The Garden Factory

Brining a touch of green to homes and businesses across upstate New York
Written by: 
Matt Dodge
Produced by: 
Dana Merk-Wynne

Originally founded as Kodisch’s Garden Center in 1974, The Garden Factory has been a fixture in the Rochester, New York, area for more than 40 years. First purchased by Robert and Patricia Martell, the 5-acre lot has grown to encompass 36 acres located just 7 miles west of downtown Rochester.

The full-service garden center offers a full-slate of products to help accent any home or business with a touch of green, including flowers and vegetables, trees, shrubs and seasonal items. Primarily a retail operation, The Garden Factory does venture into the wholesale market for landscapers and garden experts.

The Garden Factory

The Garden Factory also offers lawn care products such as sod, grass seed and fertilizer. Outdoor living goods include: patio furniture, grills and smokers, pottery, indoor/outdoor decor and landscaping materials such as bagged and bulk mulch and compost, boulders, patio and wall stones.

A family-owned and -operated company since its inception, The Garden Factory was passed down from Robert and Patricia to their children, who have transformed the business into one of the largest garden centers on the East Coast. 

“They’ve expanded the store space and what we offer,” says Ryan Martell, director of sales and marketing at The Garden Factory and a member of the third Martell generation to work in the family business.

A growing inventory

The Martells make an effort to introduce a range of new products each season while continuing to carry a roster of time-tested favorites. The company offers a range of houseplants, annuals, perennials, hanging baskets, herbs and bulbs as well as berries, roses, climbing vines, ground covers and fruit trees. 

“We always have new products coming in. We try to mix things up every year and offer new types and varieties of different plants each season,” says Martell. The Garden Factory also recently introduced a new landscaping design and installation service as well as their Kreation Station, where in-house experts create custom combination planters tailored to a customer’s individual needs. 

“People can go there and we have someone work with them to help them pick out plants that will work for them. Gardening can be intimidating, but this helps,” he says.

Sowing the seeds of the future

As the family business continues to grow, the Martells are looking to keep up with the times with an ever-expanding slate of products and services. Having launched a new website in recent months, The Garden Factory is making a concerted push into the world of online retail, an unprecedented effort that requires no small amount of innovation.

“We’re going to be one of the first garden centers in the country with the entire current live inventory. We’re also going to be shipping things that have never been shipped before, which is a huge process, but the web presence is really the next stage in how to grow the business,” says Martell.

The mom-and-pop nature of garden centers like The Garden Factory can make adapting to new technology a challenge, but with the younger generation of family members joining the family business, innovation is quickly catching up with tradition. “It’s been a hard industry for technology, but the question is: how you shed that?” asks Martell.

While The Garden Factory has a strong market presence within an hour radius of Rochester, the online portal will allow the company to expand its reach almost exponentially. “People are always calling us with a lot of interest in these different types of areas other people weren’t offering,” he says.

The online store will also allow the company to reach a new, more technologically savvy sector of the consumer base who is more accustomed to turning to the internet for their retail needs. “It will help us reach out to millennials where gardening isn’t really a thing. They can see the whole inventory online and we’ll offer in-store pickup, blogs and DIY projects,” says Martell.

In another bid for modernization, The Garden Factory also adopted a new point of sale (POS) system four years ago that allows the company to track inventory in real time. “That’s been challenging, but we’re finally getting around to having a solid number and being able to confidently say what we have,” he says.

At just 22, Martell represents the next generation of family ownership at The Garden Factory. Working at the family business since he was 14, Martell earned a degree in accounting before returning to help The Garden Factory prepare for the future. He joined the team full-time four years ago to assist the company in setting up the new POS system and serves myriad functions including overseeing aspects of sales and marketing as well as helping to design and manage the new website.

With a new generation ready to continue a proud family tradition through an increased focus on technology and the targeting of a younger customer base, The Garden Factory will continue to lead the Rochester market as a premier supplier of lawn and garden products and services. 

Strategic Partnership(s): 
Farm & Family Insurance
Medford Nursery