Match meant to be: New owners take over growing operation

Phil Castle, The Business Times

The owners old and new at Bookcliff Gardens Nursery and Landscape include, from left, Dennis Hill, Stephanie Griggs, Rick Griggs and Dan Komlo. HIll and Komlo, partners for 39 years, sold the business to the Grand Junction couple. (Business Times photo by Phil Castle)

Dennis Hill and Dan Komlo were looking for someone to work with their staff, care for their customers and sustain what’s long been a growing operation in every sense of the word.

Hill and Komlo found what they wanted and sold Bookcliff Gardens Nursery and Landscape to Rick and Stephanie Griggs.

“It was just kind of a match meant to be,” says Hill, who’s worked with Komlo as partners in the Grand Junction business for 39 of its 51 years. “They’re just a good fit.”

The Griggs say that while ownership has changed, nothing else will. That includes the name as well as the staff and what they see as a competitive advantage in quality products and friendly and knowledgable customer service.

“We want to get the message out Bookcliff is going to stay the same,” Stephanie says.

Ownership in Bookcliff Gardens Nursery and Landscape officially changed hangs Oct. 18, but Hill and Komlo plan to continue working there for at least a couple of months to help with the transition.

Hill long has managed the garden center, while Komlo managed landscaping and maintenance services. They say they’ve considering exit strategies for more than a decade and talked with business brokers about selling the operation. While there was interest, Hill and Komlo say they always looking for something particular in potential buyers.

Their first consideration, they say, was that new owners would want to work with the staff, which includes about 20 full-time employees and an additional 50 seasonal employees during peak times.

“We have a great team here,” Komlo says. “They have made our company what it is.”

The other consideration, Hill, and Komlo says, was a commitment to carry on a legacy of customer service.

The Griggs say the appreciate the experience and expertise the staff offers not only customers, but also them. A former educator, Stephanie says working at Bookcliff Gardens is like stepping back into a classroom. “They continually educate us.”

Rick brings to the operation his experience in operating two clothing stores in Breckenridge as well as a construction business. He moved to the Grand Valley about 20 years ago. Stephanie brings her experience in education as well as fashion merchandising. The couple have been married five years.

The Griggs say they were looking to purchase a local business and found what they were looking for in what Rick describes as an icon.

What started out as Mesa Mato, a business providing greenhouse tomatoes and cut flowers for local restaurants and florists, has grown over the past 51 years into the largest garden center and landscaping services business between Denver and Salt Lake City. The size of the staff has grown by a factor of five, Hill says.

Komlo says moving what were separate greenhouse operations on E Road to the company’s 7.5-acre site on 26 Road helped to not only improve efficiency, but also bring the staff together.

Looking for ways to diversify the operation also has helped over the years, he says — adding maintenance and snow removal services and selling produce, for example.

Sales have grown along with the operation. Hill says 2019 has been the best year ever for Bookcliff Gardens with a 14.5 percent increase in year-over-year sales compared to 2018.

Hill attributes success over the years to offering a large selection of quality plants along with knowledgeable service that takes the fear and mystery out of gardening and landscaping. “I see us as a community resource.”

Rick Griggs says its important to continue to offer quality products and customer service to differentiate Bookcliff Gardens from competitors. “You’re surrounded by knowledgeable people.”

And as the Grand Valley continues to grow, Bookcliff Gardens offers a convenient central location, he says.

Hill says Bookcliff Gardens might be changing hands — but not hearts. “It’s going to be the same Bookcliff. It really is.”

For more information about Bookcliff Gardens Nursery and Landscape, call 242-7766 or visit www.bookcliffgardens.com.