George Grobe had been a successful door to door nursery stock salesman since the early 1940's. In 1962, he and his eldest son Peter started a landscape maintenance business in Kitchener. They were joined by George's other son Paul in 1964. Business continued to grow, so anticipating residential growth to the east of the city of Kitchener, in 1966 they opened a garden centre outside the small village of Breslau. As time passed, Peter took over responsibility of the garden centre operations and landscape construction divisions and Paul directed the maintenance division and assumed the bookkeeping duties. As the work increased, the spouses of the three men (Jenny (George's - taking the picture), Leona (Peter's - on far right beside Peter) and Maryanne (Paul's - in center) took on various roles in the company to assist in its growth.
New Methods of Growing Adapted
The company continued to grow and evolve. In the early 70's Peter observed how the use of containerization could help extend the selling and planting season and implemented the containerizing of bare root plant material in the spring. Sales continued to grow.
The Beginnings of Christmas Tree Country
After a particularly unprofitable winter plowing snow, in 1972 Peter and Paul took another chance and began to sell fresh cut Christmas trees at Christmas at the garden centre. This has evolved over the last 45 years into Grobe's Christmas Tree Country. Several generations of families now come from all over the area to purchase their individually graded fresh cut trees in an indoor showroom, and to sip a hot chocolate and munch a Timbit while they shop for poinsettias, tree trim, and Christmas themed products from all over the world.
Continued Expansion 1989 to the Present
In 1989-1990 and into the 90's the range of plant material to be offered was broadened substantially, with the goal of becoming the gardener's source for the latest, most diverse, and best quality of plant material in this area. A substantially larger and modern annual flower greenhouse was built to accommodate the ever increasing demand for hanging baskets and annual bedding plants. The number of plant varieties today now lists in the thousands.
In the mid-90's improved drip irrigation technology was incorporated to reduce Grobe's overall water use and to improve the ability to irrigate with customers present in the nursery. A move to the use of re-usable plastic containers for tree and shrub production was also began to try and cut down on one time container use.
Ever mindful of the influence on technology, Peter and Paul could see that a further continuation of the business would require an investment in computerized point of sale, so in 2000 steps were taken to implement such a system, with the net result being more accuracy, speed and services to our customers. This was further enhanced with the extension of high speed Interac terminals to our country location, and the development of the Grobe website in 2003.
In late 2001 Grobe's started their Preferred Gardener Club, a loyalty club that offered their members timely email advice, sneak peaks of new products, and a discount on every purchase they made. In 2008 a trial to extend member benefits to three additional reputable local businesses was added to the program, and it continues to grow. For years Grobe's has re-used plastic containers returned to the garden centre. This has been enhanced with a program that now diverts all their plastic waste to recycling.
In 2007 Paul Grobe decided to retire to enjoy his garden at his cottage - which he did until his passing in February of 2017. In 2011 long time Buyer and Store Supervisor Gina Grobe (Peter's daughter) left the company to pursue other opportunities. Peter and Peter's son Perry continue to manage their growing business, with Perry's wife Roni and daughters Lyndle and Raquel now also working part time at the business.
Dedicated and Professional Staff - Our Strength
In the last 40 years, several key individuals have joined the permanent staff, Greg Schierholtz as Senior Foreman and Yard Supervisor; Kathy Pinnell as Perennial Co-ordinator, Buyer and Personal Assistant to Peter Grobe; Linda Schlueter as Green Goods Supervisor, Julia Robertson as Green Goods Assistant, Michelle Laing as Designer and Operations Supervisor, Paula Henke as Buyer and Senior Store Staff Supervisor, Patricia White as Senior Key Staff and Mary Schilter as Office Manager. Their contribution to the ongoing success of Grobe Nursery cannot be understated, for their dedication and work ethic continue to positively influence the growth of the company.
For the present and beyond, Peter, Perry and their dedicated families and staff hope to continue to grow and prosper, and to help their customers succeed at all their gardening endeavours.