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Made in Idaho: Franz Witte Garden Center turns 50

Posted at 8:49 AM, Jun 03, 2021
and last updated 2021-06-03 10:59:30-04

IDAHO — If you know anything about Treasure Valley nurseries, then you probably know these four words: Franz Witte & pink flamingos. Raised on a farm in Weiser, Franz Witte came to Boise for school and to learn a thing or two about business.

"Actually, I had a friend we started the company with and we did it as a summer job, and I told him, 'every summer, we're going to make $10,000 this summer,'" said Witte.

The budding landscaping business started in Witte's Boise Bench home before moving out to State Street in West Boise. You might be wondering why name a business after yourself?

"Well, I just didn't know anybody I liked better at the time."

Franz Witte can joke about it now, but the unique name and pink flamingos have become a marketing dream. The idea of having pink flamingos started on a whim.

Flamingos

"Within two or three weeks, if you went within a five-mile radius of the nursery or in a grocery store in line or in a restaurant, people were talking about those foolish birds. I just blew up we tried to quit ten years ago and couldn't."

It's a good thing they didn't because those foolish birds are more than just a marketing ploy. They're a sign of home.

Witte grows emotional recounting the story of local airmen deployed overseas.

"CNN was interviewing the Mountain Home guys and in the background were the birds. Apparently, their wives had sent them some and I don't know why I get choked up, but it's an interesting story."

Now he's celebrating his 70th birthday and 50 years in business in the Treasure Valley at his brand new location at Chinden and 11th Ave North.

"My dad lived to be one hundred years, 101, actually, and I was across the field, and I said, 'Oh God, I wish he was here. He would love this place. I wish the old man was here.' I took three steps and said, 'you are the old man.'"

Nothing but smiles for this old man because Franz Witte has a lot to be grateful for, including those pink flamingos.

Flamingos