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Family Owned Business Awards

Apgar Turf Farm

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Taylor and Donna Apgar. | DBT PHOTO BY LUIGI CIUFFETELLI

Founded: 1976

Generations: Three

Employees: 8

The Apgar family knows its grass.

Apgar Turf Farm grew from a lawn care business in 1976 to a 250-acre field specializing in quality sod installations for residential and commercial properties.

Their philosophy is “We won’t sell sod to our customers if we wouldn’t install and use it ourselves.”

The family-owned business is multigenerational: founder Arnold Apgar’s son, John, began working with him and eventually added a 7-acre field. That small sod farm turned into 70 acres, then 200. Apgar Turf Farm’s reach now extends beyond Smyrna, with jobs throughout Delaware and surrounding areas.

Nearly four decades after Apgar Turf Farm’s inception, John’s son, Taylor, who grew up working on the farm, joined full-time in 2015 after graduating from York College.

Taylor said the ability to quickly adapt is what makes the family business so successful. When the recession hit, sod wasn’t doing well residentially so they pivoted to commercial installation.

They also dropped an acreage of sod to grow grain.

“We take what the market gives us and find a way to make it work when things are tough,” Taylor said.

The COVID-19 pandemic planted a seed of opportunity for a surge in business, as families spent more time at home, resulting in a rise in home improvements like lawn care. Apgar Turf Farm has grown through its website, but referrals and word of mouth still provide a bulk of projects.

The labor shortage has also been tough recently, but Apgar Turf Farm still prides itself on employing a diverse workforce, and its sales have grown in the past two years.

Taylor is poised to take over the family business. Little by little, he gets handed more responsibilities every year.

He’ll continue Apgar Turf Farm’s legacy of supporting local causes. The family hosts University of Delaware agriculture students at the farm, providing on-site tours, demonstrating sod production and educating them on working in the industry. They’ve also donated their product or financial support to baseball and softball fields as well as organizations like Habitat for Humanity and Bless Our Children.

One of Taylor’s favorite jobs involved donating and installing sod for the Smyrna Firehall.

“That meant a lot to me,” Taylor said. “It’s on my way home every day, so it’s nice to see it.”

 

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