Vineland, New Jersey
Carol Panco lives out her dream everyday as she grows and sells flowers through C&M Flowers.
Carol grew up on a farm, where she learned her love for flowers from her mother.
Carol began her career in healthcare. She graduated from college with a nursing degree and quickly accepted a job at a local hospital. In 1988, she met Mark Panco, who had been working on a vegetable farm. And that’s when everything started to change.
The couple soon fell in love and in 1992, they married. At first, Carol stayed on at the hospital and Mark continued his work for farmer Eric Hensel. However, Mark quickly grew out of his positions, first as a farm laborer and eventually a farm manager. Anxious for a change, he and Carol decided to open a greenhouse business.
Growing the business
In 1996 Mark and Carol purchased four used greenhouses, constructed a retail shop and began to sell some of their own product. It was at this time that the Pancos began their relationship with Farm Credit. Hesitant at first to borrow money, Mark and Carol reluctantly established a small operating line of credit under the advice of Eric, who had served as a director at Farm Credit East.
In 1998, Carol began working full time at C&M Flowers. By 2000, the business had grown so steadily that the Pancos needed more space. With the financial backing from Farm Credit, they expanded their operation by purchasing 60 acres of ground located one mile from the retail operation. They also formed C & M Flower Growers, Inc., which would house the production and wholesale portion of their business, while C & M Greenhouses would remain as a retail operation.
Thinking back about where they started, Carol is amazed by how far the business has come. “We look at all the different varieties that we have and what we're going to be shipping out that day. And it's amazing that we are able to do all this,” she said.
Expanding the relationship with Farm Credit
While they had been reluctant to take out a line of credit at first, Carol and Mark have had a positive working relationship with Farm Credit since their first loan in 1996.
“Farm Credit understands our business, they know what our challenges are,” Carol said.
The Pancos now have short-term loans, long-term loans and construction loans from Farm Credit. They have even worked with Country Living for support when building a home on the family farm.
“We have a good relationship with Farm Credit. They have been great to work with this whole time,” Carol said.