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Chamber Awards Gala: O'Connor Family Greenhouses, Garden Center honored

Sat, Mar 18th 2017 07:00 am
Pictured, from left: Colette, Wendy and Tom.
Pictured, from left: Colette, Wendy and Tom.

By Jennifer Pauly

Niagara River Region Chamber of Commerce President

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The Niagara River Region Chamber of Commerce will honor businesses and individuals at its annual Chamber Awards Gala, from 6-11 p.m. Friday, April 28, at The Conference & Event Center Niagara Falls.

The evening is one of the highlights of the year, held to celebrate the business community and the citizens who help contribute to its success.

Tickets are available through the Chamber of Commerce office (895 Center St., Lewiston) at $100 per person (valet parking included).

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Ransomville Business of the Year:

O'Connor Family Greenhouses & Garden Center

The Niagara River Region Chamber of Commerce is pleased to announce O'Connor Family Greenhouses & Garden Center as the recipient of the Ransomville Business of the Year Award. The Ransomville Business and Professional Association assists the chamber in providing a business nomination that has shown dedication and service to the Ransomville community.

O'Connor Family Greenhouses & Garden Center has brought beautiful flowers to the Niagara community and beyond since 1980. We are fortunate to have this family-owned and -operated business in our region.

In 1981, Tom and Wendy O'Connor yielded their first crop, and also had their first greenhouse built on the farmland that Tom grew up on at 2234 Lake Road in the Town of Porter. Tom has a bachelor's degree in horticulture from Cornell. He and Wendy and their family have grown the business over the past 37 years to host 10 greenhouses on the property.

Each greenhouse is named after a Disney character and is equipped with heat and water to grow the plants. The hot air furnace system is climate-controlled with different temperatures set for whatever the greenhouses are growing.

This business has everything one needs for a garden, from annuals and perennials to hanging baskets, carrying many unique varieties.

Tom and Wendy start their growing process early in February to ensure the plants are ready for purchase during their selling season, which runs from mid-April though the first week in July. During that time, they are open from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. seven days a week. Memorial Day weekend has historically been their busiest weekend of the year, and last year was a great Mother's Day weekend, as well.

Over the years, Tom and Wendy have also sold mums, poinsettias and even Christmas trees. With such a short spring and summer season, their focus is on those peak customer planting times.

With over 30 years of business, O'Connor Family Greenhouses & Garden Center has found word of mouth is the best form of advertising. They garnered a new customer demographic a few years ago when they ran a series of television commercials. Their customer base is local, however. Many drive in from Buffalo and Rochester to purchase the unique varieties Tom and Wendy grow and sell. For 10 years, the Bidwell Market in Buffalo was also a way O'Connor Family Greenhouses & Garden Center broadened its customer reach.

The towns of Porter and Lewiston and villages of Youngstown and Lewiston have all benefited by using hanging baskets and bedding plants from O'Connor's to beautify their business districts. Tom and Wendy also donate their time and resources to create the beautiful floral display near the pond at Fatima Shrine. Their son, Mike, plants the entrance to Porter on the Lake Park.

"From the Grower to the Garden" is the motto of O'Connor Family Greenhouses & Garden Center. The philosophy has always been centered on the family working together to make the business a success.

Having the chance to work with their family is one of the best things Tom and Wendy said they like about running their business. Their family includes son, Mike, and his wife, Colette (grandchildren Jeremiah and Jonathan); daughter, Julie, and her husband, Jason (grandchildren Liam, Brendan and Reagan); son, Matt, and his wife, Abbey; and daughter, Jennifer, and her husband, Casey. Mike and Colette live next door to the business and will take it over when Tom and Wendy decide it's time to retire.

When you stop by, you will also be greeted by two friendly labs - Shamus and Gus - who are the official greeters at O'Connor, along with Pancake, one of the 10 cats. Pancake is the friendliest!

Tom and Wendy love doing business in this community. They agree that the mix of working with family, customers, working together and watching the plants grow into the "ready-to-plant" stage are all part of why their success has lasted over 40 years.

The Niagara River Region Chamber of Commerce and the Ransomville Business and Professional Association proudly congratulate O'Connor Family Greenhouses & Garden Center, the 2017 Ransomville Business of the Year.

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