3500 Wadsworth Rd • Saginaw, MI 48601

About us

Abele Greenhouse History

As we understand, our story begins in the 1890’s when a young Thomas Abele immigrated to Saginaw after his father died in an accident at a quarry near Dahenfeld, Germany where the family lived, and his mother was having trouble providing for he and his siblings. Mr. Abele purchased the land where Abele Greenhouse stands and began his own truck garden and greenhouse.  He married Josephine Grohman and had four children. The youngest son, Edward, eventually took over the family business while his siblings went to college and stayed in the metro Detroit area.

At this time, the business was primarily wholesale, selling to flower shops and growing holiday plants. Ed did not get married until later in life, when he married Marie. From the stories that former employees and friends have stopped in and shared with us, it sounds like Ed was a very good businessman and well liked. He was a faithful member of St. Joseph Catholic Parish on 6th street and had a car parked in the barn at the greenhouse he only drove on Sunday.  He died in his 70’s still running the greenhouse, and after his death, his widow decided to sell the business. 

Around this time Dave VanOoteghem decided to continue his education at DuPage Horticulture School in West Chicago, Illinois.  When Dave completed his education in 1974, his parents lent him, his wife Christine, and his brother Jerry the capital to acquire the business from Marie Abele.  Dave, Jerry, and Chris kept the Abele name, as it had history and was much easier to pronounce than VanOoteghem!  Dave and Chris and Jerry moved to Abele Greenhouse to run the day-to-day operations and raise their families there.

During the 1980’s and 90’s Abele Greenhouse transitioned from primarily wholesale growers to retail sales. Jerry stopped the weekly truck service to flower shops in 1995 and by 2007 there were no more poinsettias or Easter lilies grown, focusing solely on retail sales, primarily in the spring and fall seasons. At this time Abele Greenhouse also began a landscaping division and began offering trees and shrubs.  The trio grew the business to what it is today!

Dave, Chris and Jerry are now retired, with Dave and Chris’ daughter Jennifer, who grew up at the greenhouse, owning the business with her husband Matt, who always wanted to be a farmer!  Jennifer greatly enjoyed growing up at the greenhouse, especially disbudding mums every Monday (not really!) and caring for her pet chickens, goats, and sheep.  Matt and Jennifer are both Certified Public Accountants and had a short stint in public accounting before joining the family business to raise their family and continue the legacy.  They have four children, who have all grown up working there as well.