(Here is the story of the Elrod Garden Center, as presented at Thursday night's 53rd Annual Celebration.)
Sam and Danita got married in 1982 and though they were working normal jobs, they would spend their evenings outside working on their yard and their garden. For most holidays, Danita would buy Sam gift cards to one of the big chain landscape supply stores and they would dream of building their own business.
Elrod Garden Center opened on September 1, 1988. Sam was still working another job and Danita did the paperwork from home while she was raising their children, who were 2 and 3 at that point.
Before Sam devoted himself full-time to the garden center in 2002 after 26 years in the printing industry, Sam's father Lester and sister Melinda were in charge of much of the day-to-day operations. They moved to a bigger location in May 2005 and opened their own greenhouse facilities in 2007.
They now cater to a variety of customers, including commercial landscaping companies, retailers, and individual gardeners. Most of their plants are grown locally, already acclimated to the local ecosystem. They sell feed, beekeeping equipment, and propane, among many other things. Elrod Garden Center also partners with the county extension service to support the local farmer's market in Dallas.
In addition to the business, Sam and Danita are very active in the community. Sam is a former president of the Paulding Rotary Club. With a lot of help from Danita, Sam directs much of the Dallas Christmas parade and is part of their annual scholarship committee. Sam is on the WellStar Paulding Community Board and also heads up the "Paulding is Blooming" project, planting wildflowers in our county's medians.
Elrod Garden Center is always one of the first companies to step forward and assist with any non-profit event or fundraiser.
Sam is a 2012 Leadership Paulding graduate and Danita is active in the current LP 24 class.