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Mount Carmel CEO visited Hocking Green Thumb Greenhouse in Keensburg Monday morning for a business tour with Joy and Steve Hocking. Joy and Steve will soon be starting their 32nd year in business, and in that time, things have changed quite a bit. They started out with just two buildings, and from there, the business has continued to grow. These days, they are a year-‘round operation, though the retail side of the business is only open 6 months of the year. After more than three decades in business, Joy & Steve each know what their strengths are and who should be handling what aspects of the operation. They literally have it down to a science. On the business side of horticulture, however, the margins are razor thin, so a company like Hocking’s has to deal in volume. That’s why at least 50% of their sales are on the wholesale side, servicing other retailers across the region. Not only that, but there is a lot of competition, which in this area tends to come from the big box stores, such as Walmart and Menards. Joy and Steve count on their superior-quality products, their deep-rooted knowledge and a personal approach to customer service to set them apart. These are the things that keep their loyal customers coming back year after year. When asked how they learned to care for so many different varieties of plants, Steve replied, “we learned by experience, and sometimes, experience is expensive.” But, as is the case with many other business owners the class has heard from already this year, Joy and Steve continue to try to educate themselves and improve their business. “After 31 years,” said Steve, “I’m still learning.”

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