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A Family-Owned Business with Benefits | Warner's Nursery and Landscaping Case Study

A Family-Owned Business with Benefits | Warner's Nursery and Landscaping Case Study

October 17, 2023

No matter the season, Warner’s Nursery and Landscaping is a Flagstaff staple. But did you know that it actually began in Page? The family-owned and operated establishment has been going steady since 1970 but started up in Flagstaff in 1990. Warner’s Nursery & Landscape Co. has been family-owned and operated for three generations, and Marni Montague, a granddaughter of founders Bill Warner and Dottie Morgan, was kind enough to tell us a bit about how working with Benefit and Financial Strategies has impacted the team at Warner’s. Let’s get into it!

Let's Get to Know Marni Montague

What do you do for fun?

“I have dogs and spend a lot of time with them hiking. And I have a grandbaby, so I try to spend as much time with her as I can. I also love going for drives, jeeping.”

What about work is fun?

“I work with my sister and my brother-in-law, who is a really good friend of mine. So, I come to work with people that I love every day. All my coworkers are pretty awesome. I bring my dogs to work, and it's a beautiful, beautiful location to be at. So you know, if ever I get too wrapped up in my computer and accounting problems, I walk outside, and it's like, oh, nature Zen. Everything's beautiful.”

Whether professionally or personally, what is one thing you’re proud of that happened in the last 3 months?

“Well, this has nothing to do with our job, but my husband just retired from the airline after, like, 37 years. That's a big deal. I'm very excited about it and very proud of him.

Professionally, It's been a pretty phenomenal year for our store. Something pretty awesome about our little business is how we’re able to give back. Even in the slow years, we still have been able to contribute to the community like we always have.

We donate a lot of gifts, other items, and money to local organizations. We also have fundraiser days for nonprofits like the food bank, where a certain percentage of our daily sales goes directly to them. So I think that's a pretty big deal.

We always try to give a lot because the community gives so much to us.

Something our grandad, grandmother, and Uncle taught us is the value of taking care of the community and taking care of the people that work for us, because they're what make us successful.
So, everything we do is to make sure that they have work and that they enjoy being here and that they can succeed in their roles so amazing.”

What advice would you give yourself at age 18?

"Oh, my goodness. ‘Listen to your mother. She knows what she's saying.’

(Don't ever tell her I said that)... but, ‘Your mother's right!’ For that matter, ‘listen to your father, too’.

And, I think… ‘Don't sweat the small stuff so much. It really doesn't, that it's insignificant in the grand scheme of things. What matters is family. It comes down to family.’”

What’s your favorite season in Flag, and why?

“Mm, it's fall. Oh, definitely fall. I love the colors. I love that the temperatures are a little bit cooler but still warm enough to go out and hike and enjoy. But it's not so hot that we know you get wiped out fast. I love brisk mornings. I love that.”

Learn More About Warner’s Nursery and Landscaping

How long have you been in business?

“So, it's a tough one. Between 1970 and 1972, I think we started being a nursery in 1970. And we became a corporation in 72. So we're over 50 years old.”

How many employees do you have?

“At the moment, I believe 65. So that's it for retail, landscaping, maintenance, and administration. We have a couple of employees in Page; we still do maintenance there for some commercial properties and grandfathered properties there.”

How many years have you been able to offer benefits?

I think we've been offering benefits, really, from the get-go.

As far as the 401 K plan. I think we started… Geez, as long as I can remember. I was enrolled when I was working here in the late ‘90s. So, for at least as long as we've been in Flagstaff, we've been offering 401k. Health insurance was a little bit later.

We always offer our full-time people health insurance. Because we're considered a large employer by the new healthcare laws. So we offer health after a year of service for our seasonal employees.

What benefits do you currently offer to your employees?

“We have the 401K and health insurance. Outside of Benefit Financial Strategies, we do, you know, holidays and vacation time.

We also do the personal sick time that the state mandated, so we made two separate banks because we offer vacation to our full-time employees as well. And then we have our employee discount for purchasing at the store.”

“We're a really seasonal business, as you probably know. We have college students and high school students and come in every summer, we hire a bunch of people, and then obviously, there's not as much to do in the winter, so they go back to school or back home or whatever. So it works out well.

But so it's tough to offer benefits to that population because they're not really interested in health insurance because they're still on their parents' plan, and they don't think they're ever gonna get sick, and they're not thinking about retirement.

But we always try to encourage the ones that, you know, come back year after year that you know. Things that are valuable, like a 401 K plan. It's never too early to start thinking about your future and your retirement.”

The Value of Offering Benefits to Your Team

Why is it important to you to be able to offer benefits to your employees?

“I think it goes back to taking care of our employees. We really value them, so we want them to be successful, and it also helps you know, it's a tough business and helps us to attract people and quality people who care about that kind of thing.

So it's just part of the whole package of  being competitive as an employer and helping them be successful.” 

What does it mean to your employees to have benefits available?

“For the most part, they are really, really excited about it, and they do see the benefit. And you know, I have a couple of people right now who can't get 401k until they have a year of service. And they're anxiously awaiting that date to come because they really want to get signed up, and they're excited about it. 

They know that they want to be investing in their future. And then there are the younger ones that, you know, it's not on their radar yet, so we're just always kind of putting little things in their ear and having Brandy come by to talk about it, making them see the value of it.”

What was the greatest challenge of being able to offer benefits to your team?

“I would say the laws. With the new health care laws and the new sick time rules and stuff. It makes it hard to offer quality benefits to your long-term full-time employees when they're making these rules. It’s because of employers that don't provide anything  [in terms of benefits] and take advantage of their employees. We aren’t doing that. So it's tough to have to match that and also want to go one step above. 

Yeah, and just the amount of reporting for the Affordable Care Act that we have to do and all this. Oh, my goodness, it's ridiculous.” 

“[Even with these challenges]  It's definitely worthwhile. We're not going to stop doing it.” 

What do you love about working with Benefit & Financial Strategies?

“Billy [the owner of Benefit and Financial] has known our family… since my grandmother was around.  So we've known him our whole lives. He's a wonderful customer. He comes in all the time. 

Right now, I'm working with Brani for the 401k and Veronica for the health insurance, and I know I can pick up the phone and call them, and they're right there for me and help me through whatever problems we have or if an employee needs anything. They're always very, very helpful. 

I can't say enough about how important that is to a business like ours because, in the past. We were with a different provider for our 401k, and it was so impersonal. Employees had to call an 800 number to find out how to get their money out and just deal with it on our end. It was like it just didn't feel like we had any control over what was going on. And it's so much nicer to know that they have our back.” 

Written permission from the individual or entity providing the testimonial or endorsement; the client did not receive compensation.