Young Leaders At Tagawa Greenhouses

Tagawa- Crist and Westlund
Research and development manager Kara Crist, (left) and range grower Mallory Westlund.

Tagawa Greenhouses’ has recently taken steps toward improving its operations, which largely involved expanding and improving its production team. The production staff is now made up of many individuals from the younger generation, some of which were hired after completing Tagawa’s internship program. Meet some of the young, talented individuals who have worked their way up to management roles before the age of 30.

Charlie McKenzie, Production Manager

Charlie McKenzie joined Tagawa in August 2013 as the assistant production manager, after having worked for the company as an intern through the Vic and Margaret Ball Scholarship Program.

“I had never worked in a greenhouse before,” he says. “The internship taught me more in six months than I had learned in years at university. The openness and transparency in all aspects of the company that Tagawa allows for its interns to see is remarkable.”

Charlie McKenzie
Charlie McKenzie

McKenzie says his experience at Tagawa helped him to learn the ins and outs of the business, and helped him grow his passion for floriculture. After the internship, McKenzie returned to the University of Georgia for one more year of school, and then was offered a job at Tagawa.

“I chose to work at the New Mexico facility because of the beauty of New Mexico and the opportunities I had to learn and spread my wings at a facility that had just been open for four years,” he says.”

McKenzie was promoted to production manager in March of this year. In his new position, he oversees the production of all plants in the 20-acre facility, which grows finished material and have an acre and a half of geranium mother stock production.

“Tagawa’s propensity to hire young staff has certainly given me opportunities that I never imagined coming to fruition so soon,” he says. “The group of young, key staff members that we have at our facility in New Mexico drives out-of-the-box thinking and fresh ideas.”

McKenzie believes that providing jobs for the younger generation could help more youth to become interested in horticulture, especially as they see younger people placed in positions of responsibility.

“Being given the opportunity to be production manager at the age of 24 has given me the chance to take on responsibility and challenges that I yearned for,” he says. “The trust that the company has in its young employees and the confidence it has instilled in myself has allowed me to become a better overall person.”

20140710_123641_resized
Kara Crist

Kara Crist, Research And Development Manager

Research and Development Manager Kara Crist has worked for Tagawa Greenhouses for two and a half years.

Crist graduated from Colorado State University with a bachelor of science in horticulture emphasizing in floriculture and a bachelor of science in environmental horticulture emphasizing in nursery and landscape management.

While attending CSU, Crist was the annual trial garden coordinator. From there, she worked for Conrad Fafard Inc. as a research leader, which transitioned into a trial manager role for Syngenta. After that, Crist was able to obtain a position with Tagawa in its research department.

“The mini-internship that new employees of Tagawa Greenhouses undergo greatly aids in the success of that employee within the company,” Crist says.

Crist says it’s advantageous for a new employee to have quality, individualized time with each department manager.

“As an employee that has just started down a career path, it can seem overwhelming, so an opportunity that allows experience in many different aspects of the horticulture industry can help clarify positions of interest and identify where your individual strengths fit into the company,” she says.

Crist says she and her peers bring enthusiasm, ambition and a fresh perspective to their jobs.

“We have grown up with information right at our fingertips, which has instilled a sense of impatience for any processes that are inefficient, and we will use our tech-savvy skills to enhance operational efficiency,” Crist says. “The younger generation has grown up around ever-changing technology and therefore has an innate ease to picking up and mastering new technology.”

Tha Cha, Production Manager

Tha Cha
Tha Cha

Tha Cha started his horticulture career at a young age working on his family’s farm in Minnesota.

He graduated from the University of Wisconsin River Falls, and after being awarded the Vic and Margaret Ball Intern scholarship, Cha completed an internship at Tagawa Greenhouses.

“During my internship, I was able to explore and work for various departments, from production to operations, distribution, marketing, sales, research and development. I also worked with a professional management team,” Cha says.

After completing the internship, Cha joined Tagawa as an assistant production manager. Within one year, he was promoted to production manager at the Brighton, Colo. facility. Tha currently oversees 20 acres of plant production, including vegetative liners, seeded plugs and retail ready products.

“Horticulture is a developing industry, and at Tagawa Greenhouse, mini-internships allow our employees to explore the whole greenhouse business,” he says. “Tagawa Greenhouses has opened many doors for my career path, and I hope to do the same for other youths. I believe that the younger employees like myself will continue to bring fresh perspectives and energy to the field.”

Topics: ,

Leave a Reply

More From Business Management...
Spring Meadow Nursery Fire

January 17, 2017

Two Major Growers Recovering and Rebuilding After Fires

The blazes occurred at Dan Schantz Farm and Greenhouses in Zionsville, PA, and Spring Meadow Nursery in Grand Haven, MI. Both companies say no employees were injured, and they plan to pull together and stay on schedule for the remainder of the year.

Read More
Stephanie Whitehouse

January 17, 2017

Stephanie Whitehouse Takes Her Passion for Plants to Dickman Farms

Stephanie Whitehouse, who has spent the last seven years as the Sales and Marketing Director for Peace Tree Farm in Kintnersville, PA, recently joined Dickman Farms Greenhouse and Garden Center in Auburn, NY, as the company’s new Retail General Manager.

Read More

January 10, 2017

5 Can’t-Miss Events and Activities at TPIE

The Florida Nursery, Growers and Landscape Association’s Tropical Plant Industry Exposition (TPIE) is fast approaching. As you plan your trip, here are five can’t-miss highlights from this year’s show.

Read More
Latest Stories
Spring Meadow Nursery Fire

January 17, 2017

Two Major Growers Recovering and Rebuilding After Fires

The blazes occurred at Dan Schantz Farm and Greenhouses in Zionsville, PA, and Spring Meadow Nursery in Grand Haven, MI. Both companies say no employees were injured, and they plan to pull together and stay on schedule for the remainder of the year.

Read More

January 10, 2017

5 Can’t-Miss Events and Activities at TPIE

The Florida Nursery, Growers and Landscape Association’s Tropical Plant Industry Exposition (TPIE) is fast approaching. As you plan your trip, here are five can’t-miss highlights from this year’s show.

Read More
sakata-tour-de-fresh-salad-bar-donation

January 8, 2017

Sakata’s Participation in Tour de Fresh Race Results in…

On the heels of riding in the Tour de Fresh Race in July, Allen Satterlee of Sakata Seed America celebrated by presenting a new salad bar to Galt Elementary School in California.

Read More
griffin-aurora-colorado-branch

January 6, 2017

Griffin Opening New Hard-Goods-Focused Distribution Cen…

The planned February opening of the 18,500 square-foot facility is part of the company’s continued expansion into the Western U.S.

Read More
gg-january-2017-cover-arizonaeast-feature

January 5, 2017

Why ArizonaEast Is Expanding Its Succulent Production T…

In Greenhouse Grower's January cover story, learn how Brian and Joe Vitale of ArizonaEast saw a chance to expand and diversify their New Jersey-based succulent operation, and why they jumped at the opportunity.

Read More
Moana plant yard

January 4, 2017

Green Industry Poised for Continued Economic Growth in …

Positive economic indicators point to 2017 being a year of modest growth for the green industry, according to economist Charlie Hall.

Read More

January 3, 2017

Growing Optimism for the Horticulture Industry in 2017

With a new administration and a new Congress, AmericanHort's Craig Regelbrugge says the horticulture industry has reason to be cautiously optimistic that regulatory relief could be on the horizon.

Read More
2016-student-competition-award-winners

January 3, 2017

Southern Nursery Association Research Conference Procee…

On the heels of presenting awards to students in the horticulture industry, the Southern Nursery Association has compiled and published its conference research proceedings.

Read More
Farwest Show Floor

December 31, 2016

Farwest Show 2017 Will Feature New Days and Hours

The 2017 Farwest Show will take place Wednesday, Aug. 23 through Friday, Aug. 25, to allow attendees more time to visit local hot spots.

Read More
kelly-norris

December 29, 2016

Kelly Norris: 4 Ways We’re Leaving Growth Opportunities…

Horticulture is a multi-million dollar industry with lots to offer, yet we’re still overlooking several avenues for growth.

Read More
Top 100 Breakfast Panel for 2016

December 27, 2016

You Said It: The Best Quotes From 2016

Some of the industry’s leading growers and educators had strong things to say this year. Here’s a look at some of the most memorable quotes from 2016.

Read More

December 27, 2016

5 Photo Galleries You Didn’t Dare Miss in 2016

Whether it was industry event and trade show highlights or new developments in technology, these images not only spoke more than a thousand words; they drew thousands of clicks, as well.

Read More

December 27, 2016

Check Out the Top 5 Most-Read News Stories on Greenhous…

From pest outbreaks to overtime rule changes, here are the headlines that grabbed your attention in 2016.

Read More
Grow Summit 2016 group shot

December 20, 2016

Less Talk, More Action At Greenhouse Grower’s GRO…

Investing in technology, developing new marketing solutions, and recruiting young growers were just a few of the issues covered at GROW Summit 2016.

Read More
Workers are required to wear uniforms and use tools restricted to the section of the facility where they work, and street clothes are prohibited

December 16, 2016

House Failure To Address H-2B Exemption Could Affect Sp…

Despite efforts by AmericanHort and others in the industry, the House of Representatives failed to renew the Returning Worker Exemption, a policy that helps ensure that small and seasonal businesses have an adequate workforce for the peak spring season.

Read More
americanhort-hort-scholars

December 15, 2016

HortScholars Program Is Open For 2017 Applications

Presented by AmericanHort, the program is open to students in a horticulture-related degree program, and recipients will have exclusive opportunities for in-depth discussions with industry leaders at Cultivate’17.

Read More
North Creek Nurseries Bright Young Talent

December 13, 2016

Emergent Networking Event On Deck At MANTS 2017

Emergent, the collective group of young horticulture professionals who represent the next generation of growing, will host a reception on Wednesday, Jan. 11, after the MANTS tradeshow floor closes.

Read More
bailey-nurseries-veterans-workforce

December 13, 2016

How Bailey Nurseries Navigates The H-2A Program

Joe Bailey, Human Resources Director at Bailey Nurseries says each operation has to analyze their situation and decide for themselves if the H-2A program is right for them.

Read More