Rose and Grafton Mangum built a greenhouse at their home in Langley Park, Md. and later established Mangum Florist in Silver Spring, Md.
Daughter, Lola Mangum Bell bought the florist, renamed it Bell Flowers, and moved to its current location on Georgia Avenue.
Bob and Shirley Mangum purchased Bell Flowers from Bob’s sister, Lola, after Bob served in the Marines.
Bob & Shirley opened a second Bell Flowers location in College Park.
Bob and Shirley Mangum established Creative Plantings, one of the nation’s first, and ultimately largest interiorscape service providers.
To increase buying power and get in on the ground floor of what Bob & Shirley felt was a coming tropical plant boom, the Mangum’s established Interior Plant Distributors (IPD), a first of its kind 35,000 square foot retail houseplant mega center in Rockville, Md. The Washington Post ran a front-page article and thousands of customers purchased hundreds of thousands of plants over many years.
Gary Mangum (son of Bob and Shirley) went to work doing plant maintenance for Creative Plantings while in college in the Baltimore area. Bob and Shirley’s son-in-law, Mike McCarthy, also began working with the company while in college.
Bob and Shirley Mangum purchased property on Bell Road in Burtonsville, Md. and began construction of the future Bell Nursery. The business was initially established to help satisfy the potted plant and floral needs for the Mangum horticultural businesses.
Gary terminated by Bob; Gary blames too many late nights.
Gary and Mike joined Creative Plantings – Gary in sales, Mike in operations – and helped grow the business to the fourth largest interiorscape firm in the country, beginning a long-term partnership that remains solid today.
Bob and Shirley Mangum purchased a farm strategically located in Marydel, Md., a very rural area located in the center of the New York to Virginia triangle.
Gary and Mike purchased Bell Nursery and began to focus on growing great annuals that offer “Instant Impact” in the landscape. Gary focused on sales and merchandising side of the business, while Mike concentrated on growing operations and finance. At the time, Bell had about 100,000 square feet of greenhouse production at the Burtonsville location.
In search of new customers, Gary visited box stores and discovered potential to improve product quality and service. Invited Home Depot merchant to Burtonsville facility to see Bell plants first hand. Impressed with what he saw, the Home Depot merchant, Vinnie Naab, offered Bell an opportunity to test 100 New Guinea impatiens hanging baskets. They sold out in a day.
1997 / 1998
Additional 200,000 square feet greenhouse growing space added in Burtonsville.
Bell Nursery trademarked the phrase “Instant Impact”, which it began using earlier in the decade to describe the effect of full, colorful Bell flowers in a landscape.
Gary’s brother, Dale Mangum, purchased Bell Flowers from Bob and Shirley. Dale’s son, Chad, manages it today.
Launched Growers Network with first Maryland farm family. Added almost a dozen farms in first two years.
Bell Nursery awarded 100% of color shelf space at 13 Home Depot garden centers. Reached 21 farms in Grower Network overseeing 13 acres of greenhouse flower production.
Bell Nursery became single source supplier to Home Depot for annuals, perennials to 54 stores in Maryland, Delaware and Virginia., and increased to 65 stores over the next year. More than 70 farmers inquired about joining the Grower Network.
Bell Nursery increased Home Depot relationship to 88 stores served, adding parts of Pennsylvania. Increased Growers Network to 32.
Bell Nursery acquired Ulery Growers in Springfield, Ohio adding more than 15 acres greenhouse, and 10 acres field production. Began serving additional 34 Home Depot garden centers in Columbus, Dayton and Cincinnati.
Bell Nursery acquired Virginia Growers, adding more than 9 acres greenhouse, and 6 acres field production. Began serving additional 47 Home Depot garden centers in southern Virginia and parts of North Carolina.
Bell Nursery became one of the first commercial growers in the country to earn Veriflora certification for demonstrated commitment to “delivering only the highest quality products, produced with rigorous environmental accountability while at the same time addressing the health and well-being of workers, their families and communities,” from seed to store.
In partnership with Home Depot retail centers, recycled more than 150 tons of plastics pots and trays from nearly 200 Home Depot stores. Opened new distribution facilities in Elkridge, Md., and Newark, Del.
Became the first large grower nationally to eliminate neoniconitoids from its integrated pest management toolbox, as it was feared they could possibly harm bees. Many other growers have since followed this example.
Stepped up our sustainable practices, with 8 years as a Veriflora Sustainably Grown certified grower and a five-year total of 2.7 million pounds of material recycled through our facilities. The Elkridge and Burtonsville facilities operated on 100% wind generated power for the fourth year and we began our second year of beekeeping, as we searched for answers to large-scale bee loss in a neonic-free environment.