After 24 years of ownership, Jeff Griff, owner of Lowe’s Greenhouses, Florist and Gift Shop, said selling the business is “bittersweet.”
Mr. Griff and his wife Mary Lynn announced that they sold their family business, located on Chillicothe Road in Bainbridge, on Nov. 22 to Bainbridge residents Bob Scott and Sam Delpra, co-owners and founders of the former SWB Landscaping of Chester.
“It’s just like you can imagine. It’s a little bittersweet,” Mr. Griff, 57, said. “For folks that have never owned a business, it’s kind of like having a child. You can’t explain what it’s like to have the love for a child and you can’t explain what it’s like to have love for a business.”
He said it’s difficult to relinquish control on one hand, but on the other hand, he said he’s happy to see the business carry on into its fifth generation of ownership.
Lowe’s Greenhouse was founded in 1926 by Carlton Lowe, and the Griff family took ownership in the 1950s, according to company officials. The business has been in the Griff family for 65 years, and Mr. Griff said he has worked there for 44 years.
“Forty-four years is a long time to work in one place and 24 years is a long time to own a business,” Mr. Griff wrote in a letter on the Lowe’s Greenhouse website. “I’m proud of all we’ve been able to accomplish and thankful to the many Lowe’s Greenhouse employees who’ve helped make success possible through the years. I’m grateful for the patronage of loyal customers and the relationships we’ve formed with our many vendors.”
He said while it’s bittersweet to relinquish control, it’s overshadowed by seeing the business carry on.
Mr. Griff said the transaction started as a phone call from Mr. Scott and Mr. Delpra more than two years ago. “Basically, it was a phone call on their part to ask me out of left field, ‘I know you don’t know me, but would you be interested in selling your business?’” Mr. Griff recounted.
He said while he and Mrs. Griff were not ready to sell the business just yet at the time of the phone call, they knew it was something to face soon, so they agreed to meet with Mr. Scott and Mr. Delpra.
“You can’t create timing, timing happens,” he said, noting that he and Mrs. Griff didn’t have children working in the business or know any key employees to whom they could sell the greenhouse. “I knew at some point a transaction would have to take place.”
Mr. Griff said Mr. Scott and Mr. Delpra, both 30, are West Geauga High School alumni and have been friends since elementary school. They also have experience in the industry from their landscaping business. While he was nervous about their age, 27 at the time of the initial meeting, Mr. Griff acknowledged that he was also about their age when he took ownership of Lowe’s Greenhouse.
After months of strategizing and planning, Mr. Griff said, “It’s been a long process for sure,” in making the change.
Mr. Griff said the transaction will be official as of Dec. 15.
While Mr. and Mrs. Griff will no longer be the owners of the business, he stressed that they’re going to continue to be “very much integral parts of the business.”
He explained that the couple will stay in the business to assist the new owners of Lowe’s Greenhouse as mentors.
“The day after this transaction takes place, I’ll be sitting at my desk as if this never happened,” Mr. Griff said. “We all want everyone to know we’re not going anywhere. We’re still going to be here. We don’t anticipate anything changing other than additional features Bob and Sam will bring in.
“We don’t want people to think we’re going away,” he said, “because we’re not.”
The current and future owners of the greenhouse will hold a celebration on Dec. 6 and invite “customers, vendors and friends” to join them from 6-8 p.m. for a celebratory toast. Reservations for the celebration need to be made to firstname.lastname@example.org or 440-543-5123.