Corso's Flower & Garden Center
Growing for over 80 years... quite literally.
In 2017, the Corso family celebrated 82 years in business.  Locally, many of us know the Corso's Flower & Garden Center as a favorite on US Route 250, but not many recognize the business dynamism behind the operation, including four Corso's divisions - retail, landscape, wholesale and transportation.
When August Corso first opened Corso Truck Farmers in 1935, he could not have imagined the national sales, 55 growing acres, 500 employees, and 40 daily semi-trucks that mark the company today.   Back then the operation utilized carts and wagons to transport produce from the family's Bogart Rd farm around the Sandusky area and up to Cleveland West Side Market.  It wasn't all smooth wagon driving for August though; in 1940 their Bogart farm was closed due to eminent domain, with the US government giving the family just six months to vacate their property.  (Local jeopardy - The Corsos' former land was utilized for creation of a TNT Plant which has since grown into the NASA Plumbrook facility!)
The 60 acres the Corsos relocated to on Milan Road has grown into today's HQ location.  The business evolved from vegetables to grain to pansies and mums and finally to greenhouses for floral and potted plant production.  Along the way several new businesses were born and continue to invest and advance today.
  • In the early 80's Corso's Landscape was created.  Demand then and demand today has the team consistently expanding their service area and adding additional crews for design, installation, mowing, fertilization and snow removal.
  • In 1987, the retail Flower Shop & Garden Center was built to accommodate customer demand for gardening gifts and Christmas items.  Recent developments have included modern greenhouse structures with comfortable open floor plans and environmental controls for heating, cooling, wind and rain in all four seasons.
  • The Corso's Wholesale &Transportation was the final business addition in the 1980s and remains a driver for the company today.  The company started by providing modest supplies to surrounding retail garden centers.  Today, the company supplies perennials to 320 big box stores in 11 states, 3 times a week.
Corso's 2017 progress and future vision rest on measured growth, understanding demand and responding with the development of high-quality products, services and selection.  In 2018, Corso's will sell over 11 million perennials.  New product lines, such as the 'Christmas Patio Pots' and the 'Miniatures', are taking off across the Midwest and will expand to shipping to 33 states and 737 new stores next year.
New 'miniatures' and Christmas 'patio pots' shipping across the US.
The company's success has fueled reinvestment in Erie County.  Over the last several years, area residents have witnessed the transformation of 70 acres of farmland on Bardshar Rd in Castalia to 70 acres of Corso growing facilities - fully automated greenhouses, trial gardens and planting lines.  Products and trial gardens have been sourced from unique varieties throughout Holland, Germany and London.  The expansion's required over $10 million dollars in capital investment, with another $2M planned for 2018 when the company will relocate its Rt 250 shipping facility to the Castalia location.  Improvements include:
  • A new 64,000 sq.ft. shipping facility with 10 docks.
  • New employee training and 'lean' systems that will increase shipping efficiency by at least 15%.
  • Expansion of greenhouse production by 21,000 sq.ft. plus 5 additional acres of outdoor growing space.
  • Process modernization through automation, robotics and material handling machines.  This Spring, Corso's will install one of the first robotic cutting sticking machines in the US.  The machine can stick 10,000 cuttings per hour with just one operator.
Expanded Castalia Corso's location.
Thank you to the Corso family, their innovators and supporters for driving 4 generations of progress in Erie County.  We look forward to what will be accomplished in the next 82 years.
August & Veronica Corso, 1945 & Today's Corso owners.
Abbey Bemis, Executive Director
For most family and closely held businesses, planning for succession is a tough and critical challenge.  Even though 88% of current family business owners believe the same family will control their business in five years, succession statistics undermine this belief.  According to t he Family Firm Institute, only 30% of family and businesses survive into the second generation, 12% are still viable into the third generation and only 3% of family businesses operate into the fourth generation or beyond. 

The good news? Succession transitions can  maximize opportunities and create a multi-generational institution that embodies a family's values and mission for generations to come. Corsos is the perfect example - Today 6 family members, representing 3rd and 4th generations own and operate the business!   The secret? Experts say a planning process that takes place over years and addresses ownership, management and leadership.  Succession is a conversation that happens every day when older generations mentor and younger generations learn what it takes.   Contact the ECEDC team if you're looking for support in taking your business to the next generation.

The 12 Days of Development email series recognizes and celebrates another year of progress in Erie County, Ohio.  Each day this week and next you will receive an email spotlight on a company investing, improving and innovating in our community. We can't capture it all, so let us know a neighbor we missed or what activities you've got planned to make the 2018 list!