The Free Press, Mankato, MN

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December 5, 2012

A store of inspiration: Hilltop Florist still grows its own

(Continued)

MANKATO —

Noel: Kathy designed the exterior and the interior of this expansion of our new retail shop. All the things outside, the pergolas, the gates to the greenhouse.

Kathy: I was working for KSA Architects at the time.

MVB: How do you deal with the “ex” dynamic?

Larry: We made a conscious decision to be nice to each other. It’s actually a very significant relationship. It didn’t have to turn out that way. It was good for our children, good for us. It was healthy. We grew up together, so she knows me pretty well. It’s hard to get away with anything.

Kathy: It’s never been an issue. They’ve set a super great example.

 

MVB: Larry, what is it like working with your ex-wife and current wife?

Larry: In the first place, they’re both very nice people, qualified, intelligent, dedicated and independently driven. They’re just two good people working together. For me it’s simple, I work with two very good people who I respect for what they do here.

Noel: You spend a lot of time hiding in the greenhouses.

Kathy: We don’t gang up on you too much.

Larry: If I’m in trouble, I’m in trouble with both of them.

 

MVB: What are your roles in the business?

Noel: Over the last 10 years, I’ve been slowly going into retirement. Kathy has covered all the bases and filled in whatever I did. She has taken over. It’s much easier to have one person know all the ins and outs. She has taken over and delegated and has let us all assume different roles when she needs them. I’m grateful, very grateful. It’s allowed me to have so much freedom.

Larry: I’m developing a new role. I’ve been gone. Kathy’s taken over my responsibility as well. Now I’m working my way back with the small things, but they make a difference: delivery, vacuuming, cleaning, working on the soils and chemicals that we use in growing ... I’m trying to make the best possible plant I can. I’m trying to grow a plant as close to perfection. We have each plant for 12 to 16 weeks and then they’re out the door. We learn from that each time. It’s a one-year learning curve. Every change we make is subtle to improve the plant. I don’t think that will ever end. Mass producers can’t do what we do and make any money. They can’t give the attention that we do.

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