If the waning days of summer have you feeling down, take heart. You can bring the outdoors inside with lush, green — and even flowering — plants to enjoy all year round. The Plant Professionals, Inc. can deliver and help maintain that interior plantscape for years to come. Kathy Valentine, President of The Plant Professionals, Inc., has taken her passion for “putting plants and people together in ways that benefit people” and grown a successful business throughout the past few decades. The business is currently located in a 8,400-square-foot facility spread across two buildings in DeWitt Township. Valentine interviewed the previous owner while doing an independent study during her senior year at MSU and was hired shortly after graduation. At that time, it was called The Plant Therapist of Lansing and specialized in purchasing, placing and caring for tropical plants for interior use. Valentine went from being a part-time horticulture technician to a partner and then sole owner of The Plant Professionals in 1987. Although these tropical plants are still at the heart of the business, Valentine has expanded her services significantly to include design and delivery of fresh floral arrangements and potted foliage to accommodate her growing list of customers year-round. Not only is the greenery thriving, her business is too. Today, The Plant Professionals call Playmakers, Jackson National Life Insurance, both hospital systems in the Lansing area, many area law firms and, more than 15 departments at MSU among their 500 corporate, retail, institutional and residential clients. As their services and customers increased, so has her need for a large space. The company has moved five times, most recently settling into their current location that Valentine owns. The large facility has a substantial shipping dock, and areas to display nursery materials like large trees, palms and other tropical foliage. It also houses designing areas and storage facilities. While plant life is dormant outside, the expert staff doesn’t stop. The Plant Professionals are busy creating holiday wreaths, garlands, poinsettias and Christmas trees. “Christmas is my favorite time of year,” said Valentine. While it’s dreary and cold outside, she said, she can step inside her company to the bright, warm and beautiful winter plants like poinsettias and other festive greenery. When the holidays are over, their facility has ample room to store these holiday decorations for customers until next year. When the weather breaks in the spring, customers can call on The Plant Professionals to design and plant landscapes outdoors, too. The company keeps busy all year providing arrangements for weddings, commencements and other special occasions. “I’ve got the best job in the world,” she said. It’s fun to interact with customers during happy events like holidays and nuptials, she said, or to consult on plantscape décors for offices or residents. She also surrounds herself with more than 20 gifted and talented technicians and support staff who care for plants and their customers. Valentine said that the job allows her to keep learning new things about flowers and plants and running a business. “I have a great enthusiasm for plants and for people,” she said. One of the lessons Valentine has learned is that building a successful business means building strong relationships. She’s developed solid relationships not only with her staff and customers, but also many business owners throughout the area. For her efforts, Valentine has been rewarded with much local recognition, and is a frequent recipient of industry awards. She currently serves on the 2013 ATHENA Powerlink Governing Board, an advisory panel made up of lawyers, bankers, accountants, insurance agents and business advisors that mentor select women business owners. Valentine has been on the receiving end of the Athena Powerlink program, too. It was one of many influences that has helped her business grow. Ann Cool, MPS, is a freelance writer who lives in Mason with her husband Bob.
Ann Cool, MPS, is a freelance writer who lives in Mason with her husband Bob.