816 North Business

End of an era for Miller’s Landscape in Parkville

Miller’s Landscape & Lawn Care started out in the early 1960s as a sod business. The Miller family thinks this photo was taken in the early to mid-1970s.
Miller’s Landscape & Lawn Care started out in the early 1960s as a sod business. The Miller family thinks this photo was taken in the early to mid-1970s. Submitted photo

Miller’s Landscape & Lawn Care has been a landmark in Parkville for many years, run by a family whose patriarch was known around town as “Holy Joe.”

He owned a church, after all.

But when gardeners get busy again next spring, they’ll notice a slightly different name on the business: Miller’s Heritage Landscape. The Millers sold their business, at 5956 N.W. Missouri 9, in August.

Heritage was chosen in recognition of the Miller family, said Randy Perdue, general manager of the business, which dates to the early 1960s,

“It is remarkable in this day and age,” he said, “for a business to last so many years.”

But the Millers were working with plants in Parkville before that.

It was almost 70 years ago when the late Joe Jack and Alma Miller established a floral business in downtown Parkville. It was known at the time as the best floral shop in the Northland, said their daughter-in-law Liz Miller, and it was a family affair.

The senior Millers, who moved to Parkville in the 1940s, also had The General Store on Main Street and several restaurants, although not concurrently.

Joe Jack was well known in the Northland, particularly in the Parkville area where he earned the nickname Holy Joe when he bought an old church where the business is now.

Holy Joe, however, often found himself at odds with city government, once over installation of pillar-like hitching posts in front of one of his downtown businesses.

In 1974, a story in The Star described Holy Joe as “not an introvert when it came to controversy.”

In his later years, Holy Joe would place ads in the weekly Platte County Gazette newspaper. They were not want ads, but just his way of connecting with the community. Often he submitted a poem he had written.

In the early 1960s, needing money for college, his youngest son, Joe, with help from family, went into the sod business at the suggestion of his brother Jack, who needed sod for his yard.

Joe’s wife, Sue, ran the business while Joe was in Vietnam in 1970-71. The third Miller brother, Jim, helped by laying sod after work at his regular job.

In 1972, Joe moved the business to the old church on Missouri 9 that Holy Joe owned and bought out his father. Holy Joe’s grandson, Cory Miller, remembers when the church burned down.

By that time, a small nursery had been added as well as Abigail’s flower shop run by Sue. As the business changed from retail to a service industry with landscaping and lawn care, the flower shop closed.

Cory grew up in the business and recalls how his father Joe would give him detailed lists of chores to do.

“I spent summers with a hose,” he said. And he became well-acquainted with shovels.

He confesses to being somewhat of a Tom Sawyer, persuading family and friends to work with him. He also remembers how the group would have to do jobs over until his father’s desired outcome was achieved.

After college, Cory gradually took over the business as his parents retired. The Perdues became partners about two years ago and recently bought out the Miller interest.

“We met on LinkedIn in 2012,” said Randy Perdue, who at that time was a manger of five branches of the largest landscape company in Texas, Bio Landscape.

His son Michael, the new owner of Miller’s Heritage Landscape, was also with the Texas company.

The new owner plans to expand the plant care and maintenance divisions, both commercial and residential, throughout the Northland. Randy, a certified arborist, plans to develop the tree side of the company.

Although Cory has “all kinds” of future plans, his immediate intention is to go skiing at Snow Creek with his young daughters this winter, something he had not had time to do.

Whatever direction the future takes him, it will definitely include family.

“I realize how important it is to work with family — how enjoyable it is.”