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Small Business Q&A: Chattahoochee Home & Garden

This experienced East Cobb landscape design firm provides services to homeowners wanting to cultivate remarkable yards.

Outdoor work is first nature to Chattahoochee Home and Garden owner/operator Hardy J. Kaplan. At an early age, he greened his thumbs and earned allowance by heading petunias for his horticulturalist mother. His first ‘real’ job was at the landscape company that he now owns.

The design, consult and installation firm is located in an industrial park off of Shallowford Road, near Sandy Plains Road. Kaplan believes that service and good work are what grow a business.

Current economic drought has operations trimmed to one part-time office assistant and one installation crew. Kaplan goes on all the appointments and is hands-on when it’s time to plant a space that he’s designed.

“When people call Chattahoochee, they’re calling for me,” Kaplan shares, “Back in the early ‘80’s, when I was manager of Heritage Nursery, people referred to it as ‘Hardy’s Place.”

Q. What is the best thing about your job?

A. I enjoy being outside. I enjoy making people’s yards look better. I work for the ‘wow’ factor.

Q. What is the best thing about East Cobb?

A. I’ve been in East Cobb for 41 years and it’s nice to see it grow into a community. Years ago it seemed like there was a lot of transiency. Now more people are staying here.

I’ve done work at the homes of the grandkids of some of my long-time clients.

Q. Why did you choose to open your business in East Cobb?

A. The business was already established when I bought it from my boss’s widow in 1982. That was when the business name was Heritage Nursery.

We rented at the intersection of Lower Roswell and Johnson Ferry roads. I kept it there because it’s the heart of East Cobb. We had a garden center at the time and I changed the name when I acquired the assets.

I had to relocate to here, June 2008, because the traffic at that intersection was too much. We didn’t do any business after 3 o’clock because it was too hard for my retail customers to get in or out of the parking lot.

2008 is when I went into partnership with Sprinkalawn Atlanta. They own this building. We stopped being a garden center when we moved.

Q. Why did you pick this kind of business?

A. I’ve always been around plants. Right out of high school, I got into a motorcycle accident and I needed to get a job to pay for the repairs of my motorcycle, so, I asked Green Brothers Nursery for a job and they hired me. Ironically, the accident happened in front of the nursery.  

Green Brothers was the first nursery in the county. Green Brothers changed ownership and became Heritage. I like the work, it’s in my blood. I’ve worked at this business since 1971.

Q. What are some of the services you offer that people may not know about?

A. We are exclusively landscaping, including design and installation of hardscapes, lighting and irrigation.

Q. How did your business get started?

A. It’s the classic American dream. I had an opportunity to buy the business. I saw how it had been run and I knew that I could do a better job.

The business had accounts established with builders. Three or 4 years after I bought the business I quit doing work for builders because there was no creative freedom.

Q. Do you have advice for anyone who'd like to start a small business in this area?

A. Make sure that you’re not undercapitalized.

You really have to be service orientated in this economy.

Be prepared for competition.

It is amazing how much of a community East Cobb really is. I don’t advertise. I believe in, "do good work and the word’ll get around."

Q. Is there anything else you'd like our readers to know?

A. Stop wasting water. You can have beautiful gardens and have low water consumption and low maintenance. The variety of plants available is amazing. The genetic variations made with plants offers height specific varieties of say, holly. Our grandparents had two types of holly to pick from and both had to be trimmed to keep shape. Not anymore. Pick the right plants for the right place.

Hardy J. Kaplan, president

Chattahoochee Home & Garden

770-977-0981

www.chgdesign.com

1101 Via Bayless

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