Photo by Lucie Monk Carter
“I was only unemployed for two days,” Johnny Naylor joked.
The former owner of Naylor’s Hardware and Garden Center was speaking from his post at Clegg’s Nursery on Siegen Lane. Naylor and seven of his employees joined Clegg’s following the August 2016 floods that put Naylor’s Old Hammond Highway store out of business.
As Naylor recounted, he, his longtime manager Butch Drewes, and Clegg’s co-owners Tom Fennel and Scott Ricca sat down at a table two days after the storm, wet and dirty from cleanup efforts. Naylor’s had flooded and the store had lost eighty percent of its inventory. Two of Clegg’s four locations had also flooded, as had Ricca’s home.
“We all got together on a Wednesday afternoon and just sat at the stable and talked about what we might do,” said Naylor. “We said, ‘We can work out details later, let’s just do it.’ It just kind of went from there.”
Naylor’s, as a True Value Hardware member, had access to vital flood recovery supplies; Clegg’s had stores from which to sell the supplies. It was a match that made good business sense, plus the men had been friends and business colleagues for years.
Six months later, everything is in place for a good spring season at the new-and-improved Clegg’s. Naylor and his crew have been working hard to bring their special expertise to Clegg’s.
Two of the Clegg’s locations, Siegen and Denham Springs, are now full-service hardware stores in addition to maintaining their annual color and woody ornamental inventory. The Greenwell Springs location will be similarly stocked this summer.
Naylor has also brought his successful bulk-seed operation to Clegg’s, offering a large variety of vegetable seeds that have been bought in bulk and repackaged so that customers can enjoy a better price point. All four Clegg’s locations carry the seeds.
Naylor will also be expanding the variety of vegetable and herb plants on offer as well as introducing some unusual perennials. Former Naylor nursery manager Shirley Drewes, known affectionately as “the woman of obscure plants,” has a talent for finding uncommon perennials that grow well in the region. She joined Clegg’s as its buyer.
“I hate to keep telling people this, but I like not being the guy in charge anymore. It’s kind of a relief but it’s given me a lot of freedom to get, more or less, our footprint in their stores,” said Naylor. “We tried to bring the best of what we did and put it with the best of what they were doing.”