Craig Canoyer was a farmer from Carson, Iowa. He married his wife Kathy Pullen in 1971. They lived on a couple of different farms where they raised three children; Amy, Brad, and Kyle. Kathy had always enjoyed her flowers and planted lots of them each year.
In 1986, Craig and Kathy Canoyer started their greenhouse business as a hobby on their family farm in between Carson and Griswold, Iowa. Craig built a 200 sq. ft. glass greenhouse off the side of their double garage because of Kathy’s love for flowers. This greenhouse had a brick floor and a wood stair-stepped bench with small benches around the outside. Craig and Kathy started all of their plants from seed in the basement under grow lights. They transplanted each seed into flats that they filled with soil from a wheel barrow.
As people drove by the Canoyer farm and saw the flowers in the small greenhouse, they stopped and asked to buy them. It was amazing that people would stop to buy their flowers because Craig and Kathy lived 9 miles from any town.
In 1988, Craig built a 900 sq. ft. hoop greenhouse on the other side of the garage because of the demand for their flowers. This greenhouse had a dirt floor and wood benches. It was more convenient for customers to shop.
In 1992, Craig constructed a larger, more permanent, and efficient greenhouse, which was 2500 sq. ft. This greenhouse was computerized, had temperature controls, hard polycarb sides, double sheets of plastic on the roof that had air between them, benches to set the product on, and cement sidewalks for convenient shopping. This greenhouse had a check-out counter and could grow 1000 hanging baskets with its own watering system.
In 1993, another 2500 sq. ft. greenhouse was built at their Pullen farm, which was 3 miles southeast, so that product could be grown for supplying their retail greenhouse. This greenhouse was also computerized, had growing benches and sidewalks.
Craig and Kathy were now in operation 10 months out of the year. They had grown large enough to need help. They hired their first employee, Cathy Wyman, from Griswold, Iowa in 1992.
The Canoyers still continued to grow seeds in their basement and transplanted them in the shed. They filled all flats, pots, and hanging baskets from soil that they dumped into a wheel barrow. This was a very labor intensive process. In the spring season, Kathy and Cathy would write a receipt by hand for each customer because they did not have a cash register. As Kathy and Cathy ran the retail, Craig was still enjoying his farming and making the time to care for the greenhouse products.
The Canoyers sold a variety of products, but their zonal geraniums were their specialty. The geraniums are always started in December of each year to be ready for the spring season. Poinsettias are also another product that the Canoyers grow well. Poinsettias are grown in a variety of colors and sizes. They are started in August for sale in mid-November. Canoyers also provided the poinsettias for fundraisers to anyone who wanted to sell them.
The Canoyers business had blossomed into a wonderful business. They continued to hire seasonal help to transplant and for the retail. They decided they need to expand so they went looking for land to build a larger retail.
In 1998, construction was started for their new retail center, Canoyer Country Greenhouse on Hwy 92, 7 ½ miles east of Carson, Iowa and 6 ½ miles west of Griswold, Iowa. Craig, his sons Kyle and Brad, and one builder from Nexus Structures, built the new 10,000 sq. ft. retail area, 1000 sq. ft. gift shop, and 2000 sq. ft. office and transplanting area. This greenhouse had a glass front, hard-poly sides and top, temperature controlled by a computer, cement floors, vents and fans for air circulation, and nice benches for convenient shopping. The new greenhouse could grow 2000 hanging baskets which are all watered automatically by a drip system. The new retail also had shopping carts and a large parking lot for the convenience of its customers.
The 2500 sq. ft. greenhouse from the old place and the 2500 sq. ft. greenhouse from the Pullen farm were moved to the new location. The Canoyers were also able to expand their poinsettia production to 5000 plants in a variety of colors and sizes. The Canoyers now purchased products in cuttings from Euro-America, Ball Seed, Fischer, and others instead of growing their products from seed. They still filled pots, trays, baskets and floor containers from a wheel barrow.
In 1999, after 33 years of farming, Craig decided to manage his greenhouse business full-time. This was a big step. Craig loved his farming, but he would still be doing it with different crops. Craig has always been the head grower. That is why it is said that “Canoyers are growers at heart.” It stems back to Craig’s love for farming.
In 2001, Craig and Kathy’s Son, Kyle came into the business. He helped with the ordering of products, transplanting, growing, and sales of the products. In moving to the new location the Canoyers hired several employees to help with transplanting and retail.
In November 2002, a greenhouse and 20.1 acres were purchased in Lincoln, Nebraska. The facility was purchased to grow product to supply the Griswold Retail and for an investment. This land is not zoned for commercial use so it could not have a retail center built on it. Craig and Kathy’s Son, Brad came aboard as a part-time employee the next year to help with the growing of product out of the Lincoln location since he lived in Lincoln. The location allowed for Canoyers to produce more products for retail and wholesale.
Craig and Kathy’s business has been successful due to their wonderful customers. They provide their customers with quality, service, and personal attention. The customers also have the ease of shopping and the personal consulting from Kathy and her employees to help them choose the right products for their landscapes, flower beds, and containers.
As the Canoyers had done a lot of wholesaling of their products over the years, they decided that they were ready to expand their business into their own Garden Center. So they continued to look for land in the metropolitan area.
In May 2005, Craig and Kathy’s daughter, Amy Wyman came into the business part-time. Canoyers also had their longest employee still working for them, Lola Perdue. Lola has been with Canoyers seasonal since 1994. She was a retired farm wife who still helps each season make her special “LOLA Baskets”.
After 19 years of business, in August of 2005 the family finally decided they would build a garden center. They found land in Papillion, Nebraska where their son, Kyle lives. In November of 2005, the construction of the garden center was started by Rough Brothers. It was such a nice winter to start the project. Also, son Brad came into the business full-time.
December 2005, daughter Amy Wyman was brought on board full-time. As construction was moving right along, son-in-law, Marty Wyman was asked to join the business in January 2006 after working for his family business Wyman’s Ford for 19 years.
The Garden Center was completed and opened for Business on April 21, 2006. Canoyer Garden Center is a state-of-the-art facility. It is an all glass structure with natural ventilation (guillotine sides and atrium roof). This structure is 30,000 sq. ft. with a 5,000 sq. ft. gift shop. The Garden Center has a special tropical area, annual area, covered shopping perennial area, and a convenient shopping area for shrubs and trees.
Craig and Kathy are the owners of this Garden Center. Craig is the Head Grower of all Products. Kathy is the Gift Shop and Retail Manager. Son, Kyle is the General Manager and a Grower of the Grimes Garden Center; Son, Brad is the General Manager of the Papillion Garden Center. The Canoyers also added to their family business a tree and shrub manager, Valerie Johnson. Canoyer Garden Center also has wonderful seasonal employees too.
Canoyer Garden Center is a full service garden center open year round. The Canoyers started their business in a little 200 sq. ft. greenhouse and have accomplished now owning and operating a full service garden center.