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‘Best Decision of My Life’: 50-YO Quits Job to Start a Plant Nursery, Earns Rs 2 Crore/Year

Bhausaheb Navale started the ‘Greens and Blooms’ nursery in Pune along with Sharad Patil, cultivating more than 150 exotic flowers like orchids and anthuriums. At the age of 50, he made the bold decision of leaving a secure job to pursue his passion for horticulture.

‘Best Decision of My Life’: 50-YO Quits Job to Start a Plant Nursery, Earns Rs 2 Crore/Year

“There is no right time to take risks. You will have some responsibility at every stage of your life. You will never feel ready to take the plunge. You just have to believe in yourself and your talent, and you will be successful,” says Bhausaheb Navale (55).

This mantra and fearless attitude helped this Pune resident to take what some might consider a very big risk, at the age of 50.

Leaving behind a cushy job that paid him Rs 3 lakh per month, this floriculturist dived head first into a nursery business, which is investment-heavy and takes time to give returns.

Ask most middle-class people, who most often worry about their responsibilities vis a vis their children’s education or planning a corpus for retirement, Bhausaheb took the bold decision to fulfil his dream. After spending the past three decades of his life in the horticulture industry, Bhausaheb was itching to start his own business.

With three children in school, Bhausaheb’s family was initially surprised by his decision. However, they were confident in his experience, knowledge, and strong determination to make the venture successful.

So, on 1 March, 2020, he started a nursery business in Pune called ‘Greens and Blooms’ with his friend Sharad Patil. The duo invested almost Rs 50 lakh of their own capital to start the business.

As luck would have it, 23 days later, the Government called for a nationwide lockdown to combat COVID-19. Bhausaheb’s business of growing exotic flowers, such as orchids and anthuriums, involved a lot of imports. So with the lockdown imposed, his business was off to a rocky start.

Yet, he didn’t lose hope. His tenacity and passion for floriculture inspired him to beat all odds and take his business to heights. This year, he earned a turnover of Rs 2 crore.

‘It’s all in or nothing’

Bhausaheb grew up in Akole in Sangamner, Maharashtra. He watched his father, a farmer, carve a good name for himself in the market. His father grew sugarcane and a variety of fruits and vegetables, which instilled a deep interest in agriculture in young Bhausaheb.

Orchids at Greens and Blooms Nursery in Pune
Orchids at Greens and Blooms Nursery in Pune

“I learnt a lot from my father. I would follow him everywhere and much of my knowledge and working style comes from watching him. I wanted to take his name forward and chose to study BSc agriculture,” Bhausaheb tells The Better India.

After completing his education in Pune, he worked in polyhouses and horticulture training centres. He was one of the early adopters when the floriculture industry started in India. After his stints in the country, he worked in Ethiopia for 10 years where he handled over 200 acres of rose cultivation.

After returning to India in 2015, while he wanted to start his business, he decided to work in a nursery in Pune to understand the Indian market better.

Different types of exotic flowers are grown at Greens and Blooms nursery
Greens and Blooms nursery

Finally, in December 2019, Bhausaheb quit his job and started working on his lifelong dream of starting his nursery.

“I worked on getting the necessary permissions and place in MIDC to start the nursery. I also started growing some plants on a trial basis. Since most of the plants I wanted to grow had to be imported, I had to get the required licences and find the right places to buy the young plants,” he adds.

With the initial paperwork done, the horticulturist launched Greens and Blooms in March 2020, only to face a major challenge that would derail his best-laid plans.

Bhausaheb wanted to place orders to import the phalaenopsis orchid from Taiwan and anthuriums from Holland. Due to the lockdown, his import paperwork took a lot of time, delaying the whole process. The pandemic also caused a problem in getting the basic materials for his nursery — such as flower pots, cocopeat, and soil, among others. Getting labour too was a big challenge, with Bhausaheb himself doing most of the work.

“Sometimes I wondered if we made the wrong decision or started at the wrong time. I encountered a challenge at every single step. Imagine starting a nursery with flower pots or plants,” he says.

A bumpy start, a quick recovery

Not one to lose hope, Bhausaheb persevered. Since imports were going to take time, he started planting local plant varieties, which were ready by June 2020. Through word of mouth and joining All India Nursery Groups on WhatsApp, he started selling his plants.

Greens and Blooms is known for it's anthuriums
Greens and Blooms is known for its anthuriums.

Today, Greens and Blooms is a wholesale business which caters to nurseries across the country.

It was only in August 2020 that the company received its first import, the much-prized phalaenopsis orchid. Slowly, over the next few months, more varieties were added. Today, the nursery has over 100 varieties of ornamental potted plants and exotic flowers. Starting with one acre, the nursery is spread over two acres today, selling over 7,000 pots every month.

Bhausaheb’s positive mindset shines through; after discussing tough times, he promptly shifts to the bright side of the situation. The pandemic also sparked a surge of interest in indoor gardening, greatly benefiting nursery businesses.

“Starting at a difficult time and facing challenges can also be looked at as an advantage. It develops skills and problem-solving nature. Since there was a shortage of sellers, people who managed to sell greatly benefited,” he adds.

While the sales were slow in the beginning, their brand grew through word of mouth, he adds. “Once we get a customer, they keep ordering from us as we offer proper quality, variety, and price,” he adds.

An exotic plant at Greens and Blooms

Savitri Wadhwani of Savi Orchids in Mumbai has been a regular customer of Greens and Blooms for the past year and a half. “I buy orchids, anthuriums and other varieties from them. The quality is outstanding and Mr Navale is a gem of a person. I’m also glad that someone is growing these plants locally. The consistency is maintained and he manages the business with great passion,” says Savitri.

An orchid takes about a year and a half to grow, while anthuriums take around eight to nine months to grow. He sells one anthurium pot for Rs 200 and an orchid pot for Rs 400.

While the company has had sales of Rs 2 crore this year, the founders didn’t draw a salary for the first three years, as it is a heavy investment business. Currently, they have 15 employees.

“We have to continuously invest in the business for facility upgrades, getting premium plant varieties, and maintaining the temperatures to ensure that each plant grows properly. For instance, we recently bought a fan and pad system for our polyhouse,” says Bhausaheb.

Bhausaheb Navale grows exotic flowers at his nursery
Bhausaheb Navale grows exotic flowers at his nursery

“Now, we just draw a salary to meet our household expenses,” he shares.

What then is the motivation to leave a cushy job with a package of Rs 36 lakh? “Satisfaction,” says the entrepreneur, emphatically.

“Whether you run a vada pav stall, a chai shop, or even drive a rickshaw, you will be satisfied the moment you do something of your own. Being your own boss is the best feeling. Whatever you are talented in, if you give your 100 percent, you will be successful,” he says.

Does he feel that the risk was worth it at 50?

“Absolutely. If you have the mindset of thinking about lost opportunities in your career, you can’t find happiness. You will never feel ready to take a risk. Remember though, that some risks beget big rewards,” says the 55-year-old.

Life is beautiful for Bhausaheb, as he tends to his plants in his gorgeous nursery in Pune. It’s all about the attitude at the end of the day, isn’t it?

Edited by Pranita Bhat; Images Courtesy Bhausaheb Navale

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