Lori Butala

Many people who settle in the Hayward area come to believe they have found nirvana. Many of those born here never leave, and even more people, after getting even just a brief introduction to it as children, vow they will come back and live here. And they do.

Meet one of them, your neighbor Lori Butala.

Lori spent much of her childhood in Minneapolis, but for three years — after her stepfather moved the family to a dairy farm located between Stone Lake and Springbrook — she lived in this area, attending Springbrook Elementary School.

 

Where else did you go to school and what did you do in your career?

“I received an undergraduate degree in business at St. Cloud State University — and in many classes I was the only woman — followed by an MBA from the Carlson School of Business at the University of Minnesota. 

My career was selling large computer systems for NCR and later AT&T, which brought with it much travel, and everywhere I went, I compared it to the Hayward area. Everywhere. There were areas in Europe that rivaled Hayward’s beauty, but the combination of woods, water and small town feel, which enhances our lives daily, is rarely found.

I eventually left corporate life and became director of the Hayward Area Chamber of Commerce. It is very easy to sell people on something you really find valuable.”

 

How did you get into Nature’s Design and landscaping?

“Throughout my years in the corporate world I used gardening as a respite. My mother and grandmothers were gardeners and I loved flowers and fresh vegetables. 

My ex-husband and Barry Korpel used to play basketball together and sit at the Moose Café and think up “get rich slow” schemes. They started a lawn mowing business.

My initial job was to market their services. I gave it a name, ‘Cheap Chop.’ I gave it a slogan, ‘Mow Lawn for Less Green.’ Soon customers were asking them for assistance with landscaping . . . of which they knew little. I was called in and the rest is history.

Twenty-plus years later, I am still at it with my business partner, Kathy Kisch. We own Nature’s Designs. We are anything but your typical garden center/landscaping service. 

Soon after opening the retail garden center, I realized just how menacing our “green” industry is to the environment. Plastic pots and hanging baskets do not break down and are given to our customers with little interest in having them returned. In most greenhouses this numbers in the thousands each year. 

We began a program where customers return their hanging baskets in the fall and receive full credit for them. We clean them and replant them the following spring with just the right materials for their color preferences, sunlight, wind, etc. They are labeled and ready to go. Less frenzy, better service and we all save money. The earth breathes a sigh of relief. 

Tell us about your “Potting Parties.”

“We also have one of the largest custom potting businesses I have witnessed. I have always enjoyed helping others be successful with their gardening. Each spring I was trying to help many people design their pots, and as word caught on, it became harder to help in the short number of weekends involved. Kathy and I decided to have Potting Parties. It has been a hit! 

Both women and men bring in their pots (parties begin in mid-April), and we help them with design, show proper planting and care techniques, and watch over their pots until the threat of frost has passed. It is so fun to walk through the greenhouses and see the various pots and know the wonderful people who own them. It is social.

We have refreshments and the excitement for great combinations and new varieties never goes away. Nor do the pots that the plants were grown in. So . . . fewer plastics going into the landfills. Our Facebook site shows the schedules each spring. 

The Hayward Garden Club and I are starting a “Pot it Forward” movement to provide potted annuals to seniors in need. This year they began by working with Meals on Wheels. I hope to have many of our Potting Party attendees participate in donating flowers to those in need. Kathy and I will donate the pots and soil. The love of flowers is shared by many who for physical or financial reasons cannot get flowers themselves.

When the annuals are sold, we concentrate totally on landscaping and close the greenhouses for the season. We handle a great deal of the commercial work in the area, and this year are landscaping the entire Memorial Medical Center campus in Ashland (we also handle Hayward’s medical campus). It is very fulfilling to create beauty for areas where respite is needed. Our first area will be the Northwest Cancer Center in Ashland.”

 

And what do you do when you’re not potting and landscaping?

“When not working, I devote time to the Northwoods Humane Society. As a board member, I am part of most fundraising activities. We are lucky to have such a phenomenal facility and organization here in Hayward. My dog, Brewster, is known by many as the greenhouse greeter. Animals are close to my heart. 

I also love swimming, attending concerts, time with friends, baking and visiting my sister in Phoenix. I have a great family.”

 

What are the best things in life, do you think?

“I believe the best thing is life is when you know just who you are. All of it — the great, the ‘needs improvement’ — and love and accept yourself. I feel it helps you to love and accept others. I treasure my friends here in Hayward who also accept me, warts and all.

Hayward is a great place. We live large for such a small community. It is because we have such a great network of volunteers and financial supporters. A wonderful library, events, performing arts center, animal shelter, health care network and businesses who agree with me that flowers add to our quality of life!”

 

 

(Copyright © 2019 APG Media)

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