From Long Island’s Best Kept Secret to Tristate Area’s Powerhouse Wholesale and Retail Landscape Distribution Center
The Garden Dept. Looks to Expand and Bring Jobs to Long Island as Company Projects Record-Breaking Sales in 2017
Having gotten its start as a small, family-run, garden distribution center in Coram, New York, The Garden Dept., continues to grow and expand under Don Caroleo, who took the reins from his father in 2002. In the 15 years since the third-generation owner assumed his leadership role, he has grown the company to nearly 100 employees, opened a second location in Dix Hills and expanded the fleet of trucks from six to eighteen. With current projections showing that 2017 will be The Garden Dept.’s most profitable year yet, Mr. Caroleo has big plans in store that will not only grow his business, but will bring even more jobs to Long Island and other New York suburbs.
First on the agenda is the addition of even more distribution centers. “I want to add a location on Long Island’s East End, where many of our landscape clients are based and work,” says Mr. Caroleo. “I’ve also found a lot of potential further west into Nassau County and in Westchester County and Connecticut, where we hope to expand in the very near future.”
A Long Island native, Mr. Caroleo knows that continuing to stimulate the area’s economy is one of the best ways to reduce the continued effects of younger populations moving to regions with lower costs of living. “I always wanted to expand the business, but I knew this would be a major undertaking,” he adds. “Now that the economy has recovered from the depths of the recession, home sales have improved and people are engaging in home improvements, including extensive landscaping. Based on current orders, 2017 will be very busy, and we plan to turn our profits into further growth for the local job market. We’re hopeful that this will help keep our talented youth here on Long Island.”
This could not ring more loudly for Mr. Caroleo, who stepped in to lead The Garden Dept. while he was still in High School, after his father was hospitalized and unable to work. “There was no way I was going to allow the business to falter, which at that time had been in operation for over 40 years, so I had to get behind the wheel, so to speak,” he explains. “It was toward the end of High School and my friends were all talking about going to college or just hanging out, but I knew I didn’t have that option.”
Though he faced many challenges when he assumed his father’s role at The Garden Dept., the overall transition was easy as he’d been around the business since he was eight years old. “Every day, after school, I would join my dad (Vic Caroleo) to help with various tasks around the facility, which helped me develop a strong work ethic,” continues Mr. Caroleo. “As I got older, I learned more and more about the company. I learned about different plant materials, loaded mulch and helped deliver products to customers. It was a very eye-opening experience for me. Once I took over the reins, I quickly learned that running a successful business also meant being able to multitask, keep customers happy and take risks.”
While filling in for his father, Mr. Caroleo decided to open the company’s eight-acre wholesale distribution center in Dix Hills. “My father’s health started to improve around that time, so, as the facility was starting to take shape, I turned to him for guidance and advice,” adds Mr. Caroleo. “After a while, he saw how well I was running the company, so he officially retired and left me in charge of day-to-day operations.”
Today, the third-generation garden distribution center owner has never been more optimistic about the state of the company. “Even though there wasn’t a lot of physical landscaping taking place last month, we were continually taking orders for projects – we just weren’t able to ship them,” explains Mr. Caroleo. “Now that the weather has improved, we’re in a non-stop rotation of filling and shipping those standing orders. We’ve also seen a rush of landscapers and consumers coming in for materials and supplies to help them catch up on their spring cleanup and gardening work. We are already well on our way to breaking records of past years.”
The Garden Dept.’s 16-acre Coram retail/wholesale location is open seven days per week and its eight-acre Dix Hills wholesale location is open Monday to Saturday. Both locations provide deliveries to homes and job sites throughout the tristate area for items such as trees, shrubs, plants and decorative stone, as well as gravel, compost, topsoil and mulch by the yard. For assistance with your landscape or gardening needs, contact The Garden Dept. at 631-736-DEPT (3378) or visit online at: gardendept.com.