Vite Greenhouses of Buchanan gets national recognitionPublished 9:09am Thursday, January 30, 2014
A Buchanan garden center joined the ranks of the horticulture industry’s leading independent garden centers when it was named as one of Today’s Garden Center magazine’s “Revolutionary 100 Garden Centers” for 2014.
Vite Greenhouses, located on Redbud Trail in Buchanan, received the designation earlier this month. It is the second time the family-owned business has been named to the list.
Don Vite runs the center with his brothers, Jerome and Greg.
He said the company’s use of technology and social media is one of the main reasons it was chosen.
Vite Greenhouses’ website — vitegreenhouss.com — contains an interactive greenhouse map that allows users to easily search for and locate a specific plant. Users can then print the map and use it to find each item in the 65,000 square foot greenhouses.
“There are a lot of plants here — over 1,500 plants and 12,000 hanging baskets — so customers really enjoy that (map) feature,” Don said. “It really saves them shopping time if they don’t want to linger out there. We have lots of customers printing out the maps, smiling and saying, ‘I’ve got the map with me.’”
The website also offers a calculator tool that helps people determine how many plants or how much mulch they would need to fill a given area.
“One of my goals was for us to have a world-class website and I think we have some very unique features,” said Don, who worked as a software developer before joining the family business in 2004. “We’ve had other garden centers inquire about some of the things we are doing.”
The Vites have also placed an emphasis on email marketing, while using social media websites such as Facebook and Twitter to promote business and engage customers.
“We try to utilize as many trends in technology as we possibly can because the younger generation is very familiar with that,” Don said. “We are seeing a real interest in (social media) and a lot of people signing on, especially in season.”
The Revolutionary 100 program, now in its eighth year, surveys independent garden center owners and managers and culminates in a listing of the 100 most revolutionary garden centers across the United States.
“Being named a Revolutionary 100 garden center is an honor we are humbled by,” Don said. “We are very grateful for our hard-working staff and our loyal customers, and to Today’s Garden Center magazine for taking us into consideration. We also see it as a challenge to ourselves to stay revolutionary — to continue to improve, to adapt to the changes in our industry, and to remain the garden center that our customers and the community looks to for quality plants, helpful service, and great selection.”
Garden center owners and managers nationwide fill out an extensive online questionnaire covering topics such as customer and community service, management philosophy, marketing, use of technology, purchasing and profitability.
Vite Greenhouses is owned by brothers Jerome, Don, and Greg Vite. Their parents, Bill and Madeline, transitioned to greenhouses from traditional vegetable truck farming in the mid 1980s. In the early 1990s, Jerome and Greg joined the operation that steadily grew to over an acre of retail selling space. During peak season they employ more than 30 people.
Vite Greenhouses is a grower/retailer, which means they grow nearly all the plants they sell from small plugs. They have a huge selection of annuals, perennials, fruit and vegetable plants, and flowering and ornamental trees and shrubs.
“The garden centers that made this year’s list are an exceptional group of forward-thinking independent retailers who have not only survived but thrived during a tough economy, which helps their community,” said Today’s Garden Center Editor Carol Miller.
To learn more about Vite Greenhouses, go to vitegreenhouses.com.
More information on the Revolutionary 100, including the complete listing, can be found in the January issue of Today’s Garden Center magazine and at todaysgardencenter.com.