2012-04-18 / Business
Local family business still going strong in 70th year
The family-owned business has two locations, Route 34 in Colts Neck and Route 9 in Freehold Township, which offer a combined supply of about 200,000 items, ranging from flowers and vegetable plants to statues and koi fish, said Ed Brock Jr., manager of the Colts Neck shop.
Preparation for the busy spring season requires a deep level of dedication among the several Brock family members who keep the business running and from their 120 employees, Brock added.
“Because we are open all year, we are constantly working ahead of the next season,” he said.
The family owns more than 800 acres of farmland throughout New Jersey, Brock said. He said at least one truckload of goods arrives at the stores each night from the farms. The Brocks also supply plants to garden centers across the Northeast, from New England to Virginia, and to local landscapers.
Unforeseen warm weather earlier in the year caused problems for many farmers, including the Brocks, he said, adding that a few tricks of the trade and an alert staff helped to avoid a loss of crops.
Brock said the warmer weather in March gave a boost to business ahead of schedule.
Family members visit about 30 additional greenhouses and 30 farms every week to buy the highest quality plants they can, Brock said.
“We probably deal with close to 100 other nurseries,” he said. “It allows us to keep a larger selection.”
The demand for new varieties of plants requires the Brocks to search far and wide for the next popular item, Brock said. He said the business currently has more than 40 types of tomato plants alone for sale.
Customers still crave the classics, though, Brock said, checking off a list of fast-selling flowers, including pansies, petunias and Martha Washington geraniums.
Before the spring, he said, the company orders other products from trade shows, like fertilizer, giftware and pond supplies, which are delivered during the winter.
“In the middle of setting up for this season, we are ripping down the Christmas display in the Freehold location,” Brock said of the overlapping responsibilities of the different seasons.
And when the peak season ends in mid- June, the cycle will continue as employees toil to not only sell the summer harvest, but once again prepare for the upcoming holiday season, Brock said. The company, which has been in business for about 70 years, has come a long way from its humble beginnings, Brock said. He described a scene in which his father sold handpicked blueberries on the side of Route 34, before opening the two stores in the 1950s.
“The same work ethic that my mother and father had was instilled in me and my sister,” Brock said, “and we keep growing with the business.”
In the end, the hustle and bustle of keeping a stocked showroom is worth the effort if customers walk away happy, Brock said.
Brock said the shop now produces a 56- page magazine with home and gardening tips to help customers make the most of their purchases.