Sunday, February 10, 2013

# 401 - Shades of Texas - Tour - Part 1

Shades of Texas is a local nursery and landscaping business down the road; it is a comprehensive gardening center that I've highlighted in my blog for a long time. We shop there, frequently.

Every time we are there to buy crushed granite, pebbles, mulch or some of the most beautiful plants I've ever seen, I am in the midst of creative-greatness without having to be stuck inside a gigantic cold, corporate setting. This garden center is large enough to operate on a large scale, yet small enough to provide above-and-beyond personal service to their customers. It embraces home-town goodness while being able to meet the demands of large-scale corporate needs.

Since I am particularly drawn to this garden center for our own landscaping supplies, I am often standing in their structure designed to serve as their business office and it is like being in a nicely built custom country home. I wanted to learn more about the construction of their office building, so I decided to call the owner and see if he sells architectural plans for his building. He had a better idea...come on out and get a closer look. The owner then generously offered to answer our construction questions during a personal tour.

I felt honored to be given such an in-depth tour and to be inspired by the owner, Jon Mathews. This garden center has been a staple of our community, making our homes and our neighboring cities more beautiful, and I could see that the owner's personality matches his business...he is firmly rooted in his need to strive for excellence and growth.

This past year, at least, I've blogged a few times about the main building that handles customer business operations. This building is awesome. I'd love to have it on my property for our cabin; I can picture a place similar to this, sitting among the shade of the trees on our acreage.

Shades of Texas - Nursery & Landscaping

There's no doubt, when I go to this garden center and walk into their office to place a big order and pay for our landscaping materials, it feels like I am in a building that could easily feel like "home" on our land.

Jon Mathews, I believe, sketched out this building on a scrap piece or paper or a napkin. He's done that several times, for several of his structures. This is a man of vision.

Jon Mathews, Owner & Operator of
Shades of Texas

Inside the main building for business operations, you can feel the breeze come through the opened doors, and the high ceilings make the place feel much larger than the approximately 1,000 square feet that it really is. For Texas, this is quite an amazing feat.

In the South, we might be able to construct more square footage for less than other part of the country, but the hard part is in keeping all that extra square footage cool during the many hot months we experience. The construction details, materials and cardinal placement of a structure can determine much of the temperature conditions within the building, keeping harsh temperatures at bay.

Year round I've visited this garden center, and even on days that reach near 100 degrees, this building manages to hold in cool air because it makes the most out of any available breeze.

The side walls of this structure are built in ten-foot panel lengths to allow for easy add-on construction at a later date. In fact, Jon Mathews had this building constructed off-site, approximately two miles from this location, then his crew transported the assembled structure, in one piece, to the garden center. I can only imagine what THAT moving day had been like. Yikes!

The tongue and groove ceiling gives a warmth to the interior that can't be beat.

The large windows are divided light and quite large, which brings the outdoors inside, while keeping the heat out.

If you have a gorgeous view outside, such as this garden center enjoys, it is wonderful to have expansive views to the outdoors.

Speaking of windows, it appears to be a good investment to splurge on an unusual accent window for just-the-right-spot. This round window above the rafters draws the eye upward and lights up a space that would, otherwise, be dim. Such interesting windows can be functional, yet also act as a decorative jewel inviting natural light inside.

Beyond the main structures, Jon has built pergolas for his plants throughout the garden center and these structures are built so impressively that they almost seem like art.

However, Jon is a man who gets things done on a budget. If he can find left-over or re-claimed construction materials that meet his standards for a project, he will take that route and spend less money for his supplies. Intelligence, resourcefulness and creativeness...not bad traits for any person to embrace.

More importantly, Jon's main ideas are not envisioned and then left to the side to fade from memory, he takes the best of his ideas and brings them to life, and he does it with extraordinary attention to detail. I look around at the things that he's built and the things that he imagined, then had made into a physical reality, and I see that his hard-core attention to the smallest detail is part of what makes his creations memorable.

This trip involved several tours, of three large structures. We went from the front-side of the 150 acres to the back-side, so I will be making more posts about this wonderful tour experience.

Jon Mathews reminds me that some of our most interesting stories and sights are located in our own community. I'm thankful to share the miles around me with such a talented, hard-working and creative business person who is brave enough to share a small part of his life with us.

And, I am glad to have a front-yard and back-yard full of plants and gardening materials that have been purchased from Shades of Texas. Most of all, I've been reminded of how critical it is to take your business to locals. By choosing to support independently-owned businesses around your community, you help  business-owners remain in business and this promotes your own local investment toward constant improvement.

Even better, I LOVE seeing hard-work, patience, diligence, personal investment, blood, sweat, tears and all that good stuff be converted into a GOOD OLD AMERICAN SUCCESS STORY.


Karen said...

Hi Lana, I love that building, too! Makes me want to finish good ol' Aaargh more than ever now and get on to remodeling the hut we live in. You always post so many great ideas for buildings.

And your earlier post about the veterinarians was great too; I'm glad you found a reasonable one. Around here the prices are going up, too. I finally found a vet I adore (is that too strong of a word??) and I asked him if he took on people patients. (He doesn't. Sigh...) He has the best dog-side manner I've ever seen and is so calm and reassuring.

Great to visit with you, Lana!

Becky's Barnyard said...

That is a beautiful place. I can understand why you like it there. Just makes you want to buy somethilng.