Running one small business would have many people in the weeds. But for one gardening company, cultivating three corporations has been key in making the small business grow into a big deal. “When you really get down to it everybody’s into gardening in one way or another, it’s kind of the roots of everything,” said Evan Folds.
That is why Evan Folds started Progressive Gardens, a gardening retail store. He never imagined the seeds he planted seven years ago would help him branch out as president of two more companies. “It’s very easy to think that it would be overwhelming to run three companies, but they all kind of feed themselves,” he said.
With the help of the North Carolina Small Business Technology Development Center, Folds started Progress Earth two years ago. The wholesale company sells gardening and wellness products to retail stores throughout the country, including Progressive Gardens.
“You’re selling to yourself, you’re buying from yourself, you really control your destiny a little bit more than if you were just sort of out there at the mercy of vendors and customers,” described Fran Scarlett of the North Carolina Small Business Technology Development Center.
But it was customer demand that led Folds to create the third company – A Natural Approach. The landscaping and gardening business bloomed after Progressive Garden customers asked for expert help at their homes. Folds said having three businesses allows customers to get as much or as little help as they want. “We can meet you half way, you can do it yourself, or we can do it for you. It’s really made it a lot easier on people.”
But Folds said his sprout to success would not have been possible without help from the SBTDC. Coming from a background in biology and religion, Folds knew little about business and marketing. “They’ve kind of allowed us a level of awareness throughout the community that we wouldn’t have had otherwise, and also helped us obviously with the economics,” Fold said.
“Small businesses are going to be the gap filler, they’re the ones that are going to have to create the jobs,” said Scarlett. Jobs people like Ryan Olsen will fill. Olsen, now one of nine employees, started working at Progressive Gardens before the other two companies were founded. Seeing the business grow has given him a personal stake and understanding of all three companies.
“It really gets you involved as more than just an employee, but a person who really cares about the products and what they’re going to do for the world and the people around,” said Olsen.
This means if one business is going through a drought, employees can dig in some where else.
Folds has once again partnered with the SBTDC through UNCW’s Learning Alliance. MBA students will work on a growth and profitability profile for free.
For more information visit the following links:
Progressive Gardens – www.progressivegardens.com
Progress Earth – www.progressearth.com
A Natural Approach – www.ana-livingsolutions.com
SBTDC – Fran Scarlett (910) 962-3744 www.sbtdc.org