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Sustainable success

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Fiscal conservatism helped these Detroit companies thrive during the worst of the economic downturn.

Kristen Hampshire | March 22, 2012

In 2008, when discretionary income for landscaping or any life pleasure was less fluid, Deborah Silver wasn’t sure if she’d continue attracting buyers to her Detroit Garden Works retail shop. She had loyal customers, people who were drawn to her work – but would they continue to spend?

Silver, president of Deborah Silver & Co., a landscape design/build firm, Detroit Garden Works and Branch Studio, which manufactures garden goods, discovered something quite different.

People still wanted their garden fix.    

“What I do makes people feel good – flowers give people pleasure,” Silver says. “People like being able to make something grow. It’s an achievement. It’s something that makes people feel good about themselves and their environments."

Silver interacted with many customers who visited her store and wanted something little to spruce up the landscape. Maybe a large-scale project was out of the question. But a beautiful pot? That expense was justifiable and in reach.

This give-and-take is the beauty of Silver’s three businesses. They piggy back off of each other in good times and in bad, though Silver says her design/build business continued to thrive during the tough economy because she practices fiscal conservatism. She learned some of her spend-with-care strategies from mentor Al Goldner, who owned the landscape firm Silver worked for before going out on her own.

“He always made a big point of saying you have to have some money socked away for a rainy day. And don’t buy a piece of equipment that you’re not ready to use all day long, every day,” Silver says. “In 2008, when our economy was just exploding, I thanked him for having pointed me in that direction, because we were able to thrive.”
 

 

This is one of three stories that appeared in Lawn & Landscape's Business Builder e-newsletter. To continue reading about how Deborah Silver has grown her three businesses:

Designed to grow: Deborah Silver’s three companion businesses fill the niche for specialty landscape and garden services.

Inspiring words:
Deborah Silver explores landscape ideas and pulls customers in with her blog.

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