It may have taken a few years after first asking “How about it?” but Ben and Tim Stover got their answer from Steve Solario June 15, when they signed paperwork making them the new owners of Conley’s Garden Center and Landscaping.
Conversations between the brothers led to Ben visiting Solario’s office about four years ago to ask if there was any interest in selling. “We had always talked about working together with Conley’s,” Tim said. The Stover brothers explained, Conley’s seemed like a good fit with their SBLC Landscaping business they started in 2011. The businesses provide similar services and, in addition to landscaping, SBLC provides hardscape, masonry and tree services. Both Ben and Tim are licensed arborists.
Solario told the Boothbay Register he gave the question a good deal of thought, thinking he might continue to head Conley’s for years to come, but as Ben spoke with him over the years, “I liked the cut of his jib.”
Solario got Conley’s in 1997. Now 78, he said he could have sold the business to others, but felt the Stover brothers were “appropriate” because they were in the landscaping business and had an advantage as a result.
“You’d like to see it picked up by someone who will do a good job,” he said. “They’re smart guys and they’re experienced.”
The brothers said they have no intention of changing staff at either of the businesses, each of which has about 10 employees, so customers will still see the same faces. Solario and the Stover brothers are grateful for their employees’ loyalty; many have been with them for years.
“Everyone’s staying,” said Ben. And there is no current plan to merge the businesses. Instead, Conley’s and SBLC will remain distinct entities. “It’s very important that we continue to provide the same high quality service that customers expect,” Tim explained.
“People who come to Conley’s get a benefit they can’t get from a big box store, because small garden centers have the knowledge to help customers,” Ben said.
“And if we don’t, we’ll find out,” Tim added.
Solario will act as a consultant until the end of the season. When Tim and Ben were asked what they might want Conley’s to offer in the future, a horticulture program for local students was the response as well as making it more of a year-round business.
The brothers are grateful for the positive response and support the purchase has received from the community. They also lauded their SBLC crew. “They helped us get here,” Ben said. Attorney Melissa Whitt and Dan Hallinan of the First National Bank were also mentioned with gratitude.
Ben and Tim Stover were born and raised on the peninsula, graduated from Boothbay Region High School and live in Boothbay.
“Conley’s has been a business in town for 70 years,” Ben said. “The opportunity to be able to continue that name for potentially 100 years is exceptional. And it’s a good way to establish a family business for future generations.”