THEY are in the business of making dreams come true, but for husband and wife couple – Gerhard and Renette Gerber – opening their garden centre and wedding and conference venue was a dream come true.
Now the owners of one of Nelson Mandela Bay’s most glamorous wedding venues, the Gerbers have come a long way since their days of selling garden ornaments on the sidewalk 20 years ago.
The couple own businesses in Kragga Kamma Road – Garden Lovers garden centre, which they opened five years ago, and Running Waters wedding and conference centre for the past 14 months.
Recalling how their business took off, Gerhard said they met a man who sold garden ornaments in George while on holiday and were fascinated by his business.
“We ordered two cement eagles for our own garden and we spoke to the man – who became our friend – and he said ‘why don’t you try this business’, and so we decided to try it out.
“We started off by selling our friend’s products on the grass area in front of the Engen Garage in William Moffet and then we also sold in front of the Engen Garage at McDonald’s in Linton Grange.
“It became so successful that we opened up a shop in Circular Drive,” he said.
Renette said their dream had always been to open up a garden centre. This was further motivated by her husband, who has green fingers and a keen interest in landscaping.
It was a major shift from their previous careers – Renette worked at a bank and Gerhard was in the army.
“Our dream was always to have a garden centre and it took us 15 years to finally make that a reality.
“Seven years ago we bought this smallholding with the dream of opening the garden centre and two years later we did, with a restaurant, kiddies play area, landscaped gardens and a putt putt course,” Renette said.
It was only after they opened up the garden centre, that the couple decided to build a five-star wedding and conference centre on their property.
“We said we want it to be a five-star wedding venue, or we would rather leave the whole thing,” Gerhard said.
“Since then we have been very successful …we are booked up until May and we have 21 weddings this month. The business has gone way above our expectations.
“It took us 15 years of saving to get what we wanted,” he added.
The couple, who work seven days a week, say they are building their business for their two children to carry on the legacy they have started. Their son, Eben, runs Running Waters, while his parents concentrate on Garden Lovers, although they all chip in when events need to be arranged.
The beautiful landscaped garden, perfect for wedding photographs, was designed and constructed by Gerhard, who has always enjoyed expressing his creativity in the garden.
“My whole life I have been a creative person. I’ve got a passion and love to create beautiful things. We built all the landscaping here ourselves; it took 21 days,” he said.
Both Gerhard and Renette say it is important to be patient in order to have your dreams realised.
“If you dream and reach your dream then it was a real dream.
“People always think they can get instantly rich and they quickly run to the bank to borrow large sums of money, but they must work hard and be patient – their dream will eventually come true,” he said.