Dan Finch has been operating businesses from the family farm in Bailey for most of his life.
Finch Pottery and Nursery offers an eclectic mix of products.
Started more than 50 years ago by Jack Finch, Finch Nursery is now one of the largest and oldest suppliers of blueberry plants in the world, the company’s website states. Dan Finch now runs the nursery, shipping blueberry plants throughout North America.
“My grandfather had the original farm here. It was tobacco, corn, cotton,” he said. “I lease out the crop land.”
On the family-owned farm where he lives, Finch also creates and sells pottery, including stoneware, porcelain, wood-fired, salt-glazed and raku works.
Along with several electric stoneware, raku and salt kilns, Finch has built a custom- designed kiln for firing his 10-foot tall pots. The most recent addition to the kiln yard is a 700-cubic-foot, wood-fired, anagama cave kiln.
“You name it, we make it,” he said. “I’m almost 67. I started doing pottery when I was 21. I was teaching school at Fike High School and they offered a course over at Wilson Tech. I was interested, so I took it and got hooked. I like the creativity of it.”
He also offers pottery classes, throwing miniature pots for children during demonstrations. He is the past director of the N.C. Pottery Center and former president of the Village of Yesteryear at the N.C. State Fair.
“While studying for his bachelor of arts in industrial arts and masters in liberal studies, Dan Finch was exposed to clay,” his website states. “Having worked the land on the family tobacco farm, it was only natural for him to be attracted to the medium. Continuing his pottery education at the Penland School of Crafts, in the mountains of North Carolina, Dan was influenced by Mary Law, Cynthia Bringle, Don Reitz, Jane Peiser, and Bob Turner.”
At an annual event, more than 60 of the potters who have studied in his classes show and sell their functional pots and artistic creations.
The business also makes and sells bluebird houses.
“It’s a nonprofit organization my father started years ago, and we make bluebird nesting boxes and we sell those to promote the bluebirds,” Finch said.
Q: What products or services do you provide?
A: I grow blueberry plants, make pottery and make bluebird houses. Those are the main three things. Plus, I grow some certified sweet potatoes. With the blueberry plants I provide plants to nursery businesses. We’re one of the largest nurseries in the world.
Of course, I make and sell pottery. I also teach pottery one day a week, and we have about 80 to 90 people usually taking pottery classes, adults, all year long. Then we have a big open house on the second Sunday of November and all the potters display their wares.
One of the main things teaching pottery is the camaraderie with all of the people that come here and take pottery, they have similar personalities – people that have a similar interests, so it’s been a good thing that way. It was originally a family farm. I just added to it over the years.
Q: Who are your key leaders?
A: Owner Dan Finch, farm manager Rudy Perry, secretary Cornelia Boykin.
Q: How many people do you employ?
A: Seven full-time employees.
Q: What is your business philosophy?
A: It’s more important to enjoy what you are doing because life is too short otherwise. Everything else is secondary.
Q: What makes your business unique?
A: Being the blueberry nursery for one thing is unique in the area and also the pottery is unique in the area. We sell our pottery to a lot of local people coming through. Plus I take a lot of contract orders. If you work for the N.C. Department of Agriculture consumer service and you retire, you get a Finch bowl.
Q: How has your business grown?
A: It hasn’t gone backward that’s for sure.
Q: What kind of growth do you expect in the coming years?
A: I’m happy if it just doesn’t go backward. I’m doing OK. I think just improving what I have always guarantees growth. Because I’m doing OK, I don’t have a goal any more to grow. I just have a goal to get better at what I do.