Dom’s Garden Center

DANBURY, CONNECTICUT, COMPANY CONTINUES TO ADAPT TO MEET CUSTOMER EXPECTATIONS

Jul 31, 2009

Komatsu wheel loaders move materials faster

With more than 30 years in business behind him, you might think Dominic Generali would be set in his ways. But constant adaptation to changing markets has kept Generali moving landscaping and other materials from Dom’s Garden Center since the early 1970s.

“A common perception about a garden center is that we stock the same flowers, shrubs and trees every year,” said Generali, who founded Dom’s Garden Center along with his father, who’s also named Dominic. “There is some commonality year to year, but customers want to see something new as well. We take that into account and listen to what they tell us in order to build a supply of materials we believe customers want.”

Helping Dominic accomplish that goal are his brother Gary, who’s a partner in the business, and another brother Jeff, who’s Yard Manager. Adapting to customer needs has helped the family build a broad array of products on four and a half acres of land in Danbury, Conn.

“Early on, we focused mostly on annual flowers and a few garden supplies, such as shovels, fertilizers and odds and ends that someone would need for basic gardening work,” said Dominic. “The customer base was relatively small with an emphasis on homeowners. That’s still a sizeable percentage of our business, but we’ve expanded well beyond our initial efforts.”

Experience and expertise

In addition to more homeowner-oriented materials, expansion has seen Dom’s Garden Center become a wholesale distributor of bulk items. The business stocks several types of mulch, topsoil and stone that are used by homeowners as well as landscaping and other types of contractors within about a 30-mile radius of Danbury. Customers can pick up bulk materials on site, or Dom’s will deliver with one of its trucks, a service added as the business grew.

Dom’s Garden Center has grown in other ways as well. While spring and early summer remain its busiest time, Dom’s has seen a marked uptick in the amount of business it does during the fall and winter months. The Generalis carry sand and salt for the winter months and such items as poinsettias, trees and wreaths at Christmastime.

Additional work includes street and parking lot sweeping for area customers year-round, as well as contract material hauling.

“Being diversified really pays off,” noted Dominic. “Plus, we’re willing to take a chance on selling items that other businesses like ours may not want to carry. For instance, we’ve sold Weber grills for quite a few years. Times change and we have to change with them.”

What hasn’t changed since day one at Dom’s Garden Center is a focus on customer service, something Dominic firmly believes has been the root of the company’s success. He, his brothers and father, and a staff of eight to 10 constantly emphasize it.

“There are a lot of big-box stores out there where shoppers can find the basics, but often those businesses don’t have the expertise and experience that we offer on how best to select and nurture the plants and flowers,” explained Dominic. “We have our own nursery here, so we’re well aware of what it takes to grow and care for the items we sell. Customers can also turn to us for answers on such questions as how and when to plant and how to care for their lawns. Those stores carry bagged materials, whereas we can supply larger quantities, often at a better price. We deliver too, so we’re more of a one-stop shop. That sets us apart.”

Komatsu wheel loaders move materials faster

With a growing volume of materials coming in and going out through the years, the Generalis have continued to add equipment to expedite the process. In the past decade, they’ve counted on Komatsu wheel loaders to move those materials efficiently. After an initial purchase of a WA95-3, they added a WA250-6 parallel tool carrier and a WA80-5.

“We compared competitive brands as we were looking for new loaders, and the Komatsus really stood out,” cited Dominic. “As we were comparing brands, we noticed the Komatsu loaders had more power but, at the same time, were more comfortable. Those types of factors lead to better production from the machine and the operator. The contractors around this area who use Komatsu equipment had very favorable comments about the machines they use. That factored into our decision making.

“The WA250 offers a big benefit in its versatility,” he added. “It allows us one machine for multiple applications. We get our stone-material supplies in various forms. Gravel comes in dump trucks, whereas decorative field stone comes in on pallets. In the past, we’ve had forklifts and loaders, but with the WA250 we get both in one. It’s equipped with a quick coupler, so within seconds we can switch from a bucket to forks. If we were to do that with our old loaders, it would take a considerable amount of time to drive pins in and out to make the switch. Plus, we can use it to push up stockpiles or to quickly load an outbound truck.”

For smaller loads, Dom’s turns to the WA80-5.

“Many of the loads we send out are only a yard or two, so that machine comes in handy for getting those out in a hurry,” Dominic said. “It’s a nice machine that fits our needs very well.”

Dominic said working with Edward Ehrbar Inc. fits Dom’s Garden Center’s needs well too. “Our sales rep did a great job of understanding our needs and matching us up to the right machines. We also rely on Ehrbar for service work as needed, and it’s very convenient that they have a location right here in Danbury. They get to us quickly, and they have parts on hand when we need them. They understand the value of customer service, and that’s something we really appreciate.”

Continued customer satisfaction

The Generalis appreciate good customer service because they understand how important it is in their business as well. They continually listen to customers’ needs and work to fulfill them. Dominic noted that they’re looking to expand by adding bins for additional bulk material offerings as part of future expansion possibilities.

“We understand the times are not great right now in our industry, but they’re going to get better like they always have,” Dominic observed. “What we have to do is continue to understand the customers and the trends in the market. We believe as long as we work hard and keep a variety of materials on hand, there will always be a call for our products and services. It’s a basic, fundamental belief that’s served us well.”