'An emotional time': St. Albert business Hole's Greenhouses sold

Hole's Greenhouses & Gardens in St. Albert has been sold to TEC Property Inc., Hole's said in a news release Monday.

Buyer TEC Property Inc. already owns the Enjoy Centre

This undated photo shows (from left) Jim and Bill Hole with their parents Lois and Ted on the family farm in St. Albert. (Supplied by Hole family)

Hole's Greenhouses & Gardens Ltd., one of the best-known businesses in St. Albert, has been sold.

The family-owned company has been sold to agriculture company TEC Property Inc. effective Dec. 31, co-owner Jim Hole said Monday.

TEC Property, which owns the Enjoy Centre, will take over management of the business and work with the Hole family in transition for the 2020 season.

"It is an emotional time for our family and we're excited for the next step," Hole said in a news release. "It's a privilege to share knowledge of gardening with the community for such a long time and we will continue to do so."

The family name will remain on the Enjoy Centre building. The Hole family will stay on at the greenhouse to help with the change until June 30, 2020 and all staff will stay on.

Ted and Lois Hole incorporated their small St. Albert farm business as Hole's Greenhouses & Gardens Ltd. nearly 50 years ago. In 1979, sons Bill and Jim, and Bill's wife Valerie, took over the company, according to the company's website.

In 2009, Hole's began construction on the Enjoy Centre at a new location in St. Albert, with added space for businesses to lease.

'Never scared of change'

Change was something his family was familiar with, Jim Hole said. When his parents started farming in the 1950s they set up a grain farm that became a chicken operation and later a hog operation before it became a greenhouse and garden centre, he said.

"Mom and Dad were never scared of change and I know they would embrace what we've done with the Enjoy Centre and our next moves into the future."

Selling the business "is a bit bittersweet," Hole told CBC News on Monday.

"I grew up on the farm and walking through the crop with Mom and Dad, and of course they passed away a few years ago, but there's still those memories of doing that and there will be a little bit of sadness at not being able to walk through the crop all the time here."

He learned from his mother that the business was more than "just selling vegetables and selling plants to people" —it was about building connections.

"Really embracing the community and helping out when you can," he said. "Mom was always big on that."

Lois Hole, a longtime school trustee and author in addition to her career in business, served as Alberta's 15th lieutenant-governor.

In a photo taken in February 2017, gardening expert Jim Hole gives advice on what to plant and when at The Enjoy Centre in St. Albert. (John Robertson/CBC)

The family will continue to focus on its private label merchandise, including a potting soil, Jim Hole said.

"We haven't got a full slate of different privately-labelled products but I think we're going to get to that at a certain point."

Hole said he isn't retiring. He plans to focus on his job as vice-president of cultivation with Atlas Growers, a medicinal cannabis producer and subsidiary of Atlas Biotechnologies Inc.

"I've always been a plant science geek and love the science of growing plants," he said, adding he still has a lot to learn about growing medicinal cannabis that is consistent and of high quality.

The Enjoy Centre, at 101 Riel Dr. in St. Albert, was sold to TEC Property Ltd. in 2015.