“If growing up means it would be beneath my dignity to climb a tree, I’ll never grow up.”
– J.M. Barrie
Megan Mounteer not only grew up climbing trees; she built magnificent forts among their branches; she went digging in dirt; she recruited playmates among the caterpillars, snakes, butterflies, and ladybugs; she cultivated, planted, watered, and loved many a blooming thing; and more than likely ate some of the weeds she pulled. The only difference between wild-nature-loving ‘child’ Megan and ‘adult’ Megan is that today, instead of building forts she’s building up a business (just between you and me — I think she still secretly builds tree forts).
“For in every adult there dwells the child that was, and in every child there lies the adult that will be.”
– John Connolly, The Book of Lost Things
“I grew up as a little nature baby, rolling in the mud puddles, and running around naked. Megan laughs as she shares her childhood antics. Her smile and bubbly personality are infectious, and it’s certainly not difficult to visualize her as the wild and free child she describes. “I loved nature, loved the plants, and everything about it; I have oodles of pictures with bugs crawling on me, and snakes, grasshoppers, and praying mantis’ in my hair, and I’m all excited. I just loved it. Honestly, I think I was born to be a little flower power child.”
Megan comes from a family of nature lovers and hard workers. She shared that her love for nature, and her work ethic, in part, comes from her grandparents and her parents. “My grandma Sue and my grandpa Rudy were just big nature lovers. When we would go to Michigan [they taught us] about connecting the plants with nature and the overall circle of life and loving nature and the beauty she has to offer.”
Megan’s parents, Bart and Michele, owned a landscaping business (Mounteer Enterprises) so, naturally they recruited their children, and sometimes their friends, to help out — which they gladly did. Megan shared, “Ice-cream, of course, was the first payment. I was down to plant whatever they needed. I was like, ‘Ice-cream? Yes! You just put them [the plants or trees] where you need mom; I’ve got my digger.’ I have five siblings (my two oldest passed away and so now we have Bryce, me, and McKenzie — I’m the middle) and I remember mom and dad, when they had big plant-up jobs, they were like, ‘Okay, guys get your friends. Get ‘em all involved…’ Ice-cream was included so we’d round the troops up. Play dates became planting parties. If I didn’t have that at such a young age I don’t think I’d be where I am today.”
Today, Megan and her brother, Bryce, have taken over the family businesses. Bryce is over BCM Landscaping and Snow Removal and Megan runs Country Gardens and Nursery. Their sister McKenzie (who is still in college) also has entrepreneurial ideas of her own; she’d like to run an all women excavating business with all pink equipment — This is definitely a family of hardworking go-getters — and maybe an overachiever or two. Megan shared, “We always had a garden growing up and I remember this one year I grew this massive zucchini. My mom and dad were like, ‘I don’t think it’s eatable at this point.’ I told them, ‘That’s not the point. I just wanted to see how big I could get it.’ It was like the size of my thigh! I was like Yay! This is awesome!’ It [the zucchini] definitely made it in my books and that was all I needed.” Megan definitely learned how to get things done; she is happiest when she’s moving and doing. “I’ve never been one that can sit inside and just be comfortable there. I always had to be outside exploring, learning, touching, feeling, smelling, all that. And so, I think that the passion just grew with me, whether I knew it then or not, what I was going to do [owning/running the nursery]; I think the journey was already headed in that direction.”
“If you tend to a flower, it will bloom, no matter how many weeds surround it.”
– Matshona Shliwayo
I once saw a poster of a dandelion in seed; some of the seeds were blowing off in the wind — the saying scrolled across stated, ‘Weeds or Wishes’ — I believe this is a great way to look at life. We can look at our experiences the same way; as adversity or opportunity. Megan’s life, like all of us, has seen its ups and downs; it’s what we do with the downs that make us stronger. Megan struggles with dyslexia, and while that has its own set of challenges it also opened the door for opportunities. Megan attended Soldier Hollow Charter School which was the perfect setting for her; they were very much about hands-on learning, nature, and being in and learning about our environment. Reading may not have been her strong suit growing up, but she excelled in other areas like the science of nature, how things work, communication, humanities, and art. In fact, in third grade she won Soldier Hollow’s Arbor Day Art Contest. “It was one of my big moments where nature and my creativity came together. I was like, ‘Whoo-hoo! Success! I may not be doing too well in the grades but by darn the art projects are going good!’” When asked what her painting was of, she explained, “It was really fun growing up, but I didn’t have a lot of neighbors or kids around me, so that always forced us [my siblings and I] to go out and across the street. There was a lake in front of us and we were always building this tree fort over there and adding on to our little hut that we were creating. My drawing was of all the things that made our fort terrific. It was basically celebrating all of the joy that I had growing up in our hut.” Megan was one of the top three winners in the state and still remembers the theme: Trees are Terrific and Energy Wise. A theme she still loves and agrees with as she talks with her customers about the importance of trees in our mountain landscapes.
Megan attended college to be a sign language interpreter but discovered that was not for her. So, she decided to become a pilot. After finishing her solo flight she had an opportunity to pursue flying as a career; however, when the choice came to either dive in or pull out — she went a different direction. Holding back her emotions Megan explained, “Family is super important to me; because of the time you have to be on the plane and the hours you have to be away from home — it just wasn’t something that I felt like, in the long run, I’d be happy with. So, I kind of reeled back and asked myself, ‘Okay, as far as your future, what makes you happy, where do you go with this?’ And, from there I went into ‘I’m going to start my own landscaping business.’”
Megan started her own landscaping business, Blue Sky Beauties, with her best friend, Sydney. The two of them hit the ground running and their business took off. “There was a lot of success and a lot of learning at the same time. We both loved it. There’s something so gratifying about watching it [the business] grow and be able to create something more beautiful, more colorful, and help others create, it was just everything that I was looking for.” The business was growing fast, but then a pretty big ‘weed’ popped up!
Several years after running Mounteer Entreprises, Megan’s parents decided to also open a nursery to help supply product for their landscape jobs — this ‘idea’ turned into Country Gardens and Nursery. Megan’s smile is huge when she explains the evolution of the family business, “We started with the idea that we would do this business for the landscapers, but then people from the community started coming out and visiting us to see what we had. It was one of those situations where it was a blessing in disguise. It’s interesting how life lines things up and how your path is created, and you just never know how or where it’s going to go, but you get there; and we just loved working with our community and neighbors.”
As life would have it, just as Blue Sky Beauties was taking off, the property Megan’s family leased for the nursery was sold. They were given one year to find another place or pack-up and close their doors. After looking for property, crunching numbers, and doing everything in their power to keep the nursery open; things didn’t look good. Bart and Michele had to make the very difficult decision to close their doors; however, when they made the announcement — a solution was presented. Megan described how it all fell in place, “We went to the city and told them, ‘We’re so sorry, but so thankful for the time that we did have, but we are closing doors … The city said, ‘Hold on a moment. You’re the only nursery in Heber and we don’t have anything else like you guys. There is a property that is kind of unique and we think you might fit in nicely … we looked at it and were like, ‘Yes, if this works we would love to have this space.’ So, we are involved with the city and the airport and are super appreciative for both parties to lease us this spot.” Megan’s voice is full of gratitude and pride as she continued to share, “And from there — we just created this masterpiece. My team has worked their booties off and I couldn’t be more thankful and just grateful for them being here because I couldn’t do it without them.”
Megan had a great way of expressing how to deal with the ‘weeds’ in our lives and just ‘bloom’ where we are, “I believe if you focus on where your joy and your passion is then success will come; that’s what I have felt and experienced in my own life.”
“It takes courage to grow up and become who you really are.”
– E.E. Cummings
Megan has had a lot of great life experiences in her 26 years (yep she’s a young ‘un!) that have prepared her for taking hold of the reigns and successfully running Country Gardens and Nursery. She spent her after-school hours at the nursery, watering the plants, assisting with custom planting, helping customers, and myriad of other responsibilities. “Growing up, I was in and out of the business constantly.” It seems perfectly reasonable that she would naturally grow from helper to owner, but she says she does sometimes get the occasional raised eyebrow, “People look at me because I am young and it’s sometimes intimidating, but at that moment of realization, I think, ‘Show them who you are and they will be impressed.’ I believe age is not everything and if you always put your best foot forward then you’ve got no regrets in the end.” Megan does put her best foot forward and in doing so she attracts the best of the best. Megan had to hold back the flood gate of emotions as she spoke about her team, “As far as the people who are helping me to be successful, I do have to start with my parents. They have done everything; honestly I wouldn’t be who I am today, shaped the way that I am, if it wasn’t for them and the things that they did. It’s funny, sometimes my parents talk about feeling bad because they were so busy with work, but I’m like, ‘No, at that moment you showed me that you were there to provide for the family, even when times were tough, you still were out there grinding and getting the work done, and still would make time for family.’ At the end I would not change it for anything because I am so proud of who I am today, and my parents structured that.”
Megan continued, “The next one would be Johnny. Johnny would be my right hand man for sure. When he first came here from Columbia, he could hardly speak English, but we instantly had this really fun connection. I believe if you give people the time you will understand what that person is saying, but if you’re not willing to give it time, then you’re missing an opportunity to connect and help each other.” Megan also shared, “When I got to know Johnny deeper, I found out his background and where he came from and his story, and it blew my mind. Johnny is just incredible and it has been a joy for both of us to grow together. For him to teach me what he has and for me to feel valuable in his eyes with my age … he tells me all the time, ‘Megan, you have it. I know you have it – I’ve never seen anybody who cares and talks to people the way that you do.” Megan covers her heart with both hands, and continues, “We had this gem this whole time, but because individuals did not take the time to hear or listen he could not shine.”
Megan genuinely loves her entire team. (I wish I could include everyone she spoke about — I suggest taking a walk through the gardens and getting to know them.) Of her team Megan says, “I think there’s something with our team that is unique; we feel like family, where we hug, we tell each other we love you, where there is something that is deeper than the surface from a typical work relationship. It’s not just one person, but a combination of coming together and an understanding of, yes, this is my job, but yet this is my family. As a family owned business, it’s a realization that they are our extended family.” Megan feels that letting each team member ‘shine’ is important, “There is so much power, from both parties, when people are where they want to be; when they are encouraged to create, and grow.”
Growing takes courage; sometimes we doubt ourselves, Megan has had her share of doubt too. “A lot of people ask me if this [running the gardens and nursery] is all I want. I’m like, ‘Yes, yes this is something that I am very passionate about.’ In the end, though, they can see it. I think that is also a good realization for me — that they truly see it — because sometimes I do question myself. ‘Am I good enough? Can I do this?’ The answers do pop up and I can see the success from my actions and the positive feedback.” Her advice to young entrepreneurs and everyone really, is, “Don’t be afraid. Find what you love and go for that. You won’t be disappointed. Don’t get discouraged if feedback seems negative. I always say, ‘Ceaseless Improvement’. If it’s not your best work then take that opportunity to grow from that — don’t be down on yourself — even though it may be hard to grow – remember, everybody is learning. It’s important to understand that you can never make everybody happy and don’t let that hold you back. Just always give it your best so there are no regrets. And, if your best was not enough for someone don’t let it hurt you. Let that one go, learn from it, and move forward knowing that more success is coming.
“Be not afraid of growing slowly; be afraid only of standing still.”
– Chinese Proverbs
Over the past two years, Megan has experienced both flashes of failure and moments of getting everything “perfect and spot on”. She shared what she’s learned, “It’s easy to pick out all the bad — what’s hard is moving forward from where you are at and figuring out where you want to be. In my opinion, if you have a solution oriented mindset then you will find that things naturally flow. I appreciate that I will always find things to work on and improve.”
Megan has about as many ideas of working and improving as there are vegetables in a community garden. One of her next big endeavors is starting up a non-profit organization that will help create housing opportunities for her employees. As Wasatch County continues to grow and expand there is a concern that many who work here can’t afford to live here. “We’ve been talking with Restore about their home building programs, and looking into what that would look like for us. I’d love to work with other businesses and non-profits; I think that it’s an opportunity for a really beautiful moment to come together and create something unique and amazing. I don’t want anyone to feel like once their lease is up they have to move or have nowhere to go.”
Speaking of going someplace … Megan wants Country Gardens and Nursery to be more than just a place to purchase amazing plants and flowers; she wants the gardens to be a place for the community to come and gather. “We are creating more classes for the community to be involved in and are expanding our outreach to kids and teenagers. I believe the younger generation is the most powerful generation because that is what’s to come. I think it is super important to connect with them; offering fun interactive classes and getting them involved with hands-on gardening and Mother Nature is a beautiful way to make that happen.” Remember the garden of ideas? Well … I’m going to take the proverbial deep breath and try to get them all into one paragraph.
Here we go! For the younger kiddos, Megan wants to start holding book readings in the mornings; while the older kids are at school. But, mind you, this is Megan we are speaking of — this won’t be any old book reading; this will be a book reading combined with a petting zoo! She’s also been in cahoots with Paws for Life and developing classes where they will come and talk with kids about dog care and dog walking. They’re also looking at working with Nuzzles. Remember it’s all about connections and connecting businesses with community members. Megan also has plans to work with Midway Mercantile, Midway Farms, and OG Café; the idea is to sign up for a class ($10) with CGN, head over to the farms and pick your fresh produce, then come back to the gardens where Midway Mercantile’s chef will use your produce to cook you up a meal; or just head over when OG is there and enjoy their delicious cooking while visiting and wandering the grounds. Megan also wants to create a smaller version of a farmer’s market by inviting budding artists to come and create, display, sell their wares, and ‘let customers connect with their work’. She’d especially love to work with high school students and young entrepreneurs teaching them all about the how-to’s of business. She says, “I have the space to do that. There are so many students who are painters, jewelry makers, sculptures, wood artists; they’re even growing plants! I’d just love to give them the opportunity to work with a store, price their pieces, figure out what the store is taking from that, and basically get their foot in the door. There’s nothing like that in the high school — I’d like to do that for them.” Megan also wants to offer the same services to local artists who are small and just getting started. Her list goes on but I do have a word count to adhere to folks, so, I suggest giving them a call or taking a look at their website for up and coming events and classes. (Hint: There’s going to be a fun family event in October.)
Megan understands all good things take time and she’s prepared to give each project the time it needs to be done well, but, in the meantime, she is definitely not standing still! Even with all of the many things she’s working on, one of Megan’s favorite parts of her job is going out and helping people plant their yards and gardens. “I enjoy being a personal gardener. I love to plant and help others plant. I love the relationships I have with the customers. At first they’re like, ‘Oh, you’re a young buck, but let’s see what you got.’ It’s always such an honest, genuine experience; we always end up laughing and it’s so fun when they see you back at the nursery. I think it’s really important to create those bonds. Usually, when you walk into a store, you don’t meet the owners. I think it’s fun to see people’s reactions when they make the connection. They’re like, ‘Oh my gosh! You’re the owner? Wow!’” Megan shared that some customers have told her that, “They want to come back because of the vibration of the nursery, the feel of it, and not just the product of the nursery.”
“We Grow Love Here”
– Megan Mounteer
At the end of the day, Megan’s goal is, “… not only to be the number one nursery in the Wasatch Back, with the number one customer service, but I want it to be above and beyond what you’ve ever seen before. I want us to be the site that people are traveling near and far to come and see what we are all about. I want people to come in and get excited because of the bubbly vibe that the team puts off — it’s like this — love bubble I call it — we grow love here! We want our customers to know that they are important to us. We want them to know that we’ve got their back and that we are going to do everything in our power to make sure they have the best success on whatever their project may be. We want to show the customer: we got you, don’t worry, lean on us, let us assist you, come to us with the questions, and let us make you feel comfortable in this field the way that we are comfortable in this field.”
In my opinion, that’s pretty impressive, and others are taking notice too. Megan was hesitant to share (an employee urged her on); Megan was recently nominated for a 21 and Over award. Nominees are people in their 20s who are doing unique, creative, things within their businesses. Megan blushed and shared, “It’s hard for me to talk about because I’m like, ‘Is that really something that I am worthy of?’” I think Megan’s statement at the end of our interview proves she is: “It all goes back to one thing. How can I leave an impact on everyone around me?”
Megan is leaving an impact and along the way she is helping others leave an impact too. I believe we can all learn a little something from our home-grown Heber Valley flower-power child when she says, “I know that I’m not perfect — I don’t think that I ever will be — but I will always be improving and I will always shoot for the moon and if I hit the stars that’s okay too!”