TRAVERSE CITY, MI – The natural beauty of Northern Michigan is what draws many to the region, and this year’s top small business is in its fourth decade of making the Grand Traverse area a more beautiful place.
Pine Hill Nursery & Landscaping, which has helped area home and business owners beautify their properties for 36 years, was named the 2015 Hagerty Small Business of the Year by the Traverse City Area Chamber of Commerce. The award was presented Thursday afternoon at the Small Business Celebration Award Ceremony held at Northwestern Michigan College’s Hagerty Center attended by more than 200 people.
“This year’s Small Business Celebration Top Ten finalists included a diverse group of very impressive businesses that range in size from five employees to nearly 50,” said Tanya Berg, a local SCORE business mentor who’s among the SBC judges.
Pine Hill Nursery is a family-owned business founded in 1979 by Ralph Naples and his wife Sandy, along with Ralph’s sister Jeanine Rubert and her husband Fred. It employs nearly 50 workers. The original location, along U.S. 31 North in Kewadin, significantly expanded its greenhouse facilities in 1995 allowing the company to grow many of its own plants and increase its selection. A second location opened on Carver Street in Traverse City in 2000. The company also specializes in native plant species, offers environmentally friendly “water wise” plants and features products that improve soil biology and natural pest management. Pine Hill Nursery also connects with the community with on-site classes and workshops so customers can learn to grow and cook their own vegetables, diversify their landscapes and introduce children to gardening and ecology. It also supports various volunteer and non-profit efforts in the area.
“What stood out about Pine Hill Nursery was its 36-year track record, a passion for both its business and customers, and the ability to continue to grow in spite of a significant increase in the number of competitors,” Berg said.
Other SBC finalists included: Brickyard Towing; Cash n Carry Flooring; Hallmark Construction Inc.; High Five Threads; NeXt IT; Studio 415 Salon; TentCraft Inc.; Waara Technologies and Williams & Bay Pumping Service. Chamber Executive Director Laura Oblinger said the Small Business Celebration generates a diverse and dynamic group of finalists each year and that 2015 was no exception.
“The amazing success and community contributions of all these companies really speak to what the Small Business Celebration is all about,” Oblinger said. “The Chamber is proud of all the finalists and is excited to add Pine Hill Nursery to the distinguished group of Hagerty Small Business of the Year Award recipients.”
This is the 11th year of the Chamber’s Small Business Celebration, launched in 2005 to highlight the significant role that small business plays in anchoring Northern Michigan’s economy. The award is named for Hagerty insurance, the world-wide classic car and boat insurance company based in downtown Traverse City. Recipients receive up to a $5,000 match from Hagerty for their community giving efforts, plus 40 hours of executive team consulting services from Hagerty.
Past Chamber Small Business of the Year recipients include:
- 2014 – Oryana Natural Foods Market
- 2013 – Kalkaska Screw Products
- 2012 – Plascon
- 2011 – Integrity Home Health Care
- 2010 – Great Lakes Stainless
- 2009 – FAST Physical Therapy & FAST Fitness
- 2008 – Springfield Roofing
- 2007 – Grand Traverse Ophthalmology Clinic
- 2006 – Traverse City State Bank
- 2005 – Distribution Solutions International
The Chamber’s 2015 Small Business Celebration is made possible through the generous support of Priority Health and Northwestern Michigan College.