June 2020 - 42

5 MINUTES WITH ...
MINUTES
-WITH-
STEPHEN BARLOW
5
By Teresa McPherson
Stephen Barlow is the second-generation
owner of Barlow's in Sea Girt, New Jersey,
and an alumnus of GPN magazine's 40
Under 40 program.
Could you share a little about your background?
My parents started our business when I was 10, so I've
grown up in the industry my whole life. I started working
when I was about 12. I went to Michigan State University
to get a degree in horticulture, and then I went on to get a
master's in business from Monmouth University, and I've
been working ever since.
What is your biggest goal for the next year?
To find a way to reinvent my business for the new economy
[due to the coronavirus]. I think the economy is going to
change tremendously, so [I need to] find a way to reinvent
my business.
What do you love about your job?
I'll give you three reasons: 1. Growing plants from start
to finish. 2. I love working with the people I work with. 3. I
really enjoy putting smiles on customers' faces when they
have a full cart of beautiful flowers.
What keeps you up at night?
I'm usually a pretty good sleeper. But mostly labor
issues - trying to figure out how to get the job done in
42 | LAWN & GARDEN RETAILER | JUNE 2020
the springtime. How are we going to move all these plants
in such a short period of time with the staff that we have?
What advice would you give to someone just
starting out in horticulture?
First and foremost, people need to know if they want
to be in this industry they have to work hard. You have to
have a tremendous amount of work ethic if you're going to
succeed in the horticulture industry. It's not a desk job. It's
a job. It's a labor of love and you can have a really, really
nice career and make a good buck for yourself, but you
have to understand that it's not a Monday-through-Friday
job, it's not a 9-to-5 job. You have to get some dirt under
your fingernails. You will be successful if you work hard. If
you work hard in this industry, I strongly feel you will be
successful.
What do you enjoy doing in your spare time?
Spending time with my family, by far. And coaching
my kids' basketball and baseball teams, and going to the
beach with my family. We're fortunate; we live about a
mile from the ocean.
Favorite plant to grow? Why?
Primroses, because they're the first sign of spring. We
plant them in November and we watch them grow, and
then all of a sudden come January they're starting to show
a pop of color. When the days are short and dark, you can
walk into the primrose greenhouse and see they're starting
to pop their heads out.

June 2020

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