Ann Pender is as they say, “Mike’s better half.” I’m not too sure about that, I feel she was pretty lucky to get me. It was certainly easier to write about me than Ann. Ann is so complicated; well after all, she is a woman.
It seems like since I do the radio show, and I write the articles, that I get all the credit. Let me try to clear up some of that right now. Ann deserves more credit than I do. She runs the garden center, she runs the lawn care and she runs me. Ann knows all the little details. Ann remembers everything I forget. In all honesty, Ann knows more than I do about horticulture and just about everything else accept maybe fishing and hunting.
One thing that irks Ann is men. Not all men, but these guys that come into the garden center and think they have to talk to a man to find out some information. They may walk past Ann and go over to a male employee and ask them a question only for the male employee to walk over and ask Ann. Have you ever seen the sign put up over a secretaries desk that reads, “Do you want to speak with the man in charge or the woman who knows what’s going on?” That is certainly appropriate in Ann’s case.
Ann is a perfectionist at work. This makes it hard on her because she wants everyone else to be a perfectionist. Classic Gardens would not be what it is today without Ann’s sheer determination, single mindedness and will power. We all owe a debt of gratitude for Ann.
Ann is originally from Niles, Michigan and went to veterinarian school out in Houston, Texas. While in school, her parents came down to Odenville to visit one of their daughters, bought some property and stayed. When Ann finished vet school she also came to the Odenville area. At the time I was living in Ashville with my parents raising horses and cattle. Ann went to work for our vet and that is how we met in February 1979. In February 1980 we were married. As of this February 2001, we have four children ages 12, 14, 16 and 18.
Mike Pender (me) is a native to Birmingham. Born a long, long time ago in a faraway land called Roebuck in the Eastern area of Birmingham, Mike and his family still call that part of town home. After attending 12 years of Catholic School and two years at the University of Montevallo in general studies (not too much on the studies) Mike thought he would be better off working-and has been working ever since. (I should have studied.)
In 1973 Mike got his first taste of landscaping and was employed by one of the largest landscape companies in the Southeast. In 1985 still working for the same company Mike went to night school at Jefferson State Junior College and earned his Associate Degree in Horticulture. Mike was the smartest person to ever go through Jeff State, just ask me. All kidding aside, I’ve been learning ever since. I believe one of the greatest assets all employees at Classic have is that we are not afraid to say, “we don’t know, but we’ll find out.” This is a constantly changing industry and we are constantly attending seminars and read many trade journals to stay current.
Being one of the owners, along with my wife Ann, my duties at Classic include everything from unloading trucks, to cleaning toilets. I usually do most of the vacuuming too. Other than writing articles for the Birmingham News and doing a Saturday morning two-hour radio show, my main responsibility is to the landscaping end of our business. Of course, I stay real close to the lawn care end of our business as well as the retail part of our business. In the springtime on Saturdays, you can find me out in the retail garden center saying hello to old friends as well as new customers.
Personally, I was married in 1980 to Ann. We have four children all delivered at home by me, with Ann’s help of course. Though I love what I do for a living very much, I love my family more and really enjoy taking time off to be with the kids. We fish, hunt, rebuild old jeeps, swim, ski, have other kids over to join in the fun and basically are glad we live in the south where what we do seems to be normal.
My goals for the future are to retire sometime in the next 30 years. In the meantime, I will continue to try to have the best garden center, lawn care and landscape company in town, while enjoying life to the fullest.