Ian Owens likes to say he is a 22-year-old with 22 years of experience in the garden business.
Ive been in the greenhouse since I was four months old, said Owens, currently the retail manager and buyer for Owens Garden Center in Pulaski County. This is a profession that literally grows on you. You have to have a passion for this. The last thing I think of before bed is about what needs to be done the following day.
Owens, a 2008 graduate of Rockcastle County High School, probably could have stopped his education after finishing high school and gone straight into the family business. Personally, though, Owens said that simply wasn't an option.
Getting my college degree was a personal goal of mine and also something that my parents stressed to me as being important, said Owens. My mom is a big advocate of higher education and is currently getting her doctorate degree, but my dad graduated from the school of hard knocks. He always told me if he had to do it over he would have pursued his degree. I didn't want that hanging over my head and if you've ever met my dad, he's someone you just don't say no to, Owens said, smiling.
To pursue his dream, Owens enrolled at Somerset Community College (SCC) and received an associates degree in 2010. He then transferred to Eastern Kentucky University and is double majoring in marketing and horticulture with a focus on landscape design and greenhouse management. He plans to graduate from EKU in 2013.
The faculty members at SCC were so dedicated, said Owens. I wasn't expecting the caliber of classes I received there.
Owens said the fact that SCC was close to home, provided personalized attention, offered a scholarship and costs less were the main reasons he chose to attend the college for his first two years.
The professors are dedicated to you, he said. I liked the smaller classes because I got one-on-one time with my teachers and it was clear they really had a passion for helping students.
Now, Owens is driving back and forth from Richmond to the garden center where he puts in full-time work through the week and the weekends. The effort is worth it, he says, because he's learning things that can assist his family as take Owens Garden Center to a new level.
We are already integrating a lot of social media into our marketing plan, he said. And on the horticulture side, we are able to integrate a lot of what I learn into practice right here.
For example, Owens has expanded the container offerings from the center, as well as expanded the varieties of landscaping plants, trees and shrubs available.
A lot of people don't realize that they really can get everything they need right
here from garden gloves to gas grills and everything in between, he said.
Owens Garden Center is open year round. Owens said they now have added mums, pumpkins, Christmas trees, custom and mixed wreaths, custom and mixed containers and landscape consulting and planting to their offerings. In addition, most of their inventory is grown on-site.
The majority of our items are grown right here and if they aren't, they are from other certified Kentucky Proud growers, he said. But, of course, if there's anything a customer wants that we don't carry; we can get it for them.
Owens said the garden center is also one of the most technologically-advanced greenhouses in the area thanks to foresight from the family, assistance from the Center for Rural Development in Somerset and the K-card program, which helped secure funding for the facility.
This really is the Taj Mahal of facilities, Owens said.
Owens Garden Center is owned by Mark Owens. As a family operation, everyone helps out, Ian Owens said.
Were all in this together and were here to stay.
Owens Garden Center has been around since 1986. They are located at 735 Latham Road in the Woodstock area of Northern Pulaski County. For more information, visit them online at www.owensgardencenter.com or visit them on Facebook at www.facebook.com/pages/Owens-Garden-Center.