In the Very Small Business category, Visser Greenhouses of Manhattan is the recipient of a State Farm Family Business award. The awards are made each year by the MSU Jake Jabs College of Business and Entrepreneurship.
In the late 1960s, Don Visser built a small “hobby” greenhouse in his backyard. People began stopping to see if they could buy plants, so he started a greenhouse, nursery, and landscaping company in 1970 under the name Don’s Landscaping.
As time went by, Don had the opportunity to be a part of a sod farm and also bought controlling interest in a large retail/wholesale flower shop in Bozeman named Milam’s.
In the spring of 1985, he sold his share of the business to a minority stockholder. With the proceeds from that sale, he started Visser Greenhouses in its present location. Don’s son Jay grew up in the business. From the time he was very little, he enjoyed working with his dad. In the early years, he helped lay sod on a landscape project on West Main in Bozeman, hauling sod from the truck to the site in his little red wagon and assisting in any other way he could.
Over the years, he worked side by side with his dad. He even started a small nursery business of his own while still in school. In the spring of 1986, he graduated from Manhattan Christian High School and jumped into the new business endeavor with both feet. Since then, Jay and Don have worked hand in hand to develop the business.
The rest of the family has been very involved as well. Don’s wife, Lola, and Jay’s wife, Ann, have worked closely with their husbands.
Don’s son John is also an important part of the operation, mixing soil and filling the thousands of pots that get planted each year, while also joining in the shipping process. Jay and Ann’s four daughters grew up at the greenhouse, and, as they grew older, all spent many hours working alongside their parents and grandparents.
Today, the third generation has officially joined in the family business. Jay’s daughter, Amber, graduated with a bachelor’s degree in plant genetics from Cornell University in the winter of 2015. She has returned home to continue the work her grandpa and dad started. Over the years, there have been many new ideas, thoughts, and ways of doing things. However, some things never change.
Visser Greenhouses remains committed to providing quality at a fair price. The same dedication and hard work continues from one generation to the next.