Family Business Bucks the Trend

Fact is, 2008 was a challenging year for many businesses. It was the start of the Great Recession, ignited by the crashing housing market and a perfect storm of other factors that made it difficult for businesses to get by. Growth wasn’t exactly an option for everyone.

But for George and Cathy Vogt, 2008 was the year their small family business got bigger. Much bigger.

It was that year they took George’s Market and Nursery from a roadside stand on Route 7 in Latham, NY, to an 11,000-square foot garden center. It’s business firmly rooted in the community that helped sustain it since the 1950s, George’s Market was ready to add more products and services for its loyal customers.

“It was a very scary economy to go into a new business during the recession,” George said. “Plus, we’re closed during January and February each year, and it can be tough with that kind of seasonality. Still, Community Bank really talked us off the ledge and kept us on track.”

That year, the Vogt’s sold their original location to the New York State Police for $8 million. The sale—along with guidance from Community Bank, N.A.—gave them what they needed to finance a new 11,000-square-foot garden center. Scaling up came with its concerns, but George and Cathy found confidence in Community Bank’s support. Working alongside their attorney and accountant to make sure it was the right deal for their business, Community Bank made sure the dollars made sense.

It’s a true hometown bank. When we call with an issue or question, they pick up the phone, and we talk through it until we all feel comfortable about it. It makes us feel important.”

Even with the faltering economy, George’s Market was able to thrive thanks to the personal relationships that had been established over the years. The Vogt’s donate generously year after year to various community events and groups, and the community has responded in kind with loyalty rather than turning to big-box options. Cathy sees Community Bank carry a similar commitment to community and admits it’s a major reason why she likes working with them.

“It’s a true hometown bank,” she said. “When we call with an issue or question, they pick up the phone, and we talk through it until we all feel comfortable about it. It makes us feel important.”

Business went so well, that the Vogt’s opened up a second location in 2014 called George’s Market & Café—a boutique shop just seven miles down the road. Today, they employ more than 40 people and their two children have taken on leadership roles in the company. Their daughter, Lauren, owns and runs the new store, while their son, George Jr., runs the landscaping side of the business. The family’s obvious passion for maintaining the values that got them this far is another reason customers come back year after year.