CHRISTIANSBURG – David and Liane Peirson, who have owned and operated David’s Greenhouses for 53 years, have withdrawn and transferred ownership of the company to Brian and Casey Wente.
David, born and raised in Christiansburg, has been in the greenhouse business since he was 15; In 1968 he obtained his first business license to work in the greenhouses behind what is now the First Central National Bank of Christiansburg.
David then met his wife, Liane, while they were both studying horticulture at Ohio State University (David also added a second major in accounting and business administration). The couple graduated in 1975.
In 1978 David bought new land and he and Liane married. The Peirsons renewed their business license in 1979 to house their new address and home of David’s Greenhouses for the next five decades: 12184 Christiansburg-Jackson Road.
In the early years David’s Greenhouses mainly sold bedding plants, vegetables and seeds. With the help of 14 employees, David also looked after two hectares of baby breath and other cut flowers. After moving, David and Liane shifted their focus to nurturing plants in greenhouses instead of burdening the field work.
Despite David’s huge product offering, he says his only focus is on service by offering his knowledge and advice to his customers.
“We both like most people most of the time,” said David.
Over the years, the business has largely stayed the same with an increase in cut flowers.
Both Peirsons look back fondly on their decades in the business and remember the characters of Christiansburg. David mentions a woman who asked for a pound of beet seeds for her small garden, even though the store only had 2 pounds of beet seeds in stock for all of Champaign County.
“I’m sure they had seeds for several years,” said David.
Since expansion was never the goal, the Peirsons were content with their small business.
Liane recalls wisdom the couple gathered from an OSU professor who contributed to their success.
“His favorite saying was ‘funnel sight, no tunnel sight’ … look at the big picture,” she said.
They have a son, Jonathan, who showed little interest in the business so they chose not to invest in technological advances or grow beyond a certain number of seasonal employees. David spoke of his desire to stay involved in all facets of the company, not just act as the owner.
“I never really wanted to grow up because I was a manager and I was practical,” said David. “When you have a big payroll, it takes the fun out of having to worry about cash flow.”
So David’s greenhouses worked primarily through the lifelong partnership of David and Liane.
âWe worked as a team,â said David. “We were young and just did the work.”
The Peirsons cited their biggest difficulty as business owners keeping up with the fuel bills, though the COVID-19 pandemic also brought challenges such as labor shortages, supply chain disruptions and the inability to sell inventory. For example, churches are big customers for lilies at Easter, and the greenhouse lost a significant portion of its business during the shutdown.
However, the congregation has supported each other with great support, for which the Peirsons and Wentes are grateful.
âPeople planted more gardens and more flowers, and we got through well,â said David.
Despite the many fights that came with the work, the Peirsons agree that the rewards were well worth it. Liane claimed her favorite part of her job was “watching things grow,” and David agreed, saying, “It is satisfying to see things go well. Not everything will grow, but most of the time, if you watch it and take care of it, it will make a living – or back pain. “
The Peirsons have only taken three vacations in their 53 years of business so they are looking forward to retirement and ready to relax.
âWe think we deserve to see something outside of work,â said David.
The couple plan to move to Westchester, Ohio to be closer to their son, a self-employed financial advisor. The Peirsons also hope to travel and have New England, Florida, South Carolina and Georgia in their sights.
David and Liane advise young entrepreneurs on the importance of self-motivation and joy.
“Are you planning to work,” Liane said. âNobody will do it for you. In this business you are on duty 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. “
Both David and Liane are confident that the wentes will continue what they started.
“He’s very capable,” David said of Brian. âHe and his wife, some days they will be in separate greenhouses and other days they will work side by side, just like us. It’s just part of marriage. “
New chapter: the Wente family
Brian and Casey Wente, originally from Troy, Ohio, married in 2016 and had families with four children ages 11, 12, 13 and 17. After 20 years in the culinary industry, Brian was looking for a change. He had no formal horticultural training but was passionate about gardening and houseplants, so he started working in a flower shop.
Through this position, Brian connected with David and began his apprenticeship in the spring of 2019.
Although Brian had no farming experience himself, his father and grandfather worked in agriculture. When the Wentes considered taking over David’s business, both Brian’s father and David asked themselves the same question: “Are you sure you want to work that hard?”
For the past two years, David has taught Brian how to grow key products like poinsettias and mothers, how to make custom pots, how to order inventory, and more. However, Brian realizes that building relationships with David’s lifelong customers was his greatest challenge as the community is used to the exceptional service, quality and consistency of the Peirsons.
“The relationships I have with these people are direct evidence of the relationships David and Liane have with them,” said Brian.
Brian envisions his business being based on service, much like the Peirsons did.
âIt’s about the people. People first, âsaid Wente. “You don’t fix what isn’t broken.”
The Wentes plan to model David’s business plan as best they can while incorporating a larger online presence for flower ordering. Additionally, the Wentes hope to keep the accounts David opened with churches, schools, fundraisers, and private organizations.
David’s greenhouses, for example, have been providing poinsettias to students for many years to sell as a fundraiser for their annual field trip to Washington, DC.
The Wentes will rename the business to Green and Growing Gardens. Although the transition will not be marked with a hard opening, the wentes are already operating under the new name.
Brian claims the most valuable facet of business he learned from David is patience.
âHe was a very generous teacher with his knowledge, and I hope that I can do that for the interlocutors,â said Wente. “Compassion and service are key notes that need to be conveyed for this to happen.”
Brian and Casey Wente (standing) are pictured with David and Liane Peirson, who have owned and operated David’s greenhouses for 53 years.
David Peirson’s career in Christiansburg spanned 53 years, as these two photos of him in the greenhouse show.
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