Longtime owners sell Bookcliff Gardens

Rick and Steph Griggs, right, of Grand Junction closed on their purchase of Bookcliff Gardens, 755 26 Road, from former co-owners Dan Komlo, left, and Dennis Hill, second from left, on Oct. 18. Included in the purchase of the business is the macaw Baby, top, a longtime resident of the tropical greenhouse.

After nearly four decades running Bookcliff Gardens, Dennis Hill and Dan Komlo have sold the business.

But that doesn't mean regular customers won't see the longtime faces of the popular Grand Valley nursery and landscaping operation at the business for the foreseeable future. All the staff is also staying in place. Even the business' unofficial mascot, Baby, a macaw often found flying through one of the greenhouses, isn't going anywhere.

"Some staff was saying that if Baby went, they were going too," Komlo said. "That, or they were taking Baby with them."

Hill and Komlo, who have been at Bookcliff Gardens since 1980 and 1981, respectively, sold the business to Rick and Steph Griggs. But the longtime business partners say they both plan to stay on with the company for at least a year while the new owners acclimate to the operation.

The sale was official Oct. 18, Hill said.

Hill and Komlo bought into the business at 755 26 Road in the early 1980s and partnered with Ed Settle and his son, Bill. Ed died in the early 1990s and left his shares to Hill, Komlo and Bill. The two bought out Bill Settle nearly 15 years ago. Komlo has focused on the landscaping side of the business while Hill specializes in the nursery.

Hill and Komlo decided a little over a year ago that they were nearly ready to retire and worked with a broker to list the business for sale. They turned away a couple potential buyers, but when the Griggs came long, it felt right, Hill said.

"When we met with Rick and Steph, we knew right away that these are good folks," he said.

Both Hill and Komlo said their key concern in selling was what would happen to their employees. Even though Bookcliff is a seasonal business, it still employs between 15 and 20 people during the slow season and up to 70 during busy times.

Some of the employees have been with the gardens for more than a decade.

"The people here are our strength," Komlo said.

Rick Griggs has a background in geology and worked in the oil and gas industry and Steph, his wife, has worked in retail and in special education. The couple moved to the Grand Valley a few years ago, although Rick had previously lived in the area for roughly 20 years.

Steph said she and her husband were looking to buy a business and Bookcliff Gardens stood out when they came across the listing.

"It really caught our attention," she said.

Rick said their immediate goal is to learn from their staff as well as Hill and Komlo and maintain a good business. Down the road, they're open to listening to their employees for potential changes to improve things.

"If we have one goal, it would be to maintain what we're doing and keep the reputation," he said. "This is a household word."

That reputation is something that is important to Hill and Komlo. They said they've taken a lot of pride in driving around town and seeing trees they have planted, areas they have landscaped, or in being approached by customers when wearing their Bookcliff Gardens shirts in the grocery store.

"We've made the Grand Valley a better place, I think," Hill said.

And while they no longer have the stress of owning the business, Hill added that not much has changed since Rick and Steph took over.

"It's almost surreal," he said. "There's been this fundamental change to our lives, but the day-to-day hasn't changed."

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