This type of work – the horticulture industry – is a big part of Mississippi’s overall agriculture revenue. Horticulture’s commodities account for some $114 million annually. Willie and Glynda Rivers became a part of the state’s horticulture arena when they moved with their four children to Rankin County from Dothan, Ala., in 1979. They soon started a small nursery business and eventually built their first greenhouse. Within seven or eight years, they had an established wholesale operation and around 16 greenhouses. A retail mart was added in 1987.
Though two of the Rivers’ children went on to other careers, Bill and Joy developed their interests in the business at a young age and carried it through to adulthood. “A lot of our time was helping them get the business started – planting, loading, watering, doing the office work,” Faulkner says. “I helped keep part of the books. I just enjoy the outdoors, and watching things grow was really fascinating for me, so I felt like that was what God was calling me to do.” For his part, Rivers says he had more of “a passion for construction, production and customers,” adding that the business does all its own building, maintenance, electricity, plumbing and the like. Most importantly, he takes to heart what his dad insisted was the key to success.
“Daddy’s motto was customer first, growing plants second and the rest would fall into place,” Rivers says. “We’re customer-oriented people, and that goes a long way.”