EAST PEORIA, Ill. — For Gregory Becks, every day is like a walk in the park. He’s surrounded by thousands of flourishing plants.
“Whether it be a plant or a flower, you’re putting smiles on people’s faces. Okay. I sell emotions plain and simple and that’s what it’s all about,” he said.
For years, Becks has owned Becks Florist. The East Peoria business stems from a long legacy of family gardeners. Becks’ grandmother came to central Illinois from Germany as a truck gardener, ultimately getting married, buying a greenhouse and starting a flower shop.
He explained, “Grandpa went to work for Caterpillar. Grandma started getting the greenhouse ready and everything. They opened in 1934.”
Becks says at the age of just four, both he and his father were taught to tend to the plants.
“Lived in the same house that my dad did as a kid, which is connected right to the business. So I knew how to put little plants into soil in the long benches in the greenhouse at the age of four,” Becks said.
Becks’ father approached him about handling the business operations for Becks Florist when he got out of college. It was an opportunity he jumped at, but approached from the bottom up.
“When you’re dealing with employees, I would rather earn their respect than to be their boss. So by working my way up being even with them—things like that—I got respect,” he said.
Fast forward to 2019, Becks now works alongside a team of about 23 people across a retail and a warehouse location. And while he is still navigating what Becks Florist will look like in the future, he’s hoping to bloom where planted.
He said, “It’s an interesting industry, but it’s so tied to people. People is what makes it all work.”