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Rushford Village businesses bloom

By Kirsten Zoellner

Fri, Jan 25th, 2013
Posted in Rushford Village Features

When a long-time Rushford Village business, Jim’s Building Center, closed its doors in the spring of 2011, the town took an economic loss. Many wondered what business would occupy the facility in the future. Turns out, it is an odd couple- pairing of businesses, including one very inspired florist and an agricultural staple.

The large facility boasts three offices, a large storefront room, a back lumber area, and had a decidedly hardware-store feel. Not such a big deal for Brian Moran, who operates a Pioneer sales agency in the office areas of the building, but something of a drawback for a floral shop.

The entire store was scrubbed clean, updated, and given a country appearance by the new floral shop owners, Cindy and Doug Thesing. Cold steel walls were decorated with barn board. For added décor, tin taken from a demolished granary was put up along with a picket fence hung high above the sales counter. After adding lighting and displays, one might never guess the former use of the store.

Moran, who has worked with Pioneer for 20 years, and operates a second agency in Altura, was asked by the company to start another office in the Rushford community. Thesing on the other hand, has always dreamed of having her own floral business. “I thought about doing this for years and then the opportunity presented itself,” she beams. In August of 2012, Carol Ann Johnson, who operated Carol Ann’s Floral from her home, had announced she would be closing her doors. Thesing bought out her entire inventory and her clientele list and Root River Floral was born.

Despite the dissimilarities in their businesses, both Moran and Thesing have similar history and are vested in the community where their businesses are situated.

Moran was raised on a farm between Bratsberg and Highland townships. He owned a grain elevator in Altura for 12 years, worked on a large dairy for 18 years, where he was in charge of crop production and machinery maintenance, and has been an independent owner and operator for Pioneer for 20 years.

Likewise, Thesing grew up a farm near Wilson, where she and her husband still farm and milk 200 head of dairy cattle. She has worked in the floral industry for over a decade, a large portion of it in LaCrosse. When her two sons grew and graduated high school, she became weary of the commute and went back to wanting to work more locally.

Both businesses are quick to point out how instrumental the community has been for them. “We feel very graciously accepted by the Rushford community and are very glad to have made this move,” notes Moran.

“I’ve done business in the community for a long time. I like this community,” says Thesing. “They’ve been overwhelmingly nice to be, especially for an outsider,” she laughs.

The transition of not just two independent businesses, but two businesses sharing one space has been surprisingly smooth for the duo, and it’s meet or exceeded the expectations of both. “A local small town presence is an advantage for both the community and the company,” adds Moran. “Providing professional services locally allows the customer to have their needs met more efficiently.”

Thesing agrees. “It’s really came together and now I’m flying by the seat of my pants,” she laughs. Business has indeed been good. A Christmas open house received plenty of attention and has since kept her hopping.

In great news to for the city, both Pioneer and Root River Floral also foresee growth in their business.

Moran’s agency has plans to expand and improve its wide array of services, including Pioneer sales, warehouse and seed storage, seed delivery, pro-box & bulk seed options, weigh wagon services, crop production issue evaluations and scouting, Precision Planting, SLV inoculant applicator technician, silage burn down and moisture testing, and Pioneer custom FIT Mapping. Serving a customer base within a 25 mile radius of Rushford, the company employs three inlcuding local Gerrad Eide, a Pioneer Asscociate, and Kansas-raised Brooke Baker, a Pioneer custom FIT Mapping/FIT Studio service representative.

For Thesing’s shop, it’s going far beyond just flowers. She has already added giftware, which she says has been her biggest challenge. “I’m really trying to use as many local products as possible, whether from the community, area, or state, including lotions, chocolates, and candles. There are lots of new and fun things,” she enthuses. In addition, she hopes to host a second floral design class for the public, as well as hosting another open house this spring to highlight new spring and summer giftware.

Like any small businesses, simply getting the word out about your services is key. “We’re on Facebook and have a website, but I’m still figuring out the marketing aspect. My greatest fear is that people don’t know I’m here and what I can do,” she continues. “But I intend to stay here until I’m ready to retire.”

“We’re excited to be a partner to the community,” adds Moran. As in all beneficial community relationships of its citizens, businesses working in support of each other and in shared cooperation are a huge benefit to helping the economy of this small city area.

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