Less than 30% of businesses last more than 10 years. That’s what makes the success of our Top Family-Owned Businesses so phenomenal. Founded in 1971, Baxter Gardens has grown from a small retail garden center to become a cornerstone of the community. William Weishaar Sr., founder of the company, passed the business to his three sons: James Weishaar (left), Bill Weishaar Jr. (center) and Chris Weishaar (right). Together, they have continued to grow the company.
Q&A with James Weishaar of Baxter Gardens
(From St. Louis Small Business Monthly Article, July 2020 edition)
Generation of Ownership: 2nd
What was the focus of the business when it was founded, and how has that changed over the years?
Baxter Gardens was originally the retail and residential landscape design branch of Baxter Farms, where Bill Weishaar, Sr. had worked for almost a decade. His idea was to take the quality nursery installations and expand it beyond commercial projects, making it available for retail sale as well as custom design builds for individual homeowners.
With the move to Chesterfield in 1977, Baxter Gardens filled the niche of custom landscape design for new and revitalized homes throughout West County. The expansion into irrigation and low-voltage lighting installation and service as well as full-service grounds maintenance has fueled the company’s growth since the early 2000s.
Baxter Gardens currently works with many of St. Louis’s premier custom home builders as a one-stop-shop for landscape, irrigation, and lighting installations. With fifty years in the nursery business, our portfolio of services has expanded to include patios, retaining walls, water features, and many styles of landscape design.
What traditions have you upheld within your family business?
We often talk about how our “family business” does not stop at just the Weishaar family, but also includes the families that have worked for us through the years. Many of our crew leaders have recommended their relatives to work here, which speaks volumes about the respect we show our employees and the culture we have created.
The same can be said for our clients, trusting Baxter Gardens to design their landscape, but also continually update and expand year-after-year. This reflects not only the quality of our work but the client-centered process. To then extend our services to their own families and the homes of their children makes our family business reach much further than just our ownership.
What have been your family’s keys to success in business?
Bill Sr.’s original idea was to tailor each design to the client’s individual preferences and home style. Although the plant material has changed in the last fifty years, the main principles of contrasting color, height, and texture have remained the foundation of our designs. We have been able to succeed by focusing on a quality product while also being flexible in what we deliver. No two homeowners are the same and neither are our designs. While commitment to quality is our foundation, it is the level of customer service that truly sets Baxter Gardens apart.