ELYRIA — Ed Schuster is working out back.
Ashley Schuster is helping customers in the greenhouse.
Phyllis Schuster is answering the phone.
Charlotte Schuster is in her home, a stone’s throw from the business.
At the Donald A. Schuster Greenhouse on Murray Ridge Road, the name Schuster has been rooted in the ground like a beautiful field of flowers for more than half a century. What Charlotte and Donald Schuster started 50 years ago continues to blossom the epitome of a family business.
“It’s a very unique situation that works for us because a lot of people couldn’t take working with their family every day,” said Ashley Schuster.
“Yes, we learned early on that if you have a spat, you just have to get over it, move on and get the day’s work done,” added Phyllis Schuster, one of Charlotte and Donald’s 10 kids.
How Schuster’s Greenhouse came to be goes back to 1927, when Martin Schuster bought a plot of land just outside the city to grow vegetable crops.
His son, Donald A. Schuster, had a passion for bedding plants and wanted to start a greenhouse business. In 1964, Donald opened his doors with his wife, Charlotte.
In 2000, Donald retired and handed the business to his four sons; Don Jr., Ed, Steve and Chuck. Don Jr. has retired, but the rest of the Schuster men are toiling each day.
Ed Schuster said it wasn’t just family sweat equity that has kept the business going.
“I say it’s quality products and quality service,” he said. “We stick to what we know. The greenhouse and pumpkins and fall decorations. Soybeans and wheat in the fields.”
Word of mouth has always worked to keep customers coming back. But Ashley Schuster said using social media driven by younger Schusters, who are becoming more hands-on in the business, has done wonders to spread the business to new clientele on Facebook.
“But people still come to us because they see their neighbor’s yards and flowers and want to know where they came from,” she said.
Most of the Schusters still live near the greenhouse. It is so much a part of the family’s life that holiday gatherings are held there — it’s the only place large enough to fit the brood that can top 80 for Christmas dinner.
“We have always known that, no matter what, we can come back to this house,” said Ashley Schuster.
“We are not close because of the business. We are close because we’re a family,” added Phyllis Schuster.
It’s rare to find someone there who is not a Schuster, but even those who are brought into the Schuster family fold, said Ed Schuster.
“We treat them like family,” he said. “It’s like with our customers. We are happy to see new faces, but we love the old ones just the same.”