Thank Goodness for Our “Numbers People”!

gillnurseryLife in The Garden

A young Gary, just starting out with his Dad’s firm!

No, numbers aren’t the most glamorous part of a successful garden center, restaurant or sporting goods store. It’s the plants, food and surf boards.  That’s why we shop in those stores,  but that’s only one of the reasons why those stores continue to thrive!

A very important part of the success of a business is proper accounting and money management. The first lesson, money can’t be managed unless it is properly accounted for.

Very early on in our business I needed accounting help. I immediately thought of Gary Pearce, a good friend and CPA. After graduating from the University of Texas in accounting, he moved back to Corpus Christi to work with his dad, Marshal W. Pearce, in his accounting firm. Gary and I had known each other since  elementary school. His parents, Marshal & June, hosted our first boy-girl party in their backyard! I called Gary in March (middle of tax season), 1979. I can’t believe he took my call! We met at the end of tax season to discuss our business venture. Gary, always the optimist, listened to our ideas and encouraged us, giving us guidance in our business.  For the next year, Gary did an income statement for us each month,  donating his time! He is a very kind man, as many know. James and I had no experience in retail before starting Gill’s. We didn’t know you were supposed to take the register tape out of the cash register at the end of each day to check cash, checks, charges, etc… Oh, there was so much to learn!! To this day we seek Gary’s advice and his services. THANK GOODNESS FOR GARY!

A few years into the business  I called Gary again and told him I was having a hard time keeping up with the buying and accounting. He mentioned a woman who had worked for him in the past whom he felt would be a perfect match for us. Betty Maskey. She was a detail person, understood numbers, and loved to garden! She was perfect for Gill’s. 

Betty with our son, Trevor, back in the late 80’s.

Betty accounted for inventory coming and going, did our payroll, accounted for our landscape job costs  and at the end of every month created an income statement, all by calculator, paper and pen. No computers back then!

James and I did not disagree often, but when we did we would seek Betty’s advice. What a wise woman! I’ll say, beyond wise, she was also kind and unbiased. She didn’t play favorites, even though I know she adored James!  Today, we all say in chorus, THANK GOODNESS FOR BETTY!

In the early 90’s, Betty and her husband Harry decided they wanted to be closer to their kids so she turned in her notice. She gave us six months to find a replacement. Again, very, very kind!

Barbara & Stacy taking a break from numbers to play in the snow!

We placed an ad in the Corpus Christi Caller Times for the position and, oh my goodness, the applications came rolling in! I bet we had forty applications. As I looked through them, I kept wishing, “if only I could find someone like Barbara.” My mother had hired Barbara to work at my dad’s engineering firm years ago. I kept looking and looking, and towards the end of the enormous pile was Barbara’s application! What a gift! We hired Barbara immediately. Betty trained Barbara and voila, the transition was made.

As the company continued to grow, we hired assistants for Barbara, including Debbie, and then in the early 2000’s we hired Stacy. Today, Stacy manages our accounts payables and receivables. Stacy has an eagle-eye for accounting mistakes and finds them very quickly. She is a plant lover, too, and always snags beautiful plants as they roll off our vendor’s trucks. I love seeing her finds tucked next to her desk in the accounting office!

Barbara and Stacy make a fabulous accounting team. Their attention to detail, professionalism, reliability and true love for our company are beyond the best. They are the best of the best!!

Sally, James & Betty around Thanksgiving, 2017.

Betty stopped in before the holidays to visit and amazingly, even 25 years later, she can still walk in and we all get excited, “Betty’s here!!”

So, yes, Gill’s is more about plants than anything else, but we could never do it without our people.