On. Feb. 29, Pike Nurseries announced the passing of its beloved founder, William “Pete” Pike. Pike, age 90, passed away on Feb. 28, surrounded by his family and close friends. He is remembered by many as a dedicated friend and entrepreneur.
Pete Pike founded Pike Nurseries on his signature uncomplicated, common-sense business approach. He started his business with three employees and a 200-square-foot location on Highway 41 in Marietta, Georgia. Since then, Pike Nurseries has become a Southern institution, comprised of 500 employees in peak seasons and 18 retail stores in the metro-Atlanta and Charlotte, North Carolina, areas.
As Pike and his family led Pike Nurseries into the 21st century, their plans for the future included the expansion of Pike Nurseries outside the boundaries of metro Atlanta and into North Carolina. After Pike retired as president and CEO, a position he held for 46 years, Armstrong Garden Centers, a California chain of garden centers, purchased Pike Nurseries. The new leadership continues to uphold Pike’s values and expand his vision. Today, Monte Enright leads Pike Nurseries as president and CEO and remains inspired by Pike’s drive and good-hearted nature.
“Pete Pike was an icon in the lawn and garden industry,” said CEO of Pike Nurseries & Armstrong Garden Centers Monte Enright. “He built his reputation on his honesty and straight forward way of doing business. I know Pete to be very caring and generous to a fault with all of his friends, relatives and employees. I have known Pete since 1990 and was honored that he called me a very good friend.”
Pete Pike became interested in the nursery business in the mid-1950s. While serving at the Naval Air Station in Chamblee, Georgia, he worked part-time for Lymburner’s Nursery to supplement his income and support a growing family. In 1958, with more nerve than money, Pike decided to try his luck with his own nursery business and the rest, as they say, is history.
A native of Hogansville, Georgia, Pike was a pioneer in Atlanta’s lawn and garden industry. The secret to Pike Nurseries’ success is his uncomplicated approach to business, small-town values and big-city ideas. Pike also believed that the customer always comes first. To that end, Pike Nurseries has always been dedicated to providing the very best in service, selection and quality to its customers.
Through the years, Pike garnered several well-deserved honors for his contributions to the green industry and to the metro-Atlanta area, including the Atlanta 100 Entrepreneur of the Year in 1991. He also received the Metro-Atlanta Landscape and Turf Association’s Pioneer Award, the Georgia Green Industry Association’s Outstanding Nurseryman Award, the Greater Atlanta Nurserymen’s Association’s Distinguished Service Award and the University of Georgia’s University Friend Arch Award.
His hometown of Hogansville, Georgia, also asked its native son to be the Grand Marshal of the Victorian Heritage Festival in 1995. In 2005, Pike was presented the prestigious Lifetime Achievement Award from the Georgia Green Industry Association the icing on his proverbial cake. Pike and his wife, Jerri, also contributed generously to many charitable organizations, including the DeKalb Medical Centers in Decatur and Lithonia, Georgia, the Ford African Rain Forest at Zoo Atlanta, Atlanta’s Ronald McDonald House and the Greater Atlanta Christian School in Norcross, Georgia.
Though retired, Pike remained active in the business, serving as a consultant and friend to CEO Monte Enright. He could be seen at the corporate office and at the stores on a regular basis. Through the years, Pike remained the same hard-working and big-hearted man that he always was, dedicated to his family and friends and to the continuing success of Pike Nurseries.