When you start your own business, you may have what seems to be a firm idea of what services and products you will provide. However, fate may pull you in other directions and offer some interesting opportunities. As the people behind AaronsHomestead.com can attest, your business can seriously grow if you open yourself to new ideas and possibilities.


Planting the Seeds of a Business

Corco Industries, the company behind the domain, is located in a small Pennsylvanian town called Corry. It was founded in 1996 by Aaron and Julie Kingston as a manufacturing business. They started out with powdering coating, and then Aaron added sheet metal to their production after taking an interest in the material. They later added boxes, and when that led to a military contract, they opened a wood department to fill that need. Then in 2011, according to Corco’s marketing manager Melissa Martin, an unexpected request from a family member moved the business in another, greener direction.

“My Aunt Debbie,” Martin said, “had some health problems where bending down or kneeling in the ground was impossible. She loved to garden and wanted to have something where she could grow … veggies and fruits and she wouldn’t have to bend over.” The story then goes that she could not find anything online to help with that. Knowing that her brother-in-law was good with his hands, she asked her sister, CEO Julie Kingston, if he could build something that enabled her to grow crops and flowers with her disability. Julie and Aaron soon designed an elevated planter box — the first of many to come as part of their new line of accessibility-focused garden supplies, Aaron’s Homestead Products.

It is only natural that family played such a pivotal role here: AaronsHomestead.com is firmly a family business. Aaron Kingston, the namesake of the garden supply line, builds the planters himself. In addition to serving as Corco Industries CEO, Julie Kingston handles sales and events. Their daughter Melissa Martin has worked her way up from “picking up hooks for a penny a piece” as a youth to overseeing the business’s marketing as an adult. Even Melissa’s husband (a veteran of the Marine Corps) is involved: he runs the shop whenever the Kingstons go out to peddle their wares at shows and conventions.

The folks at AaronsHomestead.com are all devoted to the craft of gardening in general, and growing their own food in particular. People commonly associate this practice with large-scale farming, but this family knows better. The truth is that anyone can raise crops and reap them as a meal if they have the right tools and a little knowledge. As shown by Aunt Debbie’s example, that includes people with disabilities, as well as people who do not believe they have much room for gardening. Aaron’s Homestead strives to help others grow their own green thumbs.


Aaron’s Homestead Goes Online

The Kingstons and Martins may be located 30 miles east of Erie, but they wanted to make their gardening products available beyond their corner of Pennsylvania. They initially started an online store with the Homestead site-building platform, formerly owned by Intuit. All seemed to be well for a time. Then, Intuit sold off Homestead Technologies to Endurance International Group, and according to Martin, their services became “terrible.” One notable and alarming incident caused her to distrust their money management systems: “One month, I got another company’s financial info!” Since then, the family has moved the Aaron’s Homestead Products website to Shift4Shop , and they have found the stability and financial privacy that any small business needs.

Moreover, thanks to the abundance of features and services on their new eCommerce platform, their online store is better suited to meet the needs of any visitors. It now runs on one of Shift4Shop ’s highly streamlined Core templates, a series of themes designed not just to give their site a modern look, but also to boost its eCommerce functionality. The code is optimized so that pages can load quickly, and with AJAX implemented, they immediately update to reflect new changes without the need for refreshing. AaronsHomestead.com is also more mobile-friendly (and therefore SEO-friendly) than before thanks in part to the Core template, which is completely responsive in its design and comes with Google AMP for the product pages.

The products of the Aaron’s Homestead line are designed to make gardening easier for people with disabilities. They wanted their website to be just as easy for anyone to use, and Shift4Shop has obliged. A website’s user experience (UX) must be intuitive and simple, as well as compatible with the tools that people with disabilities use to navigate webpages. Otherwise, the site is not just less accessible, but harder for anyone to use. That can dissuade potential customers from completing purchases or outright discourage people from visiting your site, and therefore significantly hurt conversions. AaronsHomestead.com’s UX has been optimized so that all internet users, including people with disabilities, can get through the site without issue.

SEO is also invaluable to a website’s success, and Shift4Shop ’s software provides numerous built-in tools for boosting AaronsHomestead.com’s rankings in search engine results pages. The website made some serious gains just by switching to this platform, and the Core template’s inherent responsiveness and AMP go further towards meeting Google’s standards. They are also using our company’s Technical SEO service, which gives them access to performance monitoring services and lets them take care of aspects like title tags, meta tags, and social media links. In addition to all this, Shift4Shop’s experts have also resolved technical issues, added new pages, and consulted for their new blog, so AHP can fully display their variety of products and services. The site is now far more informative — and far more competitive.


A Bright Future

AaronsHomestead.com continues to sell high-quality gardening beds, folding support cages, and accessories. None of this would have been possible if anyone in the family had closed themselves off to new opportunities. If they had not helped Debbie in her time of need, they would not have started a lucrative line of accessible gardening products. If they had not accepted that military contract, they might not have seen much reason to create a wood department — meaning no Aaron’s Homestead Products. If they had not created Corco at all, none of this would have happened. Instead, this group of versatile people seized any chances that came their way, and the success story of their online store now speaks for itself.

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