Like many other people who have suffered the ups and downs of working in heavy industry, Peter Notte started his own business.
Launching Premiere Landscaping and Garden Centre three decades ago, he has never looked back.
“I first started in Algoma Steel, in the tube mill division. I got laid off and I got into landscaping. I won the bid for a landscaping and flower planting job at the Sault Locks,” Peter recalled, speaking to SooToday.
From there, Peter and wife Irena have prospered.
Peter was born and raised in the Sault, Irena a native of Poland who immigrated to Canada 30 years ago.
The couple started up their landscaping and garden centre with one greenhouse in the backyard of their Second Line West home, then as the business grew over the years, several more greenhouses were added.
As you stand inside the greenhouses, the plants seem to go on for as far as the eye can see.
Over the years, Peter has landscaped commercial sites such as Brookfield Power’s Prince Township wind farm, Bellevue Park, several Tim Hortons locations, the FJ Davey Home and many upscale private homes.
“To me, landscaping is something nice for the community, a good business and something for my family to carry on,” Peter said.
Already busy with the couple’s greenhouses, Irena – who used to rise at 3 a.m. daily to water every flower before the couple installed sprinkler systems – opened the Premiere Gift Shop in 2013.
“I’ve been here five years and I’ve been looking at some old photographs, and it’s fascinating to see how the business has changed and how it grew from when it started,” said Verna Trudel, gift shop assistant manager.
“It’s gotten bigger and bigger every year. It’s busy. We sell things other places don’t sell. We’re one of only two places in the city that sells Lampe Berger (decorative fragrance lamps) and Yankee Candles (along with miniature memorial stones).”
“If Irena’s stressed, she goes outside and puts her hands in the soil and it takes away any depression or stress. She’s in her element when she’s got her hands digging in the dirt and making these flower arrangements,” Verna said.
Known especially for the begonias she grows, Irena said “the flowers make other people happy, so I’m happy.”