THOMASVILLE — After 36 years in business, NeSmith's Nursery will be no more after Saturday.
"That will be our last day," owner Mark NeSmith said.
NeSmith, equipped with a farming background, opened the nursery in 1984, while working in sales at Industrial Boiler.
His uncle, the late James NeSmith, owned a nursery on Thomasville Road in Tallahassee, Florida, and was about to retire. Mark NeSmith asked his uncle for advice on opening a nursery on Dillon Road family property.
James NeSmith told his nephew he would give him a greenhouse if he would help dismantle two wooden greenhouses at the Tallahassee business.
"That's how I got started," NeSmith said.
In 1992, NeSmith left Industrial Boiler and "with a leap of faith" entered the nursery business full time.
In the beginning, the nursery sold to wholesale and retail customers.
"Eventually, we went to just retail and landscaping," NeSmith said.
He opened a nursery in Moultrie in 1996. It closed three years ago.
NeSmith expressed appreciation to nursery employees through the years.
Karen Crosby, garden center manager, worked at the business for 31 years.
"The business would not be where it is today without her assistance," NeSmith said. "You could not ask for a more dedicated employee."
Customers gravitated to Crosby, NeSmith said, adding that Crosby, who is retiring, operated the business like it was her own.
"She was that kind employee," NeSmith said.
The business has nine employees, including NeSmith and his wife, Melany. The couple's home, built in the early 1980s, is adjacent to the nursery.
NeSmith, 64, decided at the end of 2018 to retire. He wants to spend more time with his six grandchildren, play golf and do more missionary work. A member of Moultrie Road Church of Christ, NeSmith has done missionary work in Africa and in Central America.
"The Lord has blessed me well," he said. "The community has been very supportive."
NeSmith, a Thomas County commissioner, said he has formed relationships that probably would not exist were it not for the business.
He said community support has allowed his family to have the quality of life they do.
"I want to give back to the community, because they've been good to me," NeSmith said.
Plants require a lot of care.
"You have to love it," NeSmith said.
He never dreaded Monday morning.
"I loved it that much," NeSmith said.
Senior reporter Patti Dozier can be reached at (229) 226-2400, ext. 1820