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Sales Bloom on Net - Greenhouses bought across N. America

March 29th, 2007:

Below is a copy of an interview with Shelley Awad, owner of Backyard Greenhouses and SIKA Footwear which appeared in The Windsor Star, on Thursday, March 29, 2007.

By: Ted Whipp, Windsor Star
Published: Thursday, March 29, 2007

A hobby greenhouse business in Windsor that began on the Internet continues to post annual sales increases.

While friends and colleagues wondered about the venture in 1999, Shelley Awad was absolutely certain the business, Backyard Greenhouses, could succeed online.

Awad said the Internet offered far more potential for selling her backyard greenhouse kits than a conventional bricks-and-mortar outlet.

The first day the business went live, she closed her first sale. The venture, based at 2539 Dougall Ave., continues to click, with sales across North America, including Mexico and Alaska. A recent promotion was tied with the powerhouse search engine Google, helping her achieve her highest sales month since opening.
While she was one of the first online with hobby greenhouses, competitors have followed her into the market. That market is growing, especially thanks to the enthusiasm of aging baby boomers.

The greenhouses come in all kinds of shapes, sizes and materials, starting about $2,000 for a kit. Most customers do the assembly themselves.

Her corporate experience also helped nurture her desire to run her own venture, which is a division in the business her husband operates, Ecolad Corporation, a supplier of environmental containers for litter, recycling and cigarette disposal.

In recent years, Awad has added Sika Footwear to her inventory. The comfortable, slip-resistant clogs and shoes cost $100 and up. They sell to health and hospitality professionals such as nurses and chefs as well as customers seeking clogs for gardening and recreational activities. The shoes are sold online and from her Dougall Avenue base.

Awad, 48, says she saw a need for quality orthotic footwear from her work with a health benefit company.

1. What was your first job, and how did it influence you?
"I was 15 years old when I was hired as an office clerk at Rossini Tile & Carpet. I was taught several different tasks and learned basic business practices."
Born and raised in the Riverside area of Windsor, Awad and her husband Mitch have one grown son. A Riverside high school grad, she went to Fanshawe College and St. Clair College.
She also worked in administration with the accounting firm Deloitte and Touche and in marketing for the health insurance provider Greenshield.

2. What's your best success?
"It has been very rewarding growing Backyard Greenhouses into one of North America's largest hobby greenhouse companies.
"It has also been very rewarding to have been chosen by the governor of Maine and both the U.S. and Canadian governments for their greenhouse purchases."
3. How do you remain inspired, motivated?
"I absolutely love what I do. It's easy to stay motivated when you love what you do. I constantly challenge myself."
4. How do you balance work and family?
"We try to be home by 6 p.m. and always have dinner together. We also make an effort to keep business separate from personal time."
5. What's your best and worst habit at work?
"My best habit is my ability to multi-task and perform many functions all at the same time. My worst habit -- sometimes I take on too much. I think I can take on more work, but there are only so many hours in a day."
Backyard Greenhouses
A div. of Ecolad Corporation

Written By: Ted Whipp
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