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Meet Bob Kolze of Kolzes Corner Gardens

Today we’d like to introduce you to Bob Kolze.

Bob, let’s start with your story. We’d love to hear how you got started and how the journey has been so far.
Started as a road side vegetable stand in 1949. My dad was 10 years old; he was selling lilac bouquets, corn and tomatoes. The Kolzes were known for growing and selling fresh produce in the 50’s through the early 80’s. Starter plants like tomatoes, peppers and geraniums where a small part of our family’s seasonal business during those years… During the late 70’s, we saw a shift in demand from fresh produce to bedding plants…

My parents, Bob and Pat Kolze started selling vegetable and flowering plants in the spring of 1969. I was 8 years old and enjoyed the growing and selling of bedding plants

I eventually went to college at Northern Illinois University and received a degree in marketing. My dad and I became partners in 1983 upon graduation. The business was bedding plants, fresh vegetables, pumpkins, and Christmas trees. The original property and business in Palatine was just 1.7 acres… As the business grew, the parking and facilities where too small. In 1987, I saw an ad in the local paper offering 30 acres in Woodstock. It was just a rolling cornfield without any utilities when we made the purchase.

The process of planning and building the greenhouse operation spanned from 1988 to 1995. Kolzes was closed in Palatine on December 24, 1996. Our 1st day open at the Woodstock location was April 17 1997.

Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
No, not at all. We had moved 25 miles away and the customer profile was different from what we were accustomed to. I thought part of the customer base we had established in Palatine would follow us.

Maybe we kept 10% at the time, hard to say. The new facility and greenhouse had all kinds of glitches to be fixed. Troubleshooting the new gadgets created anxiety and despair at times. When we 1st opened that April and May of 1997, I felt like my “balloon had popped”. Some days, it was a ghost town on the most beautiful days of Spring when we should have been wheeling this stuff out the door.

Please tell us about Kolzes Corner Gardens.
Kolzes grows all types of hanging baskets, specialty annuals and perennials. We produce 90% of the products we sell. Our team starts planting in late February and the doors open about April 10th.

We are known for the sea of color that is produced each year. We are a welcome destination after the people in Chicagoland have endured the past winter.

I’m proud to say that our greenhouse and staff can bring happiness and joy to new and existing customers just by steeping inside. My best compliment is from a customer that had a bad day at work… and decided a trip to Kolzes was the remedy.

What sets us apart is most likely “the vibe” you get once inside the door; the employees are charismatic and happy. The crops color is stunning, it’s a beautiful indoor greenhouse that is 24,000 square feet. 5,000 hanging baskets are stacked to the ceiling.

Do you look back particularly fondly on any memories from childhood?
Working with my family selling spring plants and Christmas trees.

Contact Info:

  • Address: KolzesCornerGardens Inc
    12717 IL route 176
    Woodstock, IL 60098
  • Website: KolzesCornerGardens.com
  • Phone: 815-338-1475
  • Email: bob.kolze@gmail.com

Getting in touch: VoyageChicago is built on recommendations from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you know someone who deserves recognition please let us know here.

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