Companies agree to divide garden, landscape markets

January 26, 1995|By Howard Libit | Howard Libit,Sun Staff Writer

Botanical Decorators and Metzler's Garden Center, two of Howard County's oldest gardening and landscaping companies, have agreed to share customers rather than fight for them by focusing their efforts on what each business does better.

For the 19-year-old Botanical Decorators, a Clarksville firm, that means closing its retail garden supply store, taking over 2 acres of land at Metzler's Columbia site and expanding its lucrative landscaping business.

Metzler's -- which last fall celebrated its 30th anniversary -- will give up landscaping and enlarge its garden and florist shops.

The two businesses will continue to be owned and operated independently but will refer clients to each other. The move could be complete by March.

"There was just no reason not to do this," said Barry Wood, president of Botanical Decorators. "Metzler's has a very good garden center business that has attracted lots of customers over the years . . . so that's their niche.

"We have been doing landscapes very well, and that's really our niche. We're each going to concentrate our energies on what we do best," Mr. Wood said.

About 75 percent of Metzler's more than $2.5 million in revenue came from its retail store rather than its landscaping business, said John Metzler, who owns the store with his wife. The opposite applied at Botanical, which also had $2.5 million in annual revenue, Mr. Wood said.

Mr. Metzler and Mr. Wood said the move was more a result of potential future benefits than any current financial difficulties.

"Both stores can now have a singular focus on one portion of our businesses and provide greater customer service," Mr. Wood said.

Both said the stores also will combine purchasing, which could mean savings for customers.

Neither Mr. Wood nor Mr. Metzler expects any layoffs. They say some employees will shift permanently from one business to the other. Metzler's employs about 20 full-time and 35 seasonal workers. About 35 people work full time at Botanical Decorators.

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