In the early 1990s, father-son team Jerome and Justin Bowen were doing the grading work on a large pond-building project when the opportunity arose for them to branch out into another line of work. The landscapers who were hired to install the plant material around the pond were unable to find a contractor who could deliver large caliper trees.
Fortunately, the Bowens had just acquired a used 40” tree spade from a local auction and were able to help.
According to Justin, things naturally fell into place for the two men and it wasn’t long before a new company was born and looking ahead for new growth.
“After digging trees for that job, we began taking on other similar projects and eventually, we were gathering a solid customer base in our area.” “We purchased a 90-inch truck-mounted spade and a 52-inch loader-mounted spade, then we started hitting the market hard with all phases of the tree service industry”
When they realized the high demand for such large trees, the co-owners decided to grow their own trees for wholesale to members of the land-development and landscaping industries.
Jerome started by planting about 10 acres on his home property. The newly-dubbed growers also worked together to plant another 15 acres of evergreens and deciduous varieties on properties they had previously purchased as real estate investments.
They called their company “Lone Pine Nursery & Tree Service” and gradually evolved the operation. The total acreage of trees in production grew from the original 25 acres to the current size of nearly 70 acres. The varieties grown there also changed.
“We now grow all sorts of evergreens, from Colorado and Norway spruce to Ponderosa pine and Scotch pine,” said Justin. “We also grow Swedish aspen, several ash varieties, poplars, cottonwoods, maples, willows, crabapples and apples, among others.”
Many of the trees are bound for hotels, resorts and major commercial and residential developments throughout Idaho, Wyoming, Utah and other parts of the intermountain west region. In one instance, several hundred 20 ft. to 40 ft. evergreens were shipped to Sun Valley, ID for the Golden Eagle development project.
The company has even shipped a 48-foot spruce to Telluride, CO for use in a Budweiser television commercial. Most viewers recognize the comical commercial, said Justin, as it involves several horses engaged in a snowball/snowfall fight. “At the end of the commercial, a large horse bumps the pine tree, causing snow to fall on a couple of smaller horses,” he explained. “It’s amazing what customers we get from time to time.”
Along with supplying large caliper trees — their primary niche — the owners have worked hard to add an array of other types of plant material to their list of offerings. The number of native shrubs grown at Lone Pine Nursery & Tree Service is certainly impressive. Varieties range from lilacs and dogwoods to choke cherries and lindens, to name just a few.
Two Nexus greenhouses and six hoop houses are on site for propagating and growing all of its annuals and perennials. “Our greenhouses are literally the among the nicest I’ve ever witnessed. We are well known for our hanging baskets and petunia fences.” says Justin. Among the full-scale retail garden center on the property is everything from annual bedding plants, hanging baskets, and mixed containers, boulders, to chemicals, fertilizers and gift items. And, the business carries bulk materials such as bark, rocks, gravel and topsoil.
It takes a staff of 40 to run all of the company’s divisions during peak season. Around 16 employees are needed for the company’s landscaping division alone.
“With our excavating business( Jerome Bowen Construction) and landscaping division, we are able to do just about everything from start to finish; everything but constructing the buildings,” noted Justin. “We do the grading and site prep, install all of the landscaping – including sod — and we can do road work, ponds and sewer systems, underground utilities, etc.”
Workers at Lone Pine Nursery & Tree Service are keep busy with landscape jobs throughout the region during the spring, summer and fall. The garden center employees also have a full slate during these seasons and in the winter too. Along with selling plants and related products, the division hosts numerous classes and events.
Its Annual Christmas Craft Fair, for instance, was held the last weekend of November in 2009. During the event, guests were invited to browse the assortment of garland, wreaths, Christmas ornaments, homemade fudge, candy, honey, candles and other products stocked there. Visitors also enjoyed freehorse-drawn sleigh rides, purchased pre-cut Christmas trees and sipped on steaming cups of hot chocolate. In addition, Lone Pine has placed its mark in the community with an annual Kids Free Fishing Day ( usually held the 3rd weekend in June) at its five-acre pond. “We’ll be going on 4 years this year.” says Justin “It’s a hoot to watch these kids pulling 18″ trout out of the pond like it’s a miracle or something, you know it just made their day, even their whole week.” Lone Pine stocks the pond with about a 1000 lbs. of rainbow trout, about a week before the event. ” It’s a guaranteed catch.”
Such events make the business a destination location rather than just a retail outlet. “We’ve even had wedding receptions out here”, said Justin.
“We have evolved so much over the years and now have a one-stop shop for virtually everything our customers could want or need,” he said. “In the future, we plan to continue offering a vast range of products and services. And, we hope to streamline our divisions along the way to make them even more efficient so we can offer our customers the best products and service possible.”