Longtime Middletown business continues to grow

A Middletown business continues to blossom as it branches out into its seventh decade.

Berns Garden Center grows the bulk of its inventory at production greenhouses on the site where co-owners Al and Cherie Berns first founded the business in 1956.

“That’s what sets us apart from other companies,” said co-owner and daughter-in-law Jane Berns, the center’s office manager. “It’s not being shipped in from Florida or Canada or wherever and it doesn’t sit in the truck for a week. It goes from our greenhouses over there to here.”

It sells its staggering selection of flowers, plants, herbs, trees and shrubberies at a retail site opened at 875 Greentree Road in 1996.

Quality product and customer service from a friendly, knowledgeable staff are also a big draw for the business, said retail manager Karen Chasteen, who has been with Berns Garden Center for 32 years.

“Customer service is very high on our priority list, probably our highest priority,” Chasteen said. “We have people who buy stuff from other places who come in and ask us how to take care of it.”

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Having a wide selection of product, including container gardens, also helps, she said.

“We try to have at least one variety of just about everything,” Chasteen said.

That’s not only outdoors along the approximately 13-acre property. An indoor area offers everything from seeds, soil, tree, shrub and lawn products to wind chimes, garden statues, fountains and decorations.

Founders Al and Cherie Berns, 89 and 87, respectively, stay active in the business, Chasteen said.

“Mrs. Berns, she’s out here all the time,” she said. “She likes to come and see everybody and talk to customers. Mr. Berns stays in the production end but he does a lot of maintenance down there. He mows all the grass and he still works on vehicles. They’re both phenomenal how well they get around.”

The business employs about 75 people between its production greenhouses and retail locations, including a location that opened in 2011 at 3776 Ripple Road in Beavercreek. Staffing levels expand to around 140 during warmer months, Berns said.

Berns Garden Center’s offshoots include Berns Landscaping and Berns Personal Gardener, which makes home visits as far north as Dayton and south to Cincinnati to lay down mulch, tackle spring clean ups, prune shrubs and cut grass.

The best part of owning and working at Berns Garden Center is “all the people we work with every day,” Jane Berns said, adding that some employees have been with the business for two or three decades.

“We’re kind of like a big family,” she said. “We all know each other. We all know each other’s families and kids.”

Sharon Butts said she has shopped at Berns Garden Center since moving to Franklin Twp. in 2006 because of the excellent customer service and large, quality selection.

“It looks like they’ve taken special care in growing their flowers,” she said. “We came down once to talk to them about a cedar tree that we were having problems with and they gave us an answer on how to take care of that. They’re very knowledgeable.”

Joyce and Oscar White said they make the trip from Springboro rather than shopping other businesses that are more crowded and congested.

“It’s very clean (here) and they have beautiful flowers,” Joyce White said. “You can come here and find anything you want.”

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