This Dallas family business went from building floral displays at big events to fixing up homes
Nick and Taylor Thurmond found a sticky note in their mailbox last April offering to buy their home in Lower Greenville, Dallas. This little piece of paper was used to keep a family business alive during the coronavirus pandemic.
It laid the foundation for how a company with a rich Dallas heritage can escape a health crisis that has engulfed many other businesses.
The family business, now called Nitsche, is known as an event construction company with a rich heritage in Dallas. According to family members, the company founded by the German immigrant Ernst Nitsche started as a flower shop around 1887. The family initially sold flowers grown on their Dallas farm under the name Nitsche’s Flower Store, the first flower shop to be counted in the Dallas Census, according to the family.
The company changed direction in the 1970s when Virgil Thurmond, Nick’s father, converted it from a florist to an event and trade fair business and renamed it Nitsche Convention Florist. Since then, the main family work has consisted of building kits and outdoor design for events such as the State Fair of Texas and traveling around the country for other similar large-scale events.
When COVID-19 put the events business into hibernation, the Thurmonds had to find other ways to make money.
“In February it was 100 to zero incomes,” said Nick Thurmond, part of the fifth generation of family members involved in the business. He owns it with his father. Taylor, Nick’s wife, also works for the family business.
Fortunately, the family had a background in construction. And they had a head start: the sticky note.
Nick and Taylor had been renovating and making minor improvements to their own homes for a number of years. While living in their first Dallas home – a duplex they owned while renting out the other half – they decided to buy the house next door when it came on the market.
They found the note in their mailbox three or four months after the renovation. The Thurmonds realized that they could bring the company’s existing construction know-how to the housing sector.
The Thurmonds converted this former maisonette at 5917 Vickery Boulevard into a single family home. (Ave Smith)When the Thurmonds are renovated, they core out an entire house and reassess everything, from installation to layout to exterior appearance.(Ave Smith)
Side hustle and bustle to the main hustle and bustle
In June, they bought a two-unit maisonette on Vickery Boulevard in Lower Greenville under the company’s name. The Thurmonds had the skills necessary to completely redesign the 1950s construction and set about converting it into a single family home with four bedrooms, three bathrooms.
The Thurmonds say they hate the term “turn houses” because it evokes the idea of slapping new countertops, adding color, and calling it a day. Instead, when they renovate, they remove the core from an entire house and reassess everything, from the installation to the layout to the external appearance.
They worked with Amy Sack of Compass Real Estate to find and acquire the properties. On December 30th, with Sack’s help, they completed a sale of the Vickery Boulevard home. Nick and Taylor said it was their first sizeable paycheck since February.
“When your sideline becomes your main occupation overnight,” said Taylor of the choice they were faced with.
Since then, Nitsche has acquired a second piece of land on which the Thurmonds will be built from scratch. Nick and Taylor own some of their own separate properties from the family business and are also building their own homes.
The redesigned house on Vickery Boulevard, originally built in the 1950s, is now a four bedroom, three bath single family home.(Ave Smith)The house at 5917 Vickery Blvd. sold on December 30th.(Ave Smith)
On the company’s future, the couple said they weren’t sure how this year would play out. And they agree with that.
The company has already survived a pandemic – the infamous 1918 Spanish flu that infected 500 million people. In a 1970 article in the Dallas Morning News, Nick’s grandfather Richard Thurmond was quoted as saying that the family’s flower shop had peaked during this pandemic.
Nick expects residential construction to become an integral part of the 134-year-old family business.
“It has been a natural and welcome change that will continue regardless of what happens,” he said.