Transition from one generation to the next

Wenke Greenhouses has been around for well over 50 years.

Both sets of my grandparents were in the business.  And now, I’m the third generation!  It’s with humility and excitement that I get to talk about the transition from my father and uncle to my brother and I. 

Some of my earliest memories are of being around the flowers that were growing at Wenke Greenhouses. Back when I was young, we lived in a house that was in the same spot that our retail store is currently located. I remember my entire family – grandparents, aunts and uncles – all working in the greenhouses. Many of you remember my grandmother, Effie Boven and her dog Troubles. Effie loved to talk with the customers about flowers and so much more. My grandfather, Chris Wenke, may not have been as well known with the customers but was always behind the scenes growing the best tomatoes. At night, my parents would talk about what needed to be transplanted and where it would go. I remember very well the night that the storm came and the greenhouses caved in under the weight of the snow. This was truly a small family business. I did not always appreciate it back then. But as I went off to college and worked in other businesses, I came to learn that our family business was really a very wonderful opportunity and something that I was very proud of.

I have now been back with the family business for over 20 years. It has changed a lot since the early days. My father and uncle have grown the business into being one of the largest growers in the country with locations in Georgia and in Michigan. We have a young plant division that sells starter plants to other greenhouses as well as a wholesale business that sells beautiful plants to garden centers and landscapers. In Kalamazoo, we’re well known as a great place to purchase flowers and vegetables for planting around your home. We’re in the business of making the world a better place with flowers.

So with a great deal of humility and excitement, I wanted to let you know that on December 31st, the ownership of Wenke Greenhouses transitioned from the 2nd generation to the 3rd. My brother, Jeff Wenke, who recently moved back to Kalamazoo with his family and is a pastor at The Bridge, and I are now the official owners of Wenke Greenhouses. My husband Andy and I are committed to the business and have a terrific team of people who work with us. We look forward to continuing the tradition.

Thank you for all your support in the past and we look forward to the years to come.

Article written by Lisa Ambrosio. March 2013

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