As part of Greenhouse Grower’s 25th anniversary, we are profiling people we expect to shape the industry for the better over the next 25 years. Now in its 16th week online, our Ones To Watch series continues with John Bonner of Eagle Creek Wholesale, who was featured in our October issue.
His Job–John is general manager of Eagle Creek Wholesale in Mantua, Ohio. After he graduated from Capital University, where he majored in economics and finance, John entered another family business with his father: realty management. Six years ago, though, his family began constructing its retail greenhouse, and now John manages a separate growing location.
All In The Family–John’s mother’s grandfather founded BFG Supply Company, and John’s father founded Dillen Products. His family, obviously, has enough history in the industry, so it was easy for John to transition into it when the time came several years ago. “The family history made this a natural fit for me,” John says. “There are a lot of people between both sides of the family whom I met over the years, and they’ve helped guide and support me with the knowledge and advice I need.”
Pioneering Practices–Eagle Creek has adapted the philosophy that highly automated processes work better toward costs. John, for example, recently returned from Germany, where he learned more about wind power. “We’re putting our first wind turbine up this month,” he says. “Wind turbines are everywhere in Europe, and I would like to see our business become a model not just in the greenhouse business with energy, but across industries.”
Serious About Sustainability – Eagle Creek started a line of sustainably grown plants this year called Earth’s Choice. The plant line didn’t necessarily sell as John and others had hoped, but it’s an example of his willingness to take balanced risks in the name of sustainability. “We don’t want to say we’re all about sustainability without actually getting down the road far enough and implementing it.”
Twenty-Five Years From Now–As a result of this new energy wave, John believes there might be an opportunity to grow food and flowers in the greenhouse. Personally, he has struck up enough interest in energy to help develop new ideas and see them through.
Why He’s One To Watch–John isn’t afraid to try new practices or learn from failures. Progressive production practices and an interest in sustainability drive him forward, and he’s willing to play a role as a grower in the development of new energies.