Our Ones To Watch

Our Ones To Watch

Twenty-five years from now, in 2033, the industry could have a whole new look. Will it be more consolidated? Will smaller growers be even more specialized? And, of course, how green will the industry be by then? Only time can answer those questions, but even the next 25 years will need a few leaders to lean on.

So beginning this month, and as part of our 25th anniversary celebration, we’ll identify and profile ones to watch — the industry’s movers and shakers — through November, before reaching our special December issue. We’ll also profile a different person each week in our e-newsletter, Benchrunner, starting this month.

LISA TAKAO

Age – 27
Her Job–As the one responsible for the creative direction and visual identity of Takao Nursery, Lisa sets the overall marketing theme for the company through the company logo, its Web site, annual catalog, newsletters, plant tags and presentations and tradeshow booth displays.
Childhood Inspiration–Part of Lisa’s creativity derives from Shepard Fairey, a graphic illustrator best known for his street art.
Back In College–Growing up, graphic design intrigued her enough that she pursued and obtained a bachelor’s degree with an emphasis in it at Fresno State in 2004. She served as president of the university’s graphic design club and coordinator of the senior portfolio show.
Twenty-Five Years From Now–Lisa says more grower/retailers will sprout on the West Coast, and fewer independent garden centers will exist as owners reach retirement age and their kids opt for different career paths. Coffee and wine bars will, however, be part of the new garden center. “Replacing the independents will be the Armstrong or Al’s model,” she says. “There will be a place for the upper-scale garden center, either owned by a group of investors or families.”
Why She’s One To Watch–Takao Nursery specializes in annuals and perennials as liners, but behind Lisa, it has developed innovative marketing programs to appeal to younger consumers and lifestyle interests to encourage grower customers to do the same at retail. “We try to keep our marketing fresh, unique, colorful and alive,” she says. “I want what we do to make a personal connection.”

ABE and ART VANWINGERDEN

Metrolina Greenhouses

Ages–38 (Abe) and 40 (Art)
Their jobs–Younger brother Abe is president of sales, marketing and merchandising while Art is president of greenhouse operations. Both are co-CEOs.
A Lot Of Labor–With 680 full-time employees, Metrolina is constantly forced to develop new programs to train and retain its best employees. 
Technology-Minded–Over the next five years, Metrolina plans to update ERP, shipping and internal systems. At the moment, Metrolina is adapting its technology to house more customer sales data in order to do better trend analysis and order management analysis.
Twenty-Five Years From Now–The VanWingerdens say the industry will be stronger, more efficient, more consolidated and more involved with home décor than landscaping.
Why They’re Ones To Watch–Abe and Art are leading one of the largest and most successful finished plant growing operations in the country. Metrolina has the largest single facility at 5.2 million square feet, and it excels at serving the box stores and producing plants with the most modern technology. Metrolina should continue to serve as a model for large growers.

RAYMOND BOWDISH
Never Tire Farm

Age–43
His Job–Head grower, head of maintenance and proprietor are some of the hats Bowdish wears at his small greenhouse operation in Lisbon, N.Y.
For The Little Guys–Never Tire Farm may be a small greenhouse operation, but it’s very adaptive. Raymond and his four major employees, who include his wife Megan, have stuck with their plan of becoming a supplier of quality plants while using no registered pesticides. Never Tire Farm relies on biological controls to solve its pest problems instead. “Most people are amazed that fewer than four full-time people can handle such a diverse crop in our little half-acre,” Raymond says.
Keeping It Local–To inform customers that its plants are provided in an area of less than 200 miles, Never Tire Farms plans to customize all of its tags with its location over the next year.
Never Tiring–Away from the greenhouse, Bowdish has been working with the New York Farm Viability Institute to get grants for Never Tire Farm in its quest to eventually use grass pellets to heat his houses. Additionally, he has created an internship program through the SUNY Potsdam biology department that helps Never Tire Farm develop new ideas and deal with labor.
Twenty-Five Years From Now–Carbon footprint reduction of businesses will become the norm as the economics of energy become a bigger issue, Bowdish says. Today’s version of plastic container usage will be replaced by biodegradable pots and prefabricated landscapes that arrive in pallet form with all the irrigation and media needed to grow crops Never Tire Farm sells.
Why He’s One To Watch–Despite its size, Never Tire Farm uses sophisticated technologies and common sense production. The Garden Pallet, which Raymond invented, is the best example of that. “We have developed a system of delivering entire landscapes of bedding plants and perennials, bulbs and many shrubs that are in full bloom and require no site preparation,” he says. “The best part is our program can actually create spaces with no tilling in areas where there were formally green lawns.” 

CHAD CORSO

Corso’s Flower & Garden Center

Age–37
His Job – As vice president, Chad runs the wholesale perennials business at Corso’s in Sandusky, Ohio. 
The Decision-Maker – The challenge of selecting new products to differentiate Corso’s from its competitors is the best part of Chad’s job–and a big challenge. 
Controlling Costs – This year, Corso’s installed several new planting lines that streamline its production and create better work environments for employees. At the same time, Corso’s has purchased two trimming machines to efficiently cut back perennials — and it plans to install pumps to collect runoff and update its structures so that they’re energy efficient.
Reaching Out – Growers need to be more automated, Chad says. “We need to help our employees be more productive by providing the equipment needed to meet production goals. In today’s world, we need to encourage our staff to work smarter — not just harder.”
Quotable–”In order to keep this industry strong, we must continue to bring in new blood. New people will eventually be the leaders, and we need to show them [the industry’s] not all blood, sweat and tears, but rewarding both mentally and financially.”
Twenty-Five Years From Now – Larger growers will still exist, and smaller growers will have opportunities to supply larger growers the niche items needed to have a complete line. Independents will need to be specialized by offering green goods that are unique in design, variety and location. 
Why He’s One To Watch – Corso has grown the family business in perennials over the last 10 years with independent garden centers and Lowe’s. The Stepables line of creeping perennials has been a success for independent garden centers, and the Herb Herbert line of vegetable herbs has been a hit for both independents and Lowe’s.

SUSIE RAKER
C. Raker & Sons 

Age–27
Her Job–Team is a key concept at C. Raker & Sons, and Susie is the team leader of the company’s marketing and product support teams.
Resumé Builder–Besides earning a bachelor’s in horticulture at Michigan State University, Susie has studied horticulture in Chile and worked for Goldsmith Seeds in Gilroy, Calif., and Bachman’s Nursery in Minneapolis.
Organizational Involvement–Susie is involved with OFA, ANLA and MNLA, and she’s an active member of the Generation Next Committee.
Consumer Education–”A lot of my peers are not educated about plants. We need to show them all of the fun and cool stuff that they can do with plants, from growing a vegetable garden to putting containers on a patio,” Susie says.
Trying New Things–One key to the success of C. Raker & Sons is its openness to produce varieties it doesn’t necessarily specialize in. “This attitude and approach has worked out great for our operation,” she says. “We realize that we can’t be everything to everyone, but it has created a special niche for us in the industry because people will come to us to grow their hard-to-grow varieties.”
Twenty-Five Years From Now–The industry will be greatly consolidated. “A lot of that has already been going on,” Susie says. “I think the small, family-owned business will still exist, but it will be reinvented.”
Why She’s One To Watch–As the daughter of Dave Raker, Susie represents the next generation at C. Raker & Sons. She leads her marketing team at California Pack Trials each year, and she’s a key player in an operation that’s dedicated to always improving innovation, service, quality and teamwork.

Leave a Reply

2 comments on “Our Ones To Watch

  1. I’m looking for work in the field, would you have any opening around the places for work. 315 388 4276 can send a resume. have volunteered at the vanderbuilt gardens and poughkeepsie farm project.

  2. I’m looking for work in the field, would you have any opening around the places for work. 315 388 4276 can send a resume. have volunteered at the vanderbuilt gardens and poughkeepsie farm project.

More From Finance/Operations...
University of Florida Online Greenhouse Training Courses

April 25, 2016

University of Florida Offering Online Training Courses For Greenhouse Growers

There will be five courses offered, with the first starting on May 30. Courses are available in both English and Spanish and range from beginner level to advanced education.

Read More
Sanitation programs are essential to preventing and removing food safety concerns.

April 7, 2016

USDA Launches GroupGAP Program For Fruit And Vegetable Growers

The new certification program is designed to help small and mid-size growers, including greenhouse vegetable producers, comply with new food safety regulations.

Read More
Young Plants Farm North Carolina

March 15, 2016

Young’s Plant Farm Obtains MPS-A Qualification

MPS, an organization that develops and manages certification for companies in the horticulture industry, has awarded MPS-A certification to Young’s Plant Farm in North Carolina and Alabama.

Read More
Latest Stories
University of Florida Online Greenhouse Training Courses

April 25, 2016

University of Florida Offering Online Training Courses …

There will be five courses offered, with the first starting on May 30. Courses are available in both English and Spanish and range from beginner level to advanced education.

Read More
Sanitation programs are essential to preventing and removing food safety concerns.

April 7, 2016

USDA Launches GroupGAP Program For Fruit And Vegetable …

The new certification program is designed to help small and mid-size growers, including greenhouse vegetable producers, comply with new food safety regulations.

Read More
Young Plants Farm North Carolina

March 15, 2016

Young’s Plant Farm Obtains MPS-A Qualification

MPS, an organization that develops and manages certification for companies in the horticulture industry, has awarded MPS-A certification to Young’s Plant Farm in North Carolina and Alabama.

Read More
Charlie Hall Feature Image

March 14, 2016

Dr. Charlie Hall Will Offer Keynote Address At Farwest …

The Texas A&M economist will discuss factors affecting short- and long-term demand driving the future of the green industry.

Read More
Seed Your Future Logo

March 8, 2016

Longwood Gardens And American Society For Horticultural…

Under the direction of co-chairs Paul B. Redman of Longwood Gardens and Anna Ball of Ball Horticultural Company, the “Seed Your Future” initiative is designed to combat declining awareness of horticulture while promoting it as a viable career choice.

Read More
Florida Green Industry

March 4, 2016

University Of Florida Study Shows Green Industry Genera…

According to the study, the rise of large retail chain stores with garden departments has made plants and other horticultural products more readily available to consumers than ever before.

Read More
Great Lakes Growers Expansion

February 22, 2016

Great Lakes Growers Expands Its Production Capacity For…

The Burton, OH-based grower has added 25,000 square feet to its operation, helping it to keep up with rising consumer demand.

Read More
National Garden Bureau Logo feature image

February 16, 2016

New Officers And Directors At National Garden Bureau an…

During the ASTA Flower & Vegetable Seed Conference, National Garden Bureau and All-America Selections elected new officers and directors.

Read More
Katherine Wolper

January 24, 2016

Ludvig Svensson Hires Katherine Wolper As West Coast Sa…

Wolper says she looks forward to listening to growers and understanding the concerns, obstacles, and opportunities they face.

Read More

January 20, 2016

Tips For Overcoming Challenges In Family Business From …

Our industry is run by a collection of family businesses, and every one, no matter how big or small, has its share of management issues. But there are several differences between one that is run successfully as a business and one that allows family politics to distract from the organization’s goals. In this year’s State Of The Industry Survey, we noted that labor recruitment and succession are two areas where growers struggle. In talking with the owners of Costa Farms for this month’s cover story, I thought some of the values they have incorporated into the operation’s management structure really stood out as practices that other family businesses could use. The participatory management approach to business and team building is one that Tony Costa, the second-generation owner of Costa Farms, instilled in his children, Maria Costa-Smith and Jose Costa, and son-in-law, Joche Smith, the current owners of Costa Farms. In […]

Read More
I-9 Form

January 13, 2016

Proposed Changes To I-9 Form Important For Greenhouse G…

AmericanHort’s Government Relations and Grassroots Representative Davi Bowen says growers need to become familiar with the new form and should be prepared to make comments if necessary.

Read More

January 13, 2016

Wenke Greenhouses Buys Zylstra Greenhouses

Two Kalamazoo, MI-based greenhouses have merged after Wenke Greenhouses closed on Zylstra Greenhouses at the end of November. The additional property and facilities will allow Wenke Greenhouses to expand its young plant business, among other areas.

Read More

January 13, 2016

Costa Farms Wins With Its Emphasis On Team, Solutions, …

Based in Miami, FL, Costa Farms has gone global by focusing on strategy, systems, and vertical integration. See how the operation continues to expand through its emphasis on team, solutions, and growth.

Read More

January 11, 2016

New Transportation Funding Bill Is Good News For Floric…

According to AmericanHort, perhaps the biggest benefit of the new bill is what it doesn’t include: a proposed amendment that would have prohibited the use of federal funds for vegetative enhancements.

Read More

December 29, 2015

The Home Depot Says No To Neonics

The Home Depot plans to phase out neonicotinoids by 2018, according to a recent statement on the company’s website. The large home improvement retailer stated that its live goods suppliers have reduced the number of plants that they treat with neonicotinoids, and now more than 80% of all flowering plants sold at The Home Depot are not treated with neonicotinoids. The retailer said it will continue this decrease unless: Treatment is required by state or federal regulation, or Undisputed science proves that the use of neonicotinoids on live goods does not have a lethal or sub-lethal effect on pollinators Aside from these exceptions, the retailer has implemented a complete phase-out of neonicotinoid use on live goods by the end of 2018. Meanwhile, The Home Depot has required all of its live goods suppliers to label plants that have been treated with neonicotinoids. “The Home Depot is deeply engaged in understanding the […]

Read More
Gardeners of all ages enjoyed the annual plant sale at McCorkle Nurseries

December 22, 2015

Allan Armitage Explains Why People Will Always Want To …

We may believe that an appreciation for gardening and plants is rapidly draining away, but there is reason to hope.

Read More
Canadian Greenhouse Conference 2015

December 21, 2015

Presentations From Canadian Greenhouse Conference Avail…

Many of the talks that took place at this year’s Canadian Greenhouse Conference in Ontario focused on improving production efficiencies in the greenhouse.

Read More
Sanitation programs are essential to preventing and removing food safety concerns.

December 7, 2015

How The Finalized Produce Safety Rule Will Affect Green…

While the new rule from FDA has many exemptions that will likely apply to greenhouse growers, the reality is that buyers may still require strict adherence to food safety standards.

Read More
[gravityform id="35" title="false" description="false"]