As the garden grows… so does the gardener
Dave and Mary Hopper – Natural Plus Nursery, Clear Lake, IA
As you stroll along the brick pathway of Natural Plus Nursery, you are engulfed in a world of pure beauty. Vibrant flowers, rows and rows of gorgeous green plants and trees create an ambiance like none other. After the assault on your senses outside, step into the rustic building that houses planters, lawn ornaments, and other gardening décor. Your mind will begin to flash images of how amazing the merchandise will look within your own lawn and landscaping.
Thirty-nine years ago, Dave and Linda Hopper had a dream; a dream of beautiful plants, bountiful trees, and flourishing flowers. That dream became a reality when they opened Natural Plus Nursery just outside of Clear Lake.
Thirty-five years later, Dave and Linda decided to hang up their gardening gloves for good. They placed the nursery on the market and waited patiently for the right buyer to come along. That wait continued for almost two years with no offers. In the meantime their son, Dave, and his wife, Mary, began discussing their future and what they wanted out of their new life together. Buying Natural Plus nursery seemed to be a good fit – and so began their journey of becoming business owners.
Dave grew up working in the industry for his parents. He spent many hours in the summers during college amongst the plants and trees. For Mary, however, this was a whole new experience. They began cleaning up the nursery to make it their own and embraced a ‘learn as we go’ attitude. Each year they grow in their knowledge, with the help of some loyal employees who have been with Natural Plus for almost thirty years. And, Dave and Linda are never far away to lend a helping hand or supportive advice.
The scariest part for both Dave and Mary, was giving up the day job. To lose the steady paycheck, the benefits, it’s a big step for any young couple just starting out. But looking back, the Hopper’s are glad they took that step; to them, it was worth the risk.
When reality sank in that they were really going to buy Natural Plus, they decided it was time to pursue some advice from the professionals.
“We had no idea what it meant to own or buy a business,” Dave said. “So we reached out to the NIACC Pappajohn Center for help.” The Hopper’s took the Launch and Grow business class, a ten week course offered to individuals interested in starting their own business. There, they learned the ins and outs of being a business owner. They gained knowledge on how to build their own business dream team; from finding an accountant to a lawyer, all things they’d never considered. And now, even after four years of owning the nursery, Dave and Marry are still able to seek guidance when they need it.
The Pappajohn Center taught them the ‘behind the scenes’ aspect of running a business. Besides building the team, the Launch and Grow class was a plethora of knowledge about networking with community members and other businesses, and how to analyze the overall business’s success. Without them, the Hopper’s said they would have been completely lost. Thanks to NIACC and the Pappajohn Center, they were able to find their way.
For trees, shrubs, perennials, yard decorations, bulk mulch and rock, and more… stop out to Natural Plus Nursery and see the beauty for yourself. They are open Monday through Friday from 8am-5pm. Saturday from 8am-4pm, and Sunday from 12pm-3pm.