Tour of Creation Gardens| July 2016
The name Creation Gardens, a well-known Louisville-area produce company, suggests at first notice a small-scale enterprise that focuses on high end, fresh food items that may be hard to find from most commercial sources.
And that description is accurate, except for the small part. This place, our tour group found out recently, is anything but small.
The Agribusiness Industry Network was treated in September to a guided tour of Creation Gardens food distribution facility in eastern Jefferson County, and managing partner Jim Bibb explained just how extensive-but quality conscious-the business has become.
As the group walked the aisles, loading docks and meat processing areas of the sizeable building, Bibb chronicled the growth and expansion of Creation Gardens since it began not quite 20 years ago in a repurposed ice house in downtown Louisville.
Now the company has around 250 employees, with auxiliary distribution facilities in such cities as Nashville and Cincinnati. And it serves restaurant and grocery customers in Evansville, Owensboro and Lexington with other regional markets under review for possible additional expansion.
At any given time the firm has 65 to 70 trucks on the road, with the ones out of Louisville loaded on a dock kept at 34 degrees to ensure the highest quality when the food reaches its destinations.
Some 2,000 customers depend on Creation Gardens to keep them supplied with top-of-the-line food selections sourced locally when available, or nationally and internationally when required. Inventory at the Louisville facility routinely stands at 6,500 separate items, with every one of those items important to segments of that customer base.
Although the company combined retail and wholesale sales at their initial location, as the company grew and merged with or acquired other firms, the retail function was jettisoned in favor of a focus on growing the wholesale distribution side.
And the shift paid dividends, with top chefs and grocery managers now using Creation Gardens as their go-to source for guaranteed top quality items ranging from fresh produce to finished food staples, meat and flavorings.
Reading the labels on the thousands of shelves in the facility is like perusing the menus of top restaurants and retailers across the region.
In fact, customer tours of the warehouse are conducted several times a week, Bibb said, as new or established chefs walk the aisles to discover the latest specialty product that might convert to their next popular menu item.
Creation Gardens did hold onto one area of retail sales, opening an online meat shop accessible at butcheryfresh.com. There individuals can shop for hard-to-find cuts like prime Creekstone Farms angus beef and pork from Berkshire breed hogs produced at Berkwood Farms.
Creation Gardens is owned by Mollie Turnier, who serves as chairman and CEO. Her husband Ron is president and CFO.
We hope those attending the tour learned a great deal about this thriving, local agribusiness.
Gary Huddleston | AIN Chairman