing nursery that people can go to. And I think that’s a real plus for us.”
Building on 2018
An unexpectedly busy first few months of the year proved to be a mixed blessing for Glover Nursery. High sales and activity in January and February delayed construction on the new bulk sales office building, pushing that project back into May. Additionally, some poor weather in March did little to deter an otherwise strong spring.
“Our March was slower because we did get some bad weather and our April was pretty good. I think we’re up 10 percent [over 2017] those three months; April, May and June, which put us onto a real good run,” Glover says.
Glover adds that his company’s monthly sales goals also had a part to play in this season’s success. The goals are set each year as a step above that month’s sales from the previous year. If a monthly goal is reached, one percent of the gross sales over that goal amount is paid out to all staff — from managers down to the seasonal help.
“If we hit our goals in April, May and June when [sales are] so huge, it really keeps people focusing on hitting these sales goals,” Glover says. “The people who have worked here for several years know about it, but it’s the new employees that wonder why we’re so intense on selling. And it’s not that we oversell, but we are concentrated on waiting on customers and greeting them and that type of thing. And the ones that get that first bonus check, they go, ‘oh wow.’”
Keeping employees focused on the customer, as well as re-thinking the facility to better serve that mission, are a part of the groundwork bringing Utah’s “First Family Nursery” into the future.