By Kelsey Foresta Community & Culture Beat Reporter
PINELLAS COUNTY, Fla. – Pinellas County is home to many unique businesses and shopping life, and one of the many popular retail types throughout the county are plant businesses and nurseries. With one on almost every corner, a lot of these nurseries are family-owned and operated and have been in business for decades.
Haynor’s Garden Design, Inc. is a multi-approach plant business located in Pinellas County.
Located at 1625 Starkey Rd., Haynor’s has called Largo home for over 35 years. Not only are they a plant nursery where they sell plants, pots, and other gardening needs, but they also design landscapes for residential and commercial spaces.
George Haynor, founder and owner of Haynor’s Garden Design, shared his experience of owning this business for the last couple of decades.
“The plant industry is usually pretty consistent I have found over my 35 years,” Haynor said.
Growing up on a farm in upstate New York, he gives his father credit for all he knows about gardening, landscaping, raising animals, and hard work. After working for his father in New York, he moved to Pinellas County, where he opened Haynor’s Garden Design, Inc.
“I wouldn’t trade it for the world, like me growing up on a farm. I wouldn’t trade that for the world because that made me who I am today,” Haynor said.
His wife Amy is their office manager, where she does bookkeeping, payroll and scheduling and helps formulate and send out estimates that George makes.
“They were teenagers and wanted some money,” Haynor said. “I didn’t hand it over to them, they actually had to work for it.”
Having your children work for your business is not always easy, but George wanted to teach his children a strong work ethic such as the one he learned on the farm from his father.
Haynor shared some great stories about the past few decades, whether he was working alongside his children or working on a project with his wife.
Working with family can be difficult at times, but also very rewarding. He described many bonding moments, and how they would get lunch together on work days and share their stories over the dinner table.
“We have great stories as we sit around the table,” Haynor said. “The stories get bigger and more elaborate as the years go on.”
He described his children as successful, with children of their own.
Eventually, his children branched off to other careers of their own, and he is a proud father and grandfather.
“It also made them who they are today, they exactly understand real work and what it takes,” Haynor said. “And they all have their own yards, and they all take care of them. And they look great.”
Aside from working with family, he described more in-depth the reality of being a local business owner over the past few decades.
The labor shortage has hit businesses very hard over the years, especially because of the COVID-19 pandemic affecting businesses worldwide. Haynor recalls the challenge he has faced in finding not only workers but skilled workers for his field.
He needs people who are trained in several different machinery and tools, and who know what they are doing regarding outdoor work. He describes these jobs as not easy, and a lot of damage can be done if you’re not knowledgeable about the tools you’re using and around.
“It’s essential for any business, especially for small business, because we are dependent on good help. It’s been very difficult in the past before COVID, but COVID really accentuated it because they paid everybody to stay home.” Haynor said.
His business was recognized as an essential business, and they were able to stay open during the entire pandemic. However, it was hard for his business to get products, as a lot of other businesses faced during and since the pandemic.
A major plus of owning a plant and landscaping business during this period was that everyone was stuck at home, so a lot of people were redoing their yards, starting gardens, and trying to be outdoors in their yards as much as possible.
“We provided a service in a sense of mental stability,” Haynor said. “When you’re trapped and you’re locked and you can’t go someplace or do something, to be able to garden and plant plants, for me it is great peace.”
He began to get emotional recalling how their business has helped so many people during this trying time, and how it helped him personally as well because he loves what he does every day.
He calls himself a blessed man – whether it is the people he meets every day and helps out or the opportunities his life and his business have created for him.
“A couple of different things have been really encouraging to me and have blessed me tremendously are two things,” Haynor said. “One, I get to do something I love, but two I get to have an immediate response when I do an install… They look at what I have created for them with their help. I get to bring smiles to people’s faces. I get to change their whole point of view. I get to extend their living area outside. I live and feed off of that.”