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Backyard Greenhouses - How the Company was Started

December 5th, 1999:

GUEST ARTICLE:

New Kids On The Block: Shelley finds the perfect Fit

by Karen Hall
Windsor Star Business Editor

Backyard Greenhouses
Sika Occupational Footwear
Ecolad Corporation
2539 Dougall Ave.
1-800-665-2124

When Shelley Awad can't find what she wants, know what she does? She goes out and starts a company.

An avid gardener, Shelley wanted a backyard greenhouse so she could grow her flowers all year round.

"I found they were extremely hard to come by," she says. "It took two years of research before we finally found one we liked."

In fact, she liked the Jacobs Jaco Lite residential greenhouse so much she bought it, then opened a company to sell the product to other frustrated gardeners.

The result: Backyard Greenhouses, which started as a home-based company in 1999 and grew as fast as the rare tropical seeds she stocks.

 

 

Shelley Awad of Backyard Greenhouses displays some of her gardening products designed for children in her Dougall Avenue business. Star photo: Dan Janisse

Mitch Awad of Backyard Greenhouses assembles one of their products in Windsor. Star photo: Dan Janisse

The company has become one of the largest suppliers of greenhouses and pool enclosures in North America and Agrilab, a division of Acrolab, turned to her when it needed to test a revolutionary new heating system for greenhouse use.

Now the vice-president of the Ecolad Corporation -- her husband Mitch is president -- the Awads have combined her passion for plants with his environmental products, uniting the two divisions under one roof.

(Chances are those butt stops, recycling containers and new litter receptacles you see on city streets are his.)

But Shelley didn't stop there. She wanted to be comfortable while she worked in her garden retreat, yet she couldn't find the kind of footwear she needed.

Determined, she went out and asked questions, soon discovering she wasn't the only one looking for something to carry her through those 10-hour days.

"It became clear foot care was really becoming a big health issue," she says. "I could see that foot clinics were starting to spring up all over and the health benefits industry was noting a real rise in orthotics claims.

Baby Boomers

"I saw the problems people were having," she says, "especially the Baby Boomers and it seemed this would also be a good business to get into."

Research led her to a company from Denmark called Sika, which makes clogs for everyone from nurses and doctors to chefs, support staff and bank tellers -- anyone who's on their feet all day.

Sika even makes a steel-toed clog that retails for $129.99 and is used by almost as many hospitality workers as those in industrial jobs these days.

This year Shelley opened Sika Occupational Footwear and she's been negotiating with several local providers to get her product out there. As someone who's almost always in her comfy clogs, Shelley is also one of the best examples of someone who practises what she preaches. She's already brought several local stores aboard, including BioKinetics, Advanced Foot Care, Martina Dwyer Foot Care and Anthony's Uniforms.

So is this a good time to build a greenhouse? Shelley tells us plants like a winter temperature of about 45 F, so they should be fine tucked into their covered homes, just as long as you give them a little electric, gas or propane heat.

If there's a better way out there, we think we know how Shelley will handle it: She'll do a little research, ask some questions, then start a company.
 
Backyard Greenhouses
A div. of Ecolad Corporation
1-800-665-2124

 


Written By: Karen Hall
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