April 2, 2021—At National Oil and Lube News, we're always writing about how to maximize different parts of the quick maintenance business, adding and dropping services and profit centers as needed.
A recent interview with Barry Peel Jr., co-owner of Peel's Pit Stop in Celina, Ohio, revealed a surprising side hustle that lies just behind the two-bay shop. It's a large greenhouse, where Peel Jr., and his wife, Janice, will be raising beautiful flowers and pumpkins, depending on the time of year.
“I was selling bales of straw, and I found a greenhouse was cheaper to put up than a building to store my straw in. and it just kind of mushroomed,” Peel Jr., says.
Peel Jr. says that he learned his skills in the 80s during high school, when he worked at an open air produce market in Detroit. That was also when he first started to catch interest in the nearby auto shop.
“I was in high school, so i would go up and watch the guys in the shop," he says.
Fast forward years later, and the Peels run their own quick lube, which they acquired in 2001 (stay tuned for an upcoming Shop Look feature with the store). They operate in Celina, which is an important hub for a bustling regional agricultural industry. You can tell by the mix of customer vehicles in the shop.
“I do a lot of farm trucks," he says. "We do more pickups than we do cars, by far."
He was storing straw for sale in a pop-up carport out back before he and Janice ultimately decided to go all in with a greenhouse. It's been a great complement with the oil change business. It might be one of the most unique customer waiting areas in the industry.
"They’ve gotten to the point now where they will get the car in and get out and look for flowers when they’re changing the oil,” Peel Jr. says.
Many of the flower varieties come from area Amish communities. But the real eye-catchers are in the fall.
“We specialize in prize-winning pumpkins," Peel Jr. says. "Ones that are couple hundred pounds or more.”
Photos courtesy of Barry Peel Jr.