From Greenhouses to Green Energy
For 116 years and four generations, the Metcalfe family is all about being green—greenhouses, green foliage and now, green energy. While the business and property has evolved over the years, a constant focus has always been about providing quality flowers, paying attention to detail, offering a variety of choices, but most of all, focusing on customer service.
Metcalfe Florist, located in Madisonville, Kentucky, was started on 100-acres in 1904 by Thomas Metcalfe. Thomas built 27 greenhouses and shipped cut flowers across the state within a 500-mile radius. At the height of his business, he owned and operated one of the largest greenhouses in the state of Kentucky, in addition to running a florist business. In 1931, Metcalfe Florist became a member of FTD to be able to better serve its customers with a network to send flowers to every part of the country.
With the help of his two sons Robert “Buddy” and William “Bill”, Thomas ran Pleasant View Greenhouses until the end of his life, and left the business to his two sons and two daughters. The sons continued to oversee the business until Buddy’s passing in 2007. Bill was solely in charge until his son Mark and his wife Penny purchased the property and business in 2015. The business is the oldest in Madisonville.
The thing I enjoy most about this business is helping others express their emotions.
Penny runs the florist and daily operations of the business, while Mark continues to run his flourishing landscaping and garden center that was founded on the property in 1986. The couple lives in a renovated building on the vast property. Prior working in the floral industry, Penny specialized in wedding photography, but quickly fell in love with the floral industry.
“The thing I enjoy most about this business is helping others express their emotions. No matter what the occasion, when someone orders flowers, they are trying to convey a message of love, celebration, forgiveness or friendship. I’m honored to be able to help them express that by ‘writing a letter’ with flowers.”
Always Evolving, Expanding and Progressing
In the early days, the greenhouses were filled with roses, snapdragons, mums, and spring bedding and garden plants. Today, all of their cut flowers are imported, as it is more economical to buy roses from Ecuador and Central American as opposed to growing them on the property.
But these aren’t the only thing that has changed. Time has taken its toll on several of the old greenhouses and nature has all but swallowed up four of the original structures. The remaining greenhouses include boxwoods, azaleas, hydrangeas, and landscaping shrubs and flowers. Over the past two years, several of the largest greenhouses have been undergoing a renovation and facelift.
Last June, the florist business was moved into one of the greenhouses. The new store front and floral design studio has a heated concrete floor, four stainless steel design tables, an area designated to silks, a bridal consultation area, a customized concrete countertop with the business name etched in resin as homage to Thomas Metcalfe. Another meaningful feature is the “new” double-door entrance. It is made from heavy wooden doors that Thomas originally made from Cyprus wood in 1920 to hang on the former boiler room that used to heat all of the greenhouses. A large sliding doorway leads to a section of the building that was restored to serve as a more traditional “greenhouse” and is filled with house plants.
Our passion is to support a green environment with solar electricity that will sustain our business each and every day—making our agribusiness ”greener” and more efficient.
Mark and Penny continue to restore and update. By December 2019, one of the greenhouses was renovated to hold 93 solar panels. It is the first company in the community of 19,000 to produce solar energy to power its business. “Our passion is to support a green environment with solar electricity that will sustain our business each and every day—making our agribusiness ”greener” and more efficient,” Penny explains.
The next project for Penny and Mark is renovating a greenhouse for an event center. “While flowers are our main focus, our challenge is to change and evolve with the times to best serve our customers,” Penny adds.
As the Metcalfes strive to be on the forefront of new technology and innovation, they know that success is all due to the continued support of the community and loyal customers. “The relationships that we have built and continue to build are very important to us,” Penny explains. “I have customers tell me they remember coming in when they were children. My hope is that our customer base continues to grow with the younger generations. And with that, it’s our personal challenge to stay current and relevant to younger consumers, as well as stay true to our lifelong clients. We are continuing to change and grow for the better. We want customers to enjoy the experience of shopping with us, and we believe that coming to our property is just that, an experience.”
It’s our personal challenge to stay current and relevant to younger consumers, as well as stay true to our lifelong clients.
Penny concludes, “I feel certain that Grandfather Metcalfe would be proud of all of the changes and restoration, and that we are continuing his vision and sense of community.”0