Greenhouse Canada

Features Business Retail
Showing the Way to Grow


October 1, 2009
By Amanda Ryder


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Whether you’re looking for hardy plants that pack a vibrant punch, an outdoor furniture set to spend the summer lounging on or fresh produce and chickens for a great local meal, Lacoste Garden Centre in Winnipeg, Man., is a one-stop operation to suit your needs.

Whether you’re looking for hardy plants that pack a vibrant punch, an outdoor furniture set to spend the summer lounging on or fresh produce and chickens for a great local meal, Lacoste Garden Centre in Winnipeg, Man., is a one-stop operation to suit your needs.

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Lacoste Garden Centre of Winnipeg has expanded rapidly over the past five years to cover six acres of property and offers 125,000 sq. ft. of retail space. 

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The garden centre has been in operation in the province’s capital for 67 years and was recently purchased in 2004 by three partners: Randy Hiebert and his two sons David and Jordan Hiebert. Both David and Jordan are active in the business and serve as the managing partners. Since taking over the reins five years ago, the brothers have placed a big emphasis on growing the business.

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“David and I really had a vision to make it a home and garden centre and to serve the backyard living needs that people have and the whole trend,” says Jordan. The two also wanted to establish the garden centre as a place for families and shoppers to gather and enjoy. “We wanted to try and make us a destination, not just a stop and go type of thing. We are trying to put on a show for people,” adds David.

This expansion has seen the addition of a brand new retail store, six greenhouses and a paved parking lot. The retail area measures around 125,000 square feet and the garden centre as a whole sits on six acres of property. The new facilities have helped to house Lacoste Garden Centre’s wide assortment of products, which includes trees and shrubs, concrete (paver stones, raised garden beds, retaining walls and structures), bulk goods like soils and mulches, the home décor section, chemical lines, spring and fall bulbs, grass seeds, water gardening and a huge variety of annuals and perennials grown at the garden centre. Jordan says the garden centre’s biggest area of growth has been the home décor section, which extends to outdoor living items like patios, backyard furniture, fire pits, chimineas and fireplaces. “Essentially, we supply anything the homeowner would need to landscape their yard,” says Jordan. “Everything to do with outdoor living, and of course that translates to indoors as well.”

For the last two years, the garden centre also worked on offering a strong produce section. “Before we just carried fruits and vegetables from local market gardeners, but now we carry all sorts of different spices, organics, high end olive oils, jellies, jams and honey,” says David. “Anything we can get local we do,” adds Jordan. Chickens can also be purchased at the garden centre and the poultry sales have actually tripled for the business. “Last year was the first year we went after it and it did really well,” says David.

Lacoste Garden Centre employs seven full-time staff members and approximately 35 part-timers in the busy season. Over the years, the Hieberts have found that attracting staff has become less of a challenge, and they attribute this to their friendly work environment. “We put a strong emphasis on our ability to take care of our staff. No one wants to go to a workplace where they are depressed or a place where they just don’t want to work. We try to have a positive work environment – not necessarily so that we’re friends with them but so we are friendly,” says David. As a result, the business has a very low turnover rate. The owners have established their own training program through which new hires are given an employee handbook that outline’s the centre’s expectations. The managers of each department are then responsible for the hands-on training, a process both David and Jordan oversee.

The garden centre launched a new website at the beginning of the year and it has been the perfect way to stream one of the business’ most successful promotional tools: a television show called Way to Grow. The 30-minute segment is filmed and packaged by Shaw TV, the local television station, and presents growing and gardening tips from Lacoste’s grower and general manager, Duayne Friesen. The relationship with the television station began four years ago when Shaw TV asked Lacoste Garden Centre to take part in a segment about Christmas trees. The TV spot was a success and led to Way to Grow, a series with about 10 episodes a year. The informational program isn’t a hard sell to advertise products or sales, but instead a program to teach people about gardening. “It’s great because it’s a long segment – like a 30-minute ad – and it’s educational so when people listen to it they retain the knowledge and they retain our brand,” says Jordan. “It solidifies in the customer’s mind that when they come down here they are going to be talking to an expert in the industry so that’s been one of the key benefits,” David adds.

When asked what the garden centre is best known for, David says that Lacoste Garden Centre customers have come to expect a high level of service. “We offer a carry-out service – we pretty much do whatever we can for that customer. One of the things Jordan and I have is a passion for people and I think that when you’re in the retail industry you have to have that passion. I don’t care what industry you’re in, one of the things we don’t like is when customers are ignored.” Customers are greeted as soon as they enter the garden centre and their needs are taken care of in every way possible.

The Hieberts are always looking at how they can improve the business and keep a strong focus on the future, a trait that’s been key to Lacoste Garden Centre’s success. “We never stop growing. I think it’s been the aggressive growth that Jordan and I have been doing. We are always changing,” says David. “We keep investing in the company through infrastructure, through people, through different products. If a customer visits us in the spring, then the next time they come, the garden centre’s going to look different. It’s all part of the show that we like to put on.”


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