Business Q & A

5 questions with Scott Wise, vice president, Gard'n Wise Distributors

Scott Wise probably knows as much about lawn and garden products as one person can know.

Wise is vice president of Gard'n Wise Distributors, a lawn and garden product wholesaler at 1515 E. 29th St. North. He started in the business, developed by his father, Robert, when he learned to drive.

Today the company has locations in Wichita, where it was founded, Denver, Salt Lake City and Lubbock, Texas.

Wise, 54, is married to Jennifer and they have two children, one at Kansas State and the other at Andover High School.

Do people stop gardening in a recession?

"In tougher times our business doesn't suffer as much because people do spend more time around their homes. Maybe they aren't taking as many fancy vacations and instead they spend a little extra money on maintaining their home and the landscaping."

Does that means the business is bulletproof?

"A lot of it has to do with what Mother Nature gives us.... In our business, we want a little rain on Tuesdays and Wednesdays and beautiful the rest of the time... so people can get out in their yards and plant their annuals, perennials or whatever."

Organic is a big movement in gardening, but you say the market for it is actually pretty limited. Why?

"The reality is people say they want to use them, but when it comes down to it, they're going to use something that works and works fast. And the organics tend to work a little slower, and they are more expensive. They may work over time or they may take more applications."

If you're so busy in the spring, who keeps your yard looking nice?

"My wife plants — oh, last year she did 28 containers of various sizes, and she does a really good job at it. She likes it; it's therapy. That's what's nice about our industry — in tougher times, there is a core group of people out there that like to spend time out in their yards, like to plant, they like to get pretty color in the spring. There are people who are just waiting for the weather to warm so they can go to the garden center.... It's their getaway."

What's something few people know about you?

"This is only the second job I've ever had. My first was at The Wichita Eagle, but I've been doing this ever since I could drive, helping out after school in the warehouse, driving trucks, doing delivery. It wasn't a grand plan to do this for a living, but I just grew into it."