When an existing local business expands significantly, that investment is a very tangible vote of confidence in the economic future a community.
Jon and Heather Baedke, owners of Smitty's Lawn & Landscape, 1770 Lainson Ave. (U.S. Highway 169 north of Fort Dodge), have just launched a major enhancement of their company. On Dec. 3, they became the owners of one of the city's most successful businesses - Eddie's Greenhouse, 7 S. 23rd St.
The combined company will be known as Smitty's and will have two key divisions: Smitty's Lawn & Landscape and Smitty's Greenhouse.
-Messenger photo by Hans Madsen
RICK?LAMOUREAUX, left, manager of Smitty’s Greenhouse, confers with owner Jon Baedke near the businesses’ display of poinsettias. Formerly Eddie’s Greenhouse, the facility will operate in conjunction with Smitty’s Lawn & Landscape.
Jon Baedke said the opportunity to acquire the greenhouse from Ed Casady, its owner for more than three decades, came about because of Casady's desire to retire.
Baedke said combining the greenhouse with Smitty's previous services was a logical next step for the company.
"It's always been a dream of mine to have our own retail outlet," Baedke said. "I think it's a perfect fit with our lawn care and landscape company to pull everything together. Eddie's was a very reputable business. ... It makes us whole."
He said Smitty's Greenhouse will continue the approach that has made Eddie's Greenhouse a success, but some enhancements are planned.
"The existing part of it is going to remain the same," Baedke said. "We may add a few additional product lines. The actual growing part is going to remain exactly the same. We do plan on adding a nursery outdoors for trees and shrubs and landscape displays. That doe not exist. That would be new. We're going to bring in some hard-to-find stuff."
He said the greenhouse will also be adding periodic gardening classes and seminars to its offerings.
Also in the planning stages is extensive landscaping of the property to showcase the company's capabilities in that area.
"We have a landscape designer," Baedke said. "She works with the existing company. She will work (at the greenhouse) one day a week."
Rick Lamoureux, who managed the local Earl May outlet for nine years, has joined the Smitty's team as manager of Smitty's Greenhouse. Baedke said he is also delighted to announce that Kim Peterson, a key part of the staff at Eddie's is now a Smitty's employee.
"We're relying on Kim Peterson, she's been here 23 years and is going to stick with us," he said.
Baedke also said that while Ed Casady has retired, he will be available to advise the owners.
"He is still with us on a consulting basis showing us the ins and outs," he said.
Baedke and Lamoureux both stressed that they are committed to preserving the special qualities that have made Eddie's Greenhouse exceptionally popular with not only local patrons, but also clients from many other parts of the state.
"We're a unique place with seed to finish products," Baedke said. "They've had an excellent reputation and draw from all over. The greenhouse has great quality products, customer service, knowledge of the products. ... Our goal is to keep growing the same quality products and keep the same quality customer service or better."
Lamoureux said he is enthused about the integration of Smitty's previous offerings with what the greenhouse can provide.
"It's definitely the only start-to-finish place that I know of within 30 miles," he said. "It's the only place I can think of where you combine the three major entities: greenhouse, lawn care and landscaping and everything that goes with it as far as products. ... We want to continue the tradition of a high-quality greenhouse. I'm excited about bringing in trees and shrubs."
Baedke said the expanded Smitty's will have work force of approximately 30 employees during the busiest part of the year.
He said the booming business environment in Webster County was a major reason he and his wife concluded it made sense to expand their company.
"With the Fort Dodge community growing, we feel there are a lot of new people coming to town," he said. "Fort Dodge is growing and we're very excited about that. ... When somebody from a bigger city moves to a smaller community like this, they expect to have a good landscaping service and a good garden center where they can buy quality products."
Smitty's Greenhouse includes a 2,000-square-foot retail store and 12 greenhouses that cover about 18,000 square feet.
It is open Monday through Saturday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and on Sundays from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.