In 1998, the company joined the rapidly growing world of e-commerce, launching its first website. Within four years, the site earned a Gold I.Merchant Award
, which recognizes excellence in website marketing. Also in 1998, a 60,000-square foot addition to the Plow & Hearth fulfillment center was constructed. Within two years, we outgrew the space yet again. A second expansion brought the fulfillment center to its current capacity. That same year, 1-800-FLOWERS.COM, a publicly traded company, purchased Plow & Hearth and the growth continued.
The turn of the century marked Plow & Hearth's 20th
year of operation. To keep up with growing demand and ever-increasing industry competition, and to ensure that the company could continue to meet and exceed the level of service customers have come to expect, the fulfillment center was completely re-engineered with state-of-the art materials handling systems. This major upgrade dramatically increased the efficiency, speed and accuracy of the order fulfillment process.
The following year, an additional distribution center in Vandalia, Ohio was acquired to better serve our customers in the central and western states.
Two leading U.S. children's catalogs, HearthSong® and Magic Cabin®, joined our family in 2001. These two brands strive to enrich the lives of children and strengthen family relationships by serving as trusted sources of safe, enduring products that inspire creativity and imaginative play. Their emphasis on tradition, self-reliance and the importance of family has made them worthy additions to the Plow & Hearth family of brands.
In 2003, Plow & Hearth received the Madison Chamber Award, recognizing the company's contribution to economic growth and stability, and our commitment to improving the quality of life in Madison and the Commonwealth of Virginia. Plow & Hearth continues to support the Madison Council for the Arts by contributing time, talent and funding to Concerts in the Park, a series of free summer concerts solely for the enjoyment of the residents of Madison and surrounding counties.
We celebrated our 25th anniversary in 2005 with an outpouring of thanks to the many associates and friends of Plow & Hearth who were an important part of our quarter-century of tremendous growth. Also in 2005, the company acquired Wind & Weather®, a direct marketer of weather-related instruments, gifts and home and garden accents. Like Plow & Hearth, the company markets primarily through catalogs and websites and has attracted a loyal customer base. Wind & Weather moved its operations to Madison in October 2005.
Retail store operations expanded outside the state of Virginia for the first time in 2006. Two new stores opened in Maryland and a third store opened in North Carolina, bringing the total number of retail stores to eight. Plans are underway for continued expansion of our retail marketing effort. With all the expansion in the new century, another distribution center became necessary, so in 2006 Plow & Hearth opened a third distribution center in Reno, Nevada to bring more efficient service to our west coast customers.
In January, 2010 the company was acquired by Evergreen Enterprises, forming Plow & Hearth, LLC. The company's owners, Ting Xu and Frank Qiu came to the US from China when they were in college. They made Virginia their home and started Evergreen in 1993 when Ting and her mother began making and selling garden flags at the Virginia State Fair. Ting and Frank feel they are truly living their American dream and Evergreen Enterprises has grown to become a global manufacturing and wholesale company focused on home and garden décor.
The Plow & Hearth Guarantee
Plow & Hearth had been a customer of Evergreen, so Ting and Frank had some background with the company. They realized that not only are the demographics of the end use customers similar but both companies have similarities in the longevity and dedication of the workforce. Joining two strong Virginia companies allows them to support the local economy and employ the workforce in several communities.
Ting and Frank have strong goals for Plow & Hearth and the associated brands. The top three initiatives focused on by everyone in the organization are providing value to customers through product and service excellence; making the company truly multi-channel by serving customers through our retail stores, catalogs and online; and offering customers the best products for hearth, home and outdoor living in the tradition that has made Plow & Hearth strong for so many years.
As we celebrate our first 30 years of business, much has changed since the first "country store" opened. And though Plow & Hearth continues to grow, we've remained faithful to the core values that have been so instrumental in our growth and success. These include honesty and integrity, treating customers the way we expect to be treated, offering only quality products we would use ourselves, and guaranteeing 100% customer satisfaction with every purchase.