Logan Trading Co.

Published in The News & Observer February 13, 2011

Logan Trading Co., better known as Logan’s, is considered one of the top garden centers in the Raleigh area. It is also a third-generation family business that has seen its share of ups and downs, but has managed to stay on course and thrive.

In 1965, Robert M. “Bob” Logan founded the company, primarily as a produce buyer. He quickly expanded his business to include garden products and brokering damaged railroad goods. Located at the old Farmers Market off Capital Boulevard, his business grew, and he found that his success was centering on garden products.

Family and business

Along the way, Bob and his wife, Helen, raised a large family: five girls and one boy named Robert M. Logan Jr. Like many family businesses, all his kids spent time working in the business. However, Robert Logan remembers that his dad was always pressuring him to join the business full time. Robert thought he should be allowed to make up his own mind and pursue his own dream: joining the ministry. He enrolled in Southeastern Seminary.

While attending school he worked outside the business with his cousin doing landscaping. And it was during this time he was not working for his father and pursuing his own path, he had an epiphany: There are other ways to minister outside of being in the ministry, and he loved working with plants. In 1974, Robert decided to join his father full time.

Crossing the chasm

In 1990, the state decided to expand the Farmers Market and moved it to southwest Raleigh. This did not sit well with Robert as it would take him too far from his current customer base. Scouring the area for a suitable location, he came across the abandoned railroad station near Peace Street and Capital Boulevard.

The structure was in disrepair. Homeless people were living in it, and it was surrounded by abandoned buildings. There were weeds and overgrowth everywhere, it was near low-income housing and noisy trains came through all the time. So not only would it take substantial money and effort to bring the site up to par, what customer in her right mind would want to shop here? His family and friends thought he was crazy – except for one.

Greg Poole and Bob had done some business in the past, and Robert had the opportunity to get to know Greg at an early age. By an amazing coincidence, or simply by providence, Greg approached Robert independently with an idea that he should relocate Logan’s to the old railroad station, and that he would help him do it.

So in 1991, with some hard work and a lot of advertising informing customers of the new location, Logan’s opened its new store. Maybe two wrongs don’t make a right, but just maybe two crazy people with vision make a genius.

The family problem

One of the top reasons family businesses fail is having too many shareholders. It is worse if many are not working in the business and have the majority ownership. Robert found himself in that situation when his father died in 1984.

In essence, Bob was not in full control of the business. In 2009, with family members getting older and Robert winning praise as the leader of the business, all the shares were consolidated underneath him.

He decided to close on Sundays, as it is a day of rest. Robert also decided to revive the old diner at the new location, and there has been a line for lunch ever since. Another interesting relic of the past is that you can still see how the old train station was architecturally divided into a white section and a colored section.

Bob and Julie have run Logan’s over the years, and their two kids, Josh and Leslie, have grown up working in the business. However, based on Bob’s philosophy of life, there is no pressure for them to be a part of the business. He would rather they pursue their own dreams.

Josh wants to help underprivileged children in Brazil, and Leslie has a passion for music. Some years ago Josh was the general manager for Logan’s, with Leslie working for him, and now Leslie is acting as the GM with Josh underneath her. It is looking like the Logan family tradition will continue into the next generation, with each being able to pursue their own dream, while providing a gardening oasis for Raleigh residents at the same time.

Read more here: http://www.newsobserver.com/2011/02/13/983861/logan-trading-co-just-keeps-on.html#storylink=cpy

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