Century of Service
2002 - present | THE Grimes partnership
1991 | Garden Leaders Introduced
today | THE Grimes partnership
In 2002 Gary Grimes, Board Chairman, established a partnership to add stability and long-term predictability to the company. In addition to Gary Grimes the partnership includes two key managers, Bill Watson and Rod LeDrew.
- Gary Grimes – CEO– Joined Grimes in 1984. Responsible for company vision, mission and marketing. Director Garden Leader Alliance Operations.
- Bill Watson – President – Joined Grimes in 1989. Responsible for company management and directs all company operations.
- Rod LeDrew – Vice President – Joined Grimes in 1989. Manages and Directs the Grimes Horticulture Sales & Marketing team.
Since the formation of the partnership the company has achieved excellent growth.
In 1984 Gary Grimes purchase the company, then known as H.G. German Seeds. At that time annual sales were one million dollars. With no bedding plant industry experience Gary used sales and marketing techniques learned at General Mills, Gillette, Spalding and MGM, where he had management experience.
In 1989 the name of the business was changed from HG German Seeds to Grimes Seeds. It was changed because, as the company moved into additional states the name German was confused with other seed companies. In 1996 the company changed its name to Grimes Seed and Plants.
Seeds + Plants
Grimes maintains a fresh inventory of seed purchased from worldwide sources. In the mid 1980’s the industry began moving toward plugs and young plants - - and so did Grimes. While remaining dedicated to the seed business, the proportion of business done in plants has grown steadily each year. Grimes has innovatively developed a computerized “Plant Locator” system to speed up and streamline plant ordering. The system is especially effective and efficient during the January – April availability season.
During the 1980’s, after Gary purchased the company, growth came through the use of mail order techniques and advertising. Throughout the 1990’s, Grimes employed telesales operations and enjoyed rapid growth. More recently the company has used a combination or telesales and direct sales. Grimes attends numerous trade shows and sells actively throughout North America.
Grimes Service and Customer Commitment
Grimes offers “Lightning Service” which is great service and fast response backed by the best systems and people in the industry. Grimes customers get immediate access to sales reps at (800) 241-7333. Grimes is committed to helping customers earn more money. This is accomplished through a helpful “Profit-Up” program. “Profit-Up” is a compendium of ideas that customers can use to increase their bottom line.
Gary positioned Grimes Seeds to appeal to medium and small growers offering superior service and wider selection featuring unique and novel varieties.
Marketing has been a key factor, which has differentiated Grimes Horticulture from its competition. During the late 1980’s Grimes Horticulture sales grew with newsletters and full-page advertising in every major industry publication. The company uses monthly promotions as incentives for growers to use new and unique varieties.
The Grimes Garden Leader Brand: Gary & Rod developed the Garden Leader Brands based on a strong belief that garden performance is the top priority for any variety. Garden Leaders are field tested to provide the best outdoor performance. Garden Leaders were the first brand introduced in the bedding plant industry. The Garden Leader product line includes seeds, plugs, vegetative cuttings and liners. A Garden Leader alliance has been formed to market and promote Garden Leaders. The alliance includes Grimes, Pan America Seed, Syngenta, Floranova , Vegetalis, etc. Garden Leaders are being advertised in magazines, websites and catalogs. Merchandising P.O.P. materials are available.
The Grimes Catalog: A major company effort is the catalog, which is produced annually. The catalog has grown with the business. It is respected for its innovation and through cultural information. The catalog contains the widest selection of seed/plant varieties in the world. The first all color Grimes catalog was produced in 1986. In recent years the catalog spans 400 pages. Due to the popularity and wide distribution of the catalog industry seed and plant producers advertise in the Grimes Catalog.
Grimes Location and Move: In 1993 the company moved from Smethport, Pa to Concord, Ohio, which is 30 miles east of Cleveland. The move was made to provide greater access to a metropolitan area. In 2004 the company purchased its headquarters building a 11335 concord-Hambden Rd. Concord, OH 44077.
In 1941 Ronnie German, son of Harry German, the founder, began to learn the business from his father. Ronnie worked at The Quaker State Oil Refinery, and took time off from work to learn the seed business. Harry took Ronnie on short one-day sales trips and introduced his son to customers. Ronnie learned about the operation of a greenhouse and important points on growing and selection of the best varieties for various geographical areas. In 1947 Ronnie produced the first company catalog. The catalog had a color cover and 18 black and white pages. It was 4” wide and 9” long. By 1950 the catalog had color on both the inside front and back covers and was expanding. The first 8” x 10” catalog was printed in 1953 and contained 28 pages in black and white.
In 1949 Ronnie started to run the business on a full time basis. Ronnie traveled to make sales and build strong relationships. Ronnie conducted extensive field trials to test various seed varieties and to learn more about their habits. This trial garden at his house where the business was located was extensive. In 1960 Ronnie was appointed a full All American Flower Trial Judge by All American Selections. After selling the business Ronnie receive honors from Michigan State University and All American Selections. He passed away in January 2004 and is remembered as one of the leading bedding plant seedsmen of the 60’s, 70’s and the 80’s.
Harry German started the business in 1925. Harry was the manager of Norwich Chemical Company and lived in Smethport, Pa. He was always an avid gardener and became interested in dahlias and sweet peas. He decided to go to California to learn more. He drove to California to visit the Denholm & Holden Co. (now owned by Pan American) and the Waller-Franklin Co., (now owned by Pan American) and Bodger Seeds, Inc.
Based on what he learned on his California trip and experience, Harry Decided to go into the seed business as a hobby and sell seeds to Florists-Greenhouse operators. Harry went to Philadelphia several times a year to visit his parents; on these trips he visited major growers and sold sweet peas, delphiniums, begonias and cyclamen. This was during the period when sweet peas were a major green house crop. Some growers purchased several pounds, mostly in separate colors.
From Smethport, Harry made daylong trips to the nearby areas and sales gradually increased. He soon covered a lot of Pennsylvania and some of southern New York State. He never printed a catalog. Harry loved the seed business, but never did it on a full time basis. Harry passed away in 1949.