If only Kenton Neuhouser had been able to hold out through this year, next year might have been a bright one for the nursery and landscaping businesses he's owned for 25 years.
Instead, he closed them Tuesday. The closed businesses are Neuhouser Nursery, 8046 Stellhorn Road; Neuhouser Garden & Gifts, 4605 W. Jefferson Blvd.; and Neuhouser Landscaping. All remaining contracted work will be completed, a company news release said.
Sales were awful this year. Neuhouser said the continuing weakness of the economy, plus the drought, cut deeply into his business this year.
“If we could have held out until next year, the damage from this year could very well have benefited us, both in retail and in landscaping,” he said. However, he couldn't establish credit to carry his business through the winter. The company's bank, with which he'd worked for more than 30 years, dropped its annual line of credit, and eliminated its local small-business lending department, he said in a news release on the closings.
Neuhouser Landscaping was founded in 1977 by Joseph Neuhouser, Kenton Neuhouser's brother, and grew to include a small retail nursery on Stellhorn Road, which was managed by Kenton Neuhouser, he said in the statement announcing the closing. Kenton purchased the company and expanded the garden center 25 years ago, the news release said. The company opened its Garden & Gift store on Jefferson Boulevard in 1994.
The owner said Tuesday that most of the gift and plant inventory has been sold already. He's not sure how he'll get rid of what remains.
“We'll need to liquidate more inventory,” Kenton Neuhouser said. “I'm not sure whether an auction, or maybe there will be an option to sell the remaining plants to other nurseries.” He said he thought it was more likely that he would be able to move the relatively small amount of remaining inventory without an auction.
Nor is the 52-year-old sure what his next move will be after he wraps up the businesses. “I don't have anything planned,” he said. “I'll be taking this day-to-day.”
With the closings, 13 full-time employees (besides the owner himself) and seven part-time employers have lost their jobs. Neuhouser said that four of the employees had already returned to school.
He said people can contact the company with questions or comments at firstname.lastname@example.org. Comments also can be posted to the company's Facebook page.