Business is growing: Larson’s Greenhouse opens for season
IRON MOUNTAIN — After a long and harsh winter, Rick Larson is enjoying spring.
Rick and his wife, Judy, own and operate Larson’s Pine Creek Greenhouse at W6552 Upper Pine Creek Drive in Iron Mountain, which opened for the season April 27.
The bright, flowering botanicals the Larsons offer are the result of months of care, begun while the world outside the polymer film walls of the greenhouses still is blanketed in snow.
Using propane gas, Rick heats the greenhouses throughout winter, which prevents snow from weighing on the structures and allows Rick to fill trays and pots with soil in preparation for spring.
The 66-year-old Rick plants seeds and cuttings on the first day of February, a month in which the area saw a record-breaking 43.7 inches of snowfall this year.
Because of the heavy snow and extreme cold, Rick’s propane tanks — holding a combined total of 1,500 gallons — needed to be refilled often.
But, after plowing and shoveling his property, Rick would step inside the temperature-controlled houses to see climbing green sprouts.
Rick long has been enthusiastic about gardening. He struggled through supervisory and managerial jobs in industry for years, working in his garden in the evenings to ease his frustrations. But it was not enough.
Depressed, Rick decided to make a change.
If not, “I was going to die a young man,” he said.
Larson’s Pine Creek Greenhouse opened for business in 2002, starting with two greenhouses.
“It was a stressful thing in the beginning,” Judy said.
“We didn’t know what we were doing,” Rick added.
But 17 years later, the business continues to thrive. The Larsons now have four greenhouses with a total of 12,000 square feet of growing space and plan to build a fifth greenhouse in the future.
They offer flowers, fruit trees, vegetable plants, shrubs, grasses, herbs — all grown on site from seed. They are particularly proud of their mixed floral baskets, which 62-year-old Judy arranges.
“It’s a passion,” Rick said, adding he often works from 6 a.m. until sundown without noticing.
A strong work ethic is in Rick’s nature. It was something he and Judy tried to impress upon their three children and is something they see being passed on to their four grandchildren, who sometimes work in the greenhouse and earn money planting seeds, folding boxes and helping customers.
“They all have a little part,” Judy said.
“They bought a trampoline, paid for mostly with their own money,” Rick said.
The grandkids also have inherited Rick’s sense of humor, he said. They often hide in the greenhouses to surprise Rick when he is seemingly alone.
“They know I’m jumpy,” Rick said.
But Rick is happy to encourage a playful as well as productive atmosphere, much different than the jobs he worked almost two decades ago.
“Everybody has fun here,” Rick said. “I think that’s one of the reasons we’re successful.”