Semrau family honored for 99 years of business

By: Kevin Bunch | Roseville - Eastpointe Eastsider | Published February 25, 2015

 The Semrau Garden Center will become Drews Garden Center in the coming months, as the owners sold the 99-year-old family business to retire.

The Semrau Garden Center will become Drews Garden Center in the coming months, as the owners sold the 99-year-old family business to retire.

Photo by Deb Jacques


EASTPOINTE — The Eastpointe City Council issued a proclamation during its Feb. 17 meeting to thank the Semrau family for owning and operating Semrau Garden Center, following the sale of the long-standing store after nearly a century of business.

Co-owners Jim Semrau and Karen Regan were on hand to accept the proclamation — their brother Dan Semrau did not attend — in a ceremony that Regan said was special for them.

“It’s a very sad day for everybody in the city of Eastpointe, but we wanted to show our appreciation for the Semrau family for everything you did for the city over the past 99, 100 years,” Mayor Suzanne Pixley said.

Jim Semrau worked in the greenhouse growing plants, while Regan worked as the store manager. Their brother, Dan Semrau, handled orders and plants that could not be grown locally. The three of them have been working with the business their whole lives, like their father before them.

“The business was started in 1916, our dad was born in 1919, and dad was there — he passed away when he was 90 — he was there for 90 years, except for three years when he was in the Navy during World War II,” Jim Semrau said. “I was born in 1951, and I was there my whole life.”

Regan said she first heard from Councilman Ron LaForest about a proclamation shortly after they sold the business in early January. The three owners decided mutually to sell the store due to one simple fact of life: time.

“We’re all getting older,” Regan said.

With Jim Semrau as the youngest sibling at 64, the three of them felt it was a good time to retire. Regan said having Drews Garden Center come in to purchase the business and take it over made them all feel better about making the sale, and the siblings are doing their part to ensure a smooth transition.

“We’re right there; we’re helping,” Regan said. “Some of our former employees are going to be working there … so there will be a lot of familiar faces for anyone shopping there, which is good, too.”

Beyond that, the siblings do not have any concrete plans for their retirements, other than to spend more time with their respective grandchildren.

According to the proclamation, Robert Semrau founded the business and sold vegetables before adding flowers to the mix. His son, Bob Semrau, took over from him eventually, and his children — the three siblings — succeeded him. Their kids helped run the store, too, but never took it over outright.

LaForest said that all the plants purchased at their store have become “pillars of the community,” from the trees purchased as saplings decades ago to rosebushes throughout the city.

“Even when you’re gone, the memories are still going to last on, and still continue,” he said.