The Webb's Story
In 1981 the Webb's Farm & Garden seed was planted by a small town boy selling corn on the side of a local roads in Harford county. 36 years later Kevin Webb and family have grown their family owned and operated business into the premier E-Commerce distribution center it is today servicing the entire country, meeting all of their lawn and garden needs.
The Webb’s story cannot be told without telling the story of our valuable hard-working employees who over the years have become more than employees, they’re part of the Webb’s family.
"Working for a small business teaches versatility from selling plants and produce during the summer to Christmas trees in the winter. Working for the Webb family as a young man helped me develop a strong work ethic. I learned not only to work hard, but to have fun while doing so. My experience at Webb's Farm and Garden taught me how to be responsible and accountable in the workplace. I will forever be thankful for the opportunities that experience provided and the lifelong friendships that were created. My hope for my children is that they will one day be fortunate enough to experience a workplace that provides opportunities for the professional growth, character development, and friendship that working for the Webb’s did for me.”
Detective Sergeant John Hyman Baltimore County Police Department.
From 1981 until the late 1990’s the Fall was a special time of year while we prepared for two upcoming selling seasons. The first was apparent to all our customers, the selling of fall items, such as pumpkins, mums, bales of straw, cornstalks and handmade fall wreaths and table decorations. Meanwhile, behind the scenes, we were all busy creating our Christmas Wonderland. The love of Christmas was very evident at Webb’s, and not just by the Webb family but also the employees. Many employees would come back from college to help out during the season. They enjoyed being around all the beautifully decorated Christmas trees and seeing all the customers that returned year after year to choose the perfect tree to take home. Everyone was very dedicated to the season and put in very long hours, most working seven days a week. My grannie was there from the wee hours of the morning well into the evening creating the many wreaths, baskets, wall and table decorations that were sold. My mom spent many hours helping my Grannie with the decorations and making hand tied bows. I was told she was working the day before she gave birth to me and continued making hand tied bows from home after I was born. My Poppy’s favorite time of year was Christmas with Halloween following it as a very close second. He was very creative and was an intricate part of the design of the Christmas Shop. My Dad spent most of the time outside, putting up all the thousands of lights that were used to decorate our store. During the season, he spent most of the day outside selling live and cut trees and other greenery.
A career is something that we at Webb’s Water Gardens strive for with every employee we hire, and teamwork is the way we achieve this goal. In 1984 Thomas (Tripp) Welch started with Webb’s Water Gardens. Tripp worked a variety of positions around Webb’s including; the unloading of trucks, prepping bows during Christmas, even overcoming a fear of heights by relying on his teammates to support him. Tripp started to understand the importance of pulling his weight and importance of helping his team accomplish a common goal. The teamwork mentality and responsibilities established during his time at Webb’s is something he attributes to his position today, as an administrator at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester Minnesota. Working on a team that supports the Division of Infectious Diseases prevention and control, while also deploying CRM technologies and being heavily involved in patient experience activities. Teamwork and Leadership in the community is something Tripp strives for, having served as the board chair of the housing and redevelopment authority, and is currently on the board of the Rochester Youth Soccer Association. Thank you for the years of support Thomas!
In addition to selling produce my Dad started Webb’s Landscaping at the age of 19, beginning with smaller projects such as, plant installations and small patios. Another step in the expansion of our family business. Upon graduation from the University of Towson, our Landscape division started to expand and take on much larger projects including the addition of multiple crews lead by my Dad. As my Dad continued doing more and more pond installations it became clear this was his passion and we needed to expand our pond lines to also include pond plants and fish within our retail store. My Dad’s passion for projects that included ponds lead to the building of a working pond in our retail store. After completing the first display pond in 1988, the next step for the company became a no brainer. We could share our passion of ponds through our excellent customer service and quality craftsmanship.
"The look on our customer's faces when they saw their waterfall running for the first time made all of the hard work worthwhile." - Kevin Webb (My Dad)
After 15 years of renting it was time for Webb’s Water Gardens to invest in our first building and make a 4.3-mile move. Moving is never easy however moving a business is even more difficult especially with live fish and during our busy season. With some strategic planning and the help of family friends and employees we accomplished the goal over time. My sister and I were very young but still looked-for ways to be helpful by carrying what we could. It took a few weeks to completely finish the move as the tanks for fish and aquatic plants had to be built. We also had to move our trees, shrubs, perennials, plants, and all the hard goods. This move was only a few miles away from our previous location but it was no longer on a busy main road. This obstacle forced us into thinking differently and make necessary changes for our clients to find us.
After moving into our new retail location, we quickly realized how much work was still ahead. The first step was to determine the best layout of the property and draw plans to accomplish the many projects. Over the next 5-6 months we built thousands of square feet of walkways, installed 10 aquatic plant ponds, 2 greenhouses and 4 display ponds – the largest being 5’ deep and holding 13,000 gallons. By doing this we were able to show our customers what we were capable of designing and building.
In the fall of 1996, after finishing building our display ponds and going through the core part of the water gardening season we had to set our sights back on Christmas. This would be our first Christmas in our new location, and many things needed to be done. We were now in a smaller building, but had more land. This led my parents on trips to NC and PA for Christmas trees while my grannie took on a variety of tasks. Grannie helped create the wonderful reputation our store had when it came to Christmas and the new location was not going to be a letdown.
Being part of a family business provides many unexpected experiences. While preparing for the Christmas season my Mom had her first experience driving our dump truck. Her and my dad left in the early hours of the morning, riding together until just outside of the Christmas tree farm where they would pick up a rental truck, at this point my mom drove the dump truck while my dad drove the rental truck. My Mom's first experience driving the dump truck was up the mountain to the Christmas tree farm, her second was back down the mountain as it grew dark and snow began to fall. Mom and Dad knew they needed to get back even though it would take driving all night to make it to our store.
“It was scary but I knew I had no choice but to keep driving. We had to get all trees and greens back to our store.” - Maura Webb
Upon return from retrieving all the Christmas trees in NC and PA we had to start organizing the outdoor area of our store to accommodate the new inventory while still maintaining our current selection of fall and winter products. Every item had a place and everything had a purpose. The Christmas trees were staked into the ground individually, allowing our customers to walk around each tree to fully see how the beautiful trees might look in their homes. The outcome was the feeling of being in the forest, bringing an authentic feeling to a place where families could gather together and celebrate being a family. The number of families that took pictures at our location amazes me to this day and brought us closer to our community. In addition to the trees, we decorated the ponds and walk ways with lights to further the experience. While all of these actions were important for the outside of our location, the inside was being taken care of by my Poppy, Grannie and Mom. They were hard at work adding their personal touches decorating and ensuring the experience became a memory that would last a lifetime. It was important that each item had a personal feel, hand decorated wreaths with individual hand tied bows were a favorite. It took our entire staff, friends, and family working together to ensure that we provided the best possible Christmas experience to the customers who we loved and who expected it.
The year was 1992, and the season was Christmas. As everyone knew this was not a slow time of year for us but we were about to add 1 more Webb. My mom as seen below was pregnant with her second child and only son … me, Michael Colin Webb! I was born December 1st, 1992 and I am the youngest Webb. As a child and even today I spend a lot of time looking up, especially looking up to my parents and grandparents, admiring the success they had and continue to have with our family business. The work ethic that my parents have instilled in me is far superior than I could have dreamed and for that I am thankful. Qualities I learned from my parents are the same qualities that continue to drive our business forward, if it is being first to the office/job like my dad or the commitment of my mom working until she was ready to pop while pregnant with me! Today I look forward to working daily side by side with my parents hoping to keep up in many cases. Since the picture below I have done many things for the business including, managing the operation of our warehouse crew, unloading pond liner in all types of weather and ensuring our customers got just the right fish they were looking for. The most important part of the family business is family, not just our immediate family but our employees and customers too. During this time of year, we take the time to acknowledge and be thankful for family all while celebrating my birthday with the people closest to me.
My name is Ashley Webb and I was born June 27, 1991. When my mom gave birth to me she was a full-time teacher and I loved helping my dad. From helping with yard work to bringing the landscape crew snowballs on hot days at the job sites. Once I got older I went to school part time that way I could work for the business and understand the business better. I worked in the office and in the yard interacting with customers. After I graduated I became full time and worked mainly in just the office. Working with my family has helped me in the real world and I’ve enjoyed every moment of it.
Hello I am Maura Webb and my story began back in November of 1982 when I first met Kevin Webb. I first worked for the business the following Christmas season. As you have read in previous posts I did have a large part in helping with Christmas, even working up to Nov 30th and giving birth to our son on December 1. It is my favorite time of year and I always enjoyed the season even though the hours were very long. In the early years I wasn’t always a full time Webb’s employee. I did go to college and I became a kindergarten teacher. During those years I did still work at Webb’s after school, weekends and occasionally taking a day off from school when it was necessary. After many years of teaching full time it was determined that I was needed at the business more than just on weekends. So I gave up my full time teaching position and taught kindergarten in the morning and worked at Webb’s in the afternoon. Eventually I left my teaching career behind and joined the business full time. I have now been full time for 12 years. It hasn’t always been easy but I would do it all again if I had to. Working with my family every day is definitely the greatest reward.
My name is Kevin Webb and when I was in my teens I wanted to own a business with my dad. At the age of 14 every morning in the summer my dad and I would drive 4 hours round trip to the eastern shore and back to get corn to sell on the side of the road. That was the first business which developed into a garden center selling different plant material, fertilizers, mulch, potting soil, insecticides. From there we branched out into landscaping. Starting primarily with plantings, patios, and retaining walls. However once I tried my hand at installing ponds I knew that was my passion. In order for me to have the proper materials for my pond installations our garden center had to start stocking more variety of pond supplies. As the pond business grew we expanded to stocking live fish, plants including but not limited to hyacinths, parrot feather, lotus, duckweed. After many years of being in the landscaping business I realized that just selling the products was much more profitable for the business and the landscape installations came to an end. A few years after that we closed our retail doors and went to a strictly online business.
- Kevin Webb
Hi I’m Linda Webb and I’d like to share with you how exciting it was to be one of three family members to be lucky enough to start a business. My husband Joe and my son Kevin and I kept very busy taking care of shrubs, trees, water annuals, gradually we expanded to produce – floral arrangements – a Christmas center – and the best of all was water gardening. We met so many genuinely nice people. It’s been a great thrill to see the business, which is now owned and operated by my son Kevin and daughter in law Maura, expand to such a level.
- Linda Webb
Hi I'm Marianne, "I worked at Webb’s from the spring of 1997 thru the summer of 2001. I started my job as an outdoor garden center associate a few weeks before graduating from Fallston High School and remained a Webb’s employee all 4 years of my undergraduate education at Towson University. This was a transitional time for both myself and Webb’s Water Gardens the family business because it coincided with the business relocation from their Rt. 152 location a new retail location on Old Fallston Road.
I quickly learned that the Webb family valued and rewarded hard work and dependability. Many of my friends thought I was crazy working the required early mornings and long days when most people my age were working nights and weekends at restaurants or at the mall and staying up late. Fortunately, the Webb family was always very flexible with my college academic schedule and commitments.
I enjoyed the fresh air, sunshine, learning about aquatic plants and animals, and bonding with fellow employees during the warmer months and assisting with transitioning the property to a Christmas shop during the holidays. Looking back, the hours spent stringing lights on trees, and learning about nutcrackers introduced me to many new traditions. The decorations I acquired during my time at Webb’s still hang on my own family Christmas tree and I can wrap presents like a pro. Plus, the location was convenient enough for me to go home for lunch every day.
After five summers at Webb’s, I moved from the area to attend graduate school at the University of Maryland College Park. I am often thankful of the quiet times I spent in the greenhouses reflecting on my career choices as a young person. I credit that time to helping me pinpoint my career path in urban planning, which has been incredibly rewarding to me personally and professionally.
My professional career has included various economic development roles in local government in Baltimore City. I have been afforded the opportunity to serve two mayors directly and have worked with numerous small businesses as they grow and adapt to changing business cycles. What I remember most about my time at Webb’s was not only how hard the family worked, but also how they constantly evolved their business model and adopted new techniques to meet customer needs. From my perspective, they were continuously able to forecast trends, review their performance, make adjustments, and execute business decisions in response to changing market conditions and consumer behavior. Webb’s was an early adopter of e-commerce, electronic accounting software, and customer relationship management tracking. For instance, they capitalized on an opportunity to specialize in water gardens instead of staying stuck to old and highly competitive retail model selling annuals, perennials, and seasonal items like pumpkins and Christmas trees. It appears this business philosophy has stayed in tack over the years since the family business appears to have transitioned away from a retail location to serving their online customers more efficiently in a new setting and thru social media.
My time at Webb’s Water Gardens provided me with stability during my college years but also taught me lessons about hard work, adaption, and entrepreneurship…and a little about gardening too!" - Marianne Navarro
Follow us every Wednesday as we introduce you to the Webb's and the team that helped them grow.
Article Posted: 09/13/2017 12:11:18 PM