Let me tell you a story; The story about how we started The Gardener’s Friends pruning tools.
I hope that it will be interesting and somewhat entertaining to you. It is the story of our business and how it evolved. It is also the story of the birth and development of The Gardener’s Friends brand. So let me begin!
Thirty-five years ago in April of 1980 my wife Nancy, and I and our young family, left a very good secure and good paying job to become farmers. Both Nancy and I had grown up on farms.
My Mom and Dad wanted to retire so we purchased their dairy and orchard farm near Berwick, Nova Scotia. This is the very farm that I grew up on and that gave me my roots.
Our farm consisted of dairy cows (milk production) and fruit orchard and we operated a U-pick business. The milk production provided the bulk of our income. And… within five years we had built up our herd to being the top producing dairy herd in the province of Nova Scotia, setting new records for milk production per cow.
We had engaged on an aggressive regime of milking three times a day and our forage production provided the best possible nutrition for our dairy herd.
Our two daughters grew up working in the barns and in the orchard and loved to help our customers with U-pick in the fall. It gave them an incredible grounding in people, life and business.
There is so much more I could tell you but I want to stay on track and get to the point!
On July 31st, 1985 disaster struck our farm and our huge dairy barn burned to the ground in minutes from a spark caused by a hay conveyor. In a mere moment, everything changed!
But, we still had our youth and our health so we soon began a new venture. “Growing Trees for Landscaping”. This was the birth of what was to become our primary business over the next thirty years, Springvale Nurseries. Over that period we have grown thousands of trees and shrubs and have employed literally hundreds of people in the production and marketing of the nursery products.
Our nursery business grew to be the largest of its kind in our region and soon included retail sales and commercial large scale landscaping.
It is interesting how things evolve and one thing that doesn’t stop is the progression of time. Soon Nancy and I turned 60 and now we are both over 65 and at the point where retirement would be nice.
This is where it gets more difficult. It is really hard to sell a business when in truth, the business is you!
And as age and time have marched forward some of our physical capabilities began to slow down.
This has particularly impacted our hand and wrist mobility. Both of us have struggled with Carpal Tunnel Disorder and arthritis and Nancy has had a couple breaks which make it hard to use her hands.
So… when you have 75 acres of tree nursery, this is a BIG DEAL!
Both of us have used our trusty Felco pruners for decades, but these have now become too hard for us to use and require hand strength that we no longer have.
So, we began looking for solutions!
The 3-Stage Ratchet Pruners
We found a manufacturer that produces high-quality ratchet pruning shears and we made arrangements with this company to produce a line of pruning tools for us. We have found them to require much less hand pressure to operate because the ratchet mechanism works on the principle of leverage or mechanical advantage.
Now using this type of tool, pruning cuts take a bit longer to make because each cut goes through three or four stages. But at the end of the day we can still function and experience much less hand pain than before. These pictures graphically illustrate how the garden pruners work.
Once we personally fell in love with this product we decided; Why not make it available to everyone?
So we created The Gardener’s Friends brand and decided to use the services of Amazon.com to market our new line of products.
At first, our “line” was only one tool.
But we are gradually expanding this line to include more pruning tools and plan by the end of the year 2015 to be up to 6 – 8 products in our basket of garden tools.
From a personal point of view, this has allowed us to build a totally new business with much less physical demands compared to the nursery business. And though, we are still operating Springvale Nurseries we are seriously looking for a buyer or some manner of succession plan.
We love our work, our trees and our life but can’t continue with the pressures of a large business forever! So once we began having success with one tool we decided to look for and develop more product.
The Folding Pruning D-Saw
It is a very sharp pruning saw and without question can be used easily for cuts of up to 4 inches and perhaps more.
Also, the D-shaped handle allows for one to grip the saw with two hands and for folks like me with hand mobility issues, this is an awesome feature.
This can be used in the garden, on your shade trees, for pruning large shrubs or especially great as a small lightweight saw for hiking, camping, and survivalists of anyone else needed a very portable folding saw.
We are very proud of this tool and think it will fill a great niche.
The only down side we see is that this saw could be broken if not used properly. The blade is made of high quality spring steel to maintain its sharpness but because of this, it is also brittle.
Like any good quality garden tool, it must be used with care and used correctly. And that goes for any of our tools.
Our Future Products:
As the business grows we intend to invest in the development of more gardening tools for gardeners and especially for those with mobility problems. Our main line will continue to be pruning tools, shears, pruners, loppers, saws, knives and other cutting tools. And we always seek to follow a path of ergonomic design for our products.
So here are the tools presently on the drawing board:
- Ratchet shears in a smaller design for women and people with exceptionally small and weak hands.
- Ratchet loppers – in different sizes
- Telescoping loppers
- Compact fold up hand hoe weeding tool
- Comfortable gardening seat
- Garden snips and secateurs for specific uses
So these are some of our ideas!
What ergonomic gardening tools do you need? What would make your gardening life better? What problems, situations and bodily conditions are not being served by pruning tools presently available?
We look forward to and welcome your comments and please send us your success stories of uses you have found for our gardening tools. We also love pictures of your yards and gardens and with your permission, will publish some on our websites.
Thanks you for listening to our story! It thrills us to become part of your lives.
Paul and Nancy Grimm