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C.W. Craven stays busy in home gardening business

By By Steve Swogetinsky/The Meridian Star
APRIL 22, 2001
Running one's own business might seem to be a full-time job for most people, but C.W. Craven has two successful businesses to keep him occupied.
In 1996, Craven purchased Modern Garden Center, located on Highway 39 North. Two years later, he purchased Morgan Horticultural Center and renamed it Southern Garden and Adventure Outfitters. This store is located at 4919 Poplar Springs Drive.
Craven, a landscape architect, spends most of his time at Modern Garden, while his wife, Julie, oversees business at Southern Garden.
The two stores share certain similarities and appeal to customers with common interests. Modern Garden is dedicated to home gardening clientele, while Southern Garden is a specialty store as well as a garden shop.
Becoming a business owner in his hometown wasn't in Craven's plans when he graduated from Mississippi State University in 1976 with a B.S. degree in landscape architecture. He moved to Houston, Texas, and worked for Bernard Johnson Inc., which provided him with some interesting assignments.
He was also on the site selection committee that helped Exxon locate its corporate headquarters in Houston. And he had similar assignments to work with other companies, too.
The oil bust in the mid-1980s was hard on businesses in the Houston area, which is so dependent on the oil industry. In 1988, Craven moved his family back to Meridian where he went to work for Morgan Horticultural Center.
He worked there for 3 1-2 years, and then went to work for Modern Garden. In 1996, he had the opportunity to purchase Modern Garden. He did so with the help of Doc Braswell, Mississippi State University's small business consultant, who has an office at WEBB Center on the Meridian Community College campus.
Craven has plans to grow both businesses, which will remain his focus.
Craven credits a big part of his success with two longtime employees, Joanie Ratcliff and Don Williams. "They have been with me from the start," he said.
As a business owner, Craven gets to do it all. He still works with landscaping and planning, but now there is a business side to it. He goes to trade shows throughout the year and tries to keep the latest products available for his customers.
Steve Swogetinsky is regional editor of The Meridian Star. Call him at 693-1551, ext. 3217; or e-mail him at sswogetinsky@themeridianstar.com.

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