Business based upon legacy
Third generation owner of local Harper’s Nursery, John “Jay” Harper, tells the story of his family’s legacy that built the business he and two brothers own today. Retiring as a firefighter in 1945, Jay’s grandfather, John Harper Sr., turned his love of horticulture into the family’s business after retirement.
John Sr.’s interest in plants began during World War II when it was common to plant a victory garden. Promoted by the government as a response to rationed food, victory gardens became a community approach to feeding one’s family.
In 1957 the second generation, son of John Sr., John Harper Jr., joined the business. John Jr. quickly added multiple locations. He passed on his love for horticulture to his three sons, as his father did to him. Oldest son, Jay Harper, fondly remembers his father as a good landscape designer and caretaker of plants. It was while he worked alongside his father that Jay realized he had an interest for plants, too.
Jay’s earliest memory of enjoying gardening was when he was 8 years old and worked at Harper’s on Saturdays. Even at a young age, Jay’s duties involved multiple areas of caretaking for the nursery. His work set the stage for how his two brothers would be involved with Harper’s.
Reminiscing of his childhood memories, Jay said, “Everybody worked a little bit during summers and weekends. As we got older, more responsibility came on our shoulders by working on the landscape crew.”
In 1990, Jay acquired the business from his father and with his brothers they transitioned to working together in the family business. The Harper brothers pride themselves on knowing this business inside and out.
Jay said, “We have expertise. Between the three of us, we have about 100 years of garden and landscape experience. We make house calls, design and install your home’s landscape from irrigation systems, to lighting, to simply planting one tree. You can walk in here and on any given day get one owner’s attention to make sure you get the right plant for the right place.”
Jay has a passion for the community support around the company. After all, this is how the legacy of Harper’s was originally established with John Sr.’s victory garden.
Jay said, “We love to support local things like Little League, PTO raffles, neighborhood events and we appreciate the neighborhood’s support of Harper’s.”
As a neighborhood outreach, Harper’s hosts monthly community events between October and May, such as a Rose Clinic where patrons can learn about roses and ask questions directly to one of the owners, then stick around for a barbecue hosted by Harper’s.
When asked what the family business and legacy meant to him, Jay said, “I am prideful of the fact that we’ve carried our grandfather’s name and his passion and love for plants and gardening. We pride ourselves on being knowledgeable. Having three generations of experience is something we can offer our customers to help them achieve their landscaping goals.”