Started by James Bluemel, his brothers, and father in the early 1950's, “Bluemel’s Tree Service” originally began as a small-scale nursery, run out of their backyard that offered trees, shrubs, and landscape services to the Metro-Milwaukee area. Their mission consisted of 2 key principles; offer quality tree & landscaping services at competitive pricing, and customer service that would be second to none. As simple as this recipe for success seemed, the few businesses in their budding industry struggled to maintain that integrity on a consistent basis. The 'Bluemel Boys' knew they could be the best and sought-out to prove it.
Even though "Bluemel’s Tree Service" was a considerably small operation, it made a huge impact on their customers. Their customer base appreciated the fact that Bluemel’s was a family business that truly valued and cared about every one of their patrons. It didn’t take long before Bluemel’s gained a solid reputation for being one of the premier landscape businesses in Southeast Wisconsin.
Over the years, Bluemel’s has evolved into a multi-faceted company. Eventually James and his wife Gladys took complete control of the business, and in 1966 they purchased some land on Highway 36 and added new departments such as a retail gift store and floral shop to accompany their plant offerings and landscape services. Alas, “Bluemel’s Florist, Garden & Landscape Center” was born. Each new offering gave Bluemel’s a unique identity, and each brought on new successes. There is no question that the successes they experienced can be directly attributed to their complete focus and dedication to the mission James and his family vowed to before they ever stuck a shovel in the ground.
In 1992, the reigns were confidently handed over to their son Mike, the youngest of 6 children. Mike Bluemel proudly carries on the tradition of offering high quality products and unbeatable service. Because of his aggressive and innovative approach, Mike has taken the company to heights nobody imagined and that would surely have made his ancestors proud. To keep up with the always changing industry as well as consumer demand, he has made some pretty exciting and significant changes to the company in the last decade. In 2002, Mike eliminated the tree and shrub department so that he could expand and improve departments that had proven to be more successful or had more potential for profitability.
In 2008, he decided to eliminate the florist portion of his operation in order to expand and improve the profitability of the emerging garden center. That’s not to mention that Mike has also expanded his landscape and lawn maintenance departments tremendously. He has increased his work truck fleet to over 30 trucks. A brand new shopping and office facility that features the historic, century-old South Division "Dome", of whom Mike's mother Gladys is an alumni, was constructed. The list of improvements goes on and on.
In 1998 the Bluemel family had an opportunity to purchase the dome from the antique dealer. Even though the dome had drastically deteriorated over the years, they saw great potential for this dome at their place of business. There was also a sentimental connection given that one of the original owners of Bluemel's; Gladys Bluemel, was an alumni of South Division. Many ideas were considered including making it into a gazebo, but when the Bluemel's decided to construct a new shopping and office facility, it was decided unanimously that making the dome the central focal point of the new building was the obvious choice. Preparations to completely refurbish the dome began immediately following this exciting decision. This task was a challenging and difficult one to complete, but was considered a must.
The refurbished dome once again stands proudly as it crowns our main entrance returning to its former glory for all to enjoy and admire. Gawkers from all around (including out of state) regularly visit Bluemel's just to see this historic treasure as well as view the hundreds of donated South Division memorabilia pieces that include an extensive collection of old yearbooks, photos, sports uniforms, and even a class ring just to name a few of the items. Many alumni stop by just to see if their names (that they deviously snuck up into the dome to sign) are still visible!
Today, the dome represents different things to different people. Many see it as their very own shrine so-to-speak, a symbol of all of the great memories they had while attending South Division back in the day. Some, especially the younger generation, see the dome as a staple of the community having seen it from driving down Loomis Road many times over the past decade. For us, we see it as an example of what we're all about- uniqueness, one-of-a-kind, and rich with history. We invite you to stop by and view this southside gem for yourself. This historic piece of Milwaukee history means so much to so many people and still continues to amaze after all of these years!
Despite all of the maneuvering and changes made to the business over the years, Bluemel’s has now taken on a more simplified and refined identity. The company is now simply known as “Bluemel’s Garden & Landscape Center”. They feature a retail garden center with an impressive selection of home-grown (or what they and their customers lovingly refer to as “Dome-Grown”) annuals, perennials, herbs, rose bushes, and other bedding plants. Their Bulk Department boasts over 35 bulk varieties of landscaping products such as soil, mulches, construction and decorative stone- ready for pick-up or delivery as well as many landscaping materials available in convenient bags. Couple that with a store that provides everything from garden accents and problem-solving chemical applications to gardening tools and birding supplies, and you’ll quickly find why Bluemel’s Is considered one of Southeast Wisconsin’s best kept secrets. The full-service Landscape & Lawn Maintenance Departments offer a wide variety of services ranging from landscape design and installation to lawn cutting and snowplowing. They specialize in commercial as well as residential properties.
Bluemel’s continues to make a long-lasting impact on their customers as well as the garden and landscape industry. The entire staff remains committed to the mission the Bluemel family set forth over 60 years ago. Come see for yourself why Bluemel’s Garden & Landscape Center is one of the premier independent garden centers and landscapers in Southeast Wisconsin!