Generational differences notwithstanding, the business prospered. The third generation had many good ideas for moving the company forward. Frank Bendure, for instance, was instrumental in perfecting the 'diggers' – tractors fitted with hydraulically-powered cylindrical 'buckets' to dig B&B evergreens. Now we could dig thousands of evergreens a day instead of hundreds, and dig them with a consistent quality almost unheard of in that day.
The interstate high way system was being built, and Fairview was one of the exits on I-90. Suddenly it was easy to ship tractor trailer loads of plants to places like Detroit, Chicago, Kansas City in the west, and east to Buffalo, Rochester, even New York City. The move to the suburbs was in full swing, and all those beautiful new homes needed beautiful plants for their landscapes. We didn't ever get into the trucking business ourselves, but instead depended on some reliable local haulers to deliver for us. Harry Younger, Glenn Hannah, Frank Sabol, Chuck Lander, all of the truckers who hauled for us were more than just truckers, they were our ambassadors to our customers. Frank Sabol's sons continue to haul for us today, working so reliably and knowledgeably that our customers often consider them to be an extension of our company.
Given our new-found ability to dig and deliver much more nursery stock, we needed to upgrade our loading facilities. We built a new loading dock, purchased fork lifts, and implemented a new system of bringing B&B evergreens from the fields on pallets to the loading dock. 'Haul-in' trucks that could carry four to six pallets were used to bring plants into the loading area from the fields where they were dug. One truck could bring in 150 to 200 B&B evergreens.
Fork lifts would unload the pallets from the trucks, and the same pallets full of trees could then be driven into the tractor trailers from the back, unloaded, and stacked to be reused. The tractor trailers could hold 700 or so B&B evergreens, stacked lying sidewise like cordwood. Fairview Evergreen was certainly among the first, if not the first, to mechanize the digging and delivery process in this way, and it gave us a competitive advantage for many years. Not only was the quality of the plants delivered excellent, the number of employees needed to produce this kind of quality plants was significantly less than the norm for that time.
As the demand for quality nursery stock increased, we attempted to keep up with it by planting more. Since it is virtually impossible to buy huge tracts of viable nursery land in Erie County along the lake plain, we resorted to buying smaller farms, increasingly far from our base in Fairview. In 1973 we were able to purchase 480 acres of mostly good land in Girard Township from the U.S. Steel Company, land which had been purchased by Andrew Carnegie in the late 1800's for a possible steel mill. Ironically, several years later, U.S. Steel almost did build a mill, across the road from where we had bought their property. We battled them at hearing after hearing, hoping to stop the project. In the end they bought Marathon Oil Company with the billion dollars they had earmarked for the steel mill, and we were saved.
We opted to go the route of slow growth rather than trying to double our production as some suggested. We had become so famous for our quality Taxus, from Capitata to Densiformis, that we were constantly sold out in the 1970's. Taxus was king – we had to allocate them even to our best customers so that everyone would get at least some of them. We went to trade shows with nothing to sell. We gradually increased production, but it must be remembered that it takes from eight to twelve years to grow a good quality, saleable Taxus plant.
In 1974, to facilitate the transition from second generation to third generation management, we hired a consultant. For 1975 we adopted their recommendations and formed a new management structure with Teddy Hetz as General Manager and Garth Hetz as President. While the Board of Directors ostensibly managed the company, the day to day decision making mostly was in the capable hands of the Management Committee, consisting of five members, Garth, Ted, Steve and Richard Hetz, and Frank Bendure, one from each of the five original second generation 'families'. Hmmm... sound familiar?