Bergman Nurseries closing retail side of business

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How does a family-owned small business replace employees with more than 75 years of experience?

In the case of Bergman Nurseries, you can’t.

John Nieders, the greenhouse manager, is retiring at age 81. He has managed the greenhouse since the turn of the century. After nearly 30 years with the nursery, landscape designer Keith Klusmeyer has taken a position with a national green industry organization.

That has led owners to make the decision to close the nursery’s retail operation.

Todd Friye, co-owner of Bergman’s, said finding men with that array of knowledge doesn’t just grow on trees (pun intended).

“The wealth of knowledge that you have to have as a staff member in a garden center is incredible,” Friye said. “Because the questions range from ‘how to deal with fruit trees and vegetables’ all the way to shade trees and roses, what chemicals to use for this and what’s going on with my turf. The knowledge required is just so well rounded.”

The condition of the greenhouse, built in 1940, also weighed into the decision. 

“Lots of glass. We have uneven concrete, narrow walkways, and it was in dire need of repair,” Friye said. “Customer safety is a huge concern.”

Remodeling and renovating the greenhouse would require a complete demolition and rebuild to meet the standards such as ADA compliant aisles and accessibility, making the project cost-prohibitive. 

The Friye family purchased Bergman Nurseries in 1999 after 60 years of ownership by the Bergman family. Located at 3715 N. 12th, Bergman’s will continue to provide residential and commercial landscaping and irrigation. Friye believes the closure of the retail center will help customers receiving those other services.

“We’ve refocused how we’re approaching our business on the landscaping and irrigation side,” he said.
“I think with both owners (Todd co-owns the business with his brother Trevor) being solely involved in that aspect of the business, we will become more efficient operating the company. Our sales process will become more efficient. Because of that, we will do a better job servicing more customers.”

Bergman Nurseries will honor all plant warranties from 2022. All gift cards will be honored for services, product or refunds until 2024. The nursery continues to offer small plantings, rock, mulch, top soil deliveries and residential design for do-it-yourselfers. 

Choosing to close the retail side did not come easily.

“This was the hardest decision we have ever made during our 24 years of owning Bergman Nurseries,” Friye said. A big reason people shop at Bergman Nurseries is the knowledge of our staff. It’s just impossible to replace the knowledge of John and Keith. Unfortunately, keeping the retail side open wouldn’t meet what customers had come to expect from Bergman’s.”

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