2010 Head Grower Of The Year Finalists

2010 Head Grower Of The Year Finalists

For the first time, Greenhouse Grower is recognizing head growers as part of its Grower of the Year program. Our Head Grower of the Year will be named July 12 during our Evening of Excellence ceremony at OFA as part of our program. Our Operation of the Year will be named then, as well.

Seventeen head growers were nominated for this award. Our 2010 panel, which narrowed the field down to four, includes Associate Professor Paul Fisher of the University of Florida, Greenhouse Grower Editor Delilah Onofrey, our last two Growers of the Year – George Lucas and Mark Elzinga of Elzinga & Hoeksema Greenhouses – and Steve Larson, national ornamentals account manager for BASF.

Now, we present our four finalists of Head Grower of the Year.

Andrew Britten, Costa Farms

Andrew Britten, who currently manages plug, propagation and offshore stock production at Costa Farms, joined the Miami, Fla.-based operation in 2001. Britten’s role upon his hire was to build a plug range from scratch with the intention of producing plugs for Costa’s internal production. Now, in less than 10 years, Britten oversees production of more than 115 million plugs and liners for Costa Farms’ locations in Florida, North Carolina and Pennsylvania. He also developed Costa’s off-shore production site in the Dominican Republic and built his own production team from scratch over the years.

In production, Britten is developing algorithms to determine exactly how much water different crops need in propagation. He is also working to develop new ways to apply plant growth regulators on crops, including as pre-germination sprays that lead to reduced chemical use and improved control.

“I have known Andrew for about 15 years, both as a competitor and as a peer,” says Cindee Delbridge, director of purchasing and production planning at Costa. “Andrew is a very well-rounded individual who demonstrates all the necessary skills to become a leader in the industry.”

The much-talked-about Aqualok is partially a product of Andrew’s creativity, as well. Andrew conducted much of the research on Aqualok for Costa Farms.

Regina Coronado, Stacy’s Greenhouses

With a staff of four assistant growers, four scouts, eight irrigators and 12 chemical applicators, Regina Coronado uses a variety of methods to ensure every plant grown at Stacy’s Greenhouses in York, S.C., is grown to the highest quality and ready to perform for the consumer.

From managing 250 miles of drip irrigation and 20 acres of lit growing beds to new chemical experimentation, Coronado is Miss Versatility at Stacy’s. She keeps the operation at the front end of technology and innovation because of a willingness to learn and improve. Coronado is a good teacher and a regular contributor to the management team from a variety of aspects, including cost analysis, efficiency improvement, raw material use, safety and waste analysis.

“She teaches as well as anyone I have ever encountered,” says Tim Brindley, vice president of operations and sales at Stacy’s. “She listens very well. Her work ethic and hands-on interaction keep her staff at a very high level.”

Regularly working with other experts has molded Coronado into a leader, too. Many growers around the country consult with Coronado daily. And, in everything Coronado does, she gets results.

Marc Verdel, Battlefield Farms

Marc Verdel began his career at Battlefield Farms as an assistant grower in 1991. Today, Marc is Battlefield’s head grower, and he’s played a key role in the Virginia-based greenhouse operation’s growth from 6 acres two decades ago to 40 acres today. Much of Battlefield’s growth is attributed to Marc because of his ability to recognize plant quality and shifting markets for plants.

As a hands-on grower, Marc provides direct motivation and mentoring to those on his growing staff. He works side by side with his staff and is largely responsible for production enhancements at Battlefield. Most recently, Marc guided the operation through a transition that resulted in Battlefield Farms becoming a perennial liner supplier.

“Marc not only uses new tools in growing, he is responsible for many of the innovations,” says P. Allen Hammer, Dümmen product and development. “He always asks what is new and cutting edge. When asked, Marc is always the first to participate in greenhouse experiments looking at new chemical uses or production changes.”

Tom Wheeler, Bell Nursery

Always open minded and willing to change practices, Tom Wheeler is constantly developing programs to improve production at Bell Nursery and its 40 affiliated network producers on the Eastern Shore of Maryland. Bell is now a VeriFlora-certified sustainable producer growing in an environmentally and socially responsible manner, and Wheeler’s role in the VeriFlora journey was a big one, as he implemented aggressive IPM and recycling programs that resulted in chemical use reductions and improvements in Bell’s recycling output.

Also impressive is Wheeler’s photo library of 40,000 crop photos at all stages of production in Bell’s various facilities. And he’s made strides to reduce runoff by implementing Echo systems and drip irrigation over the last few years. Wheeler has also developed several computer models he uses year-round for all facets of production.

“Tom has made valuable contributions in both our short- and long-term strategic planning to ensure our continued growth, profitability and success,” says Dale Mangum, who nominated Wheeler for the award.

Through his hands-on approach and leadership, Wheeler has the respect of his team and those in the industry.

Leave a Reply

4 comments on “2010 Head Grower Of The Year Finalists

  1. it seems its always the large growing operations
    get nominated for these things. you know there are a lot of GREAT GROWERS in small operations as well!

  2. If I may speak up in defense of the selection process, Peace Tree Farm won this award in 2005—and there is nothing ‘big’ about Peace Tree. We were stunned and greatly honored by this award, but the message was clearly that it is NOT about size, but dedication, innovation, and committment to be excellent always.Congratulations to all the nominees.

  3. it seems its always the large growing operations
    get nominated for these things. you know there are a lot of GREAT GROWERS in small operations as well!

  4. If I may speak up in defense of the selection process, Peace Tree Farm won this award in 2005—and there is nothing ‘big’ about Peace Tree. We were stunned and greatly honored by this award, but the message was clearly that it is NOT about size, but dedication, innovation, and committment to be excellent always.Congratulations to all the nominees.

More From Grower of the Year...
Medal of Excellence Award

July 6, 2015

Get To Know The 9 Variety Finalists For Editor’s Choice And Industry’s Choice Awards

Greenhouse Grower‘s Evening Of Excellence reception is rapidly approaching. Here, you can learn more about the varieties that are finalists for the Medal Of Excellence Editor’s Choice and Industry’s Choice Breeding Awards. Thank you to the 2015 sponsors of Greenhouse Grower‘s Medal Of Excellence Awards, Landmark Plastic, Nufarm and Stockosorb. Editor’s Choice Asclepias ‘Monarch Promise’ (Hort Couture) Basil ‘Balsamic Blooms’ (EuroAmerican Propagators) Celosia ‘Dragon’s Breath’ (Sakata Seed) Dianthus Jolt Series (PanAmerican Seed) Salvia Grandstand Series (Green Fuse Botanicals) Scabiosa ‘Kudos Pink’ (Hishtil Nurseries) Industry’s Choice Basil ‘Balsamic Blooms’ (EuroAmerican Propagators) Bidens BeeDance Series (Suntory Flowers) Celosia ‘Dragon’s Breath’ (Sakata Seed) Dianthus Jolt Series (PanAmerican Seed) Lobelia ‘Starship Deep Rose’ (Kieft Seed) Vinca Valiant Series (PanAmerican Seed)     Join us Monday, July 13 in Ballroom 2 at the Columbus Convention Center to find out which varieties will receive the coveted awards. The reception begins at 5:15 p.m. and the ceremony […]

Read More
crider-rd2-internal_Rough-Brothers_featured

July 1, 2015

Rough Brothers Is Acquired By Gibraltar Industries

RBI Solar Inc., Rough Brothers Manufacturing Inc. and affiliates have been acquired by Gibraltar Industries, a manufacturer and distributor of products for residential and industrial markets, for $130 million. Capitalizing on its 80 years of design-build experience and leadership as the largest greenhouse manufacturer in North America, Ohio-based RBI has established itself during the past five years as North America’s fastest-growing provider of photovoltaic (PV) solar racking solutions. The transaction will enable Gibraltar to leverage its expertise in structural metals manufacturing and materials sourcing to meet global demand for solar racking solutions. The company also announced that it anticipates its second-quarter 2015 financial results will be in line with its previous expectations. “Acquiring RBI is an important step in the transformation of Gibraltar into a company with a higher rate of growth and best-in-class financial metrics,” says Gibraltar CEO Frank Heard. “This acquisition directly aligns with key end markets and product platforms […]

Read More

June 30, 2015

Opportunities Abound For Women In Horticulture, Says Dosatron International’s Lela Kelly

My love for horticulture goes back to my grandparents who were farmers in upstate New York. My family’s involvement in agriculture left a lasting impression that has spanned decades, and still drives my passion for our industry today. I started my career in horticulture when I owned a greenhouse, nursery and garden center in Sayville, Long Island, N.Y. We specialized in ground cover production, later branching out to producing perennials and bedding plants.     I then went onto wholesale hard goods distribution. In the 1980s, I was the first woman salesperson on Long Island. What an eye opener that was! New York is a very special place, different from anywhere else in the country. You cannot imagine how difficult it was walking into greenhouses and nurseries as a woman, in a man’s world. Luckily, I grew up in New York City in an Italian family, who taught me great […]

Read More
Latest Stories
Ron Van der Hengst, South Central Growers

June 19, 2015

Ron Van der Hengst Of South Central Growers Is A Finali…

Ron Van de Hengst’s concentrated focus on improving production practices and finding better ways to turn out a top quality product makes him a deserving finalist for the 2015 Head Grower of the Year and recipient of the 2015 Excellence In Production award.

Read More
CEO Karl Stensson, Sheridan-Nurseries

June 18, 2015

Sheridan Nurseries Is A Finalist For 2015 Operation Of …

Sheridan Nurseries is Canada’s largest grower of hardy nursery plants and has been in business since 1913. It is one of three finalists for Greenhouse Grower’s Operation Of The Year award and winner of the Excellence In Perennials Production award for 2015.

Read More
Casey Houweling Houwelings Tomatoe

June 18, 2015

Houweling’s Tomatoes Is A Finalist For 2015 Operation O…

Houweling’s Tomatoes is an innovative greenhouse operation based in Delta, British Columbia that grows a full array of tomato and cucumber varieties. It is the winner of Greenhouse Grower’s Excellence in Vegetable Production for 2015.

Read More
Tom Wheeler, Bell Nursery USA

June 16, 2015

Bell Nursery USA’s Tom Wheeler Is A Finalist For …

Tom Wheeler’s individual-based and broad scale industry leadership and innovative ideas for high-quality production makes him a deserving finalist for the 2015 Head Grower of the Year and recipient of the 2015 Excellence In Leadership award.

Read More
Ed van Hoven and family_American Color

June 9, 2015

American Color Is A Finalist For Greenhouse Grower’s Op…

American Color, a grower located in Orange, Va. that started with one acre of land, is one of three finalists for Greenhouse Grower’s Operation Of The Year and the recipient of the Excellence In Annuals Production award for 2015. Since opening in 1998, the operation has grown to include 784,080 square feet of greenhouse space and 20 acres of field production. American Color grows annuals, perennials and holiday plants, and its main customers are Costco and Kmart, as well as Food City and various independent garden centers. The operation also does contract growing for Metrolina Greenhouses. “We’re extremely proud to receive this nomination at American Color, because it really validates our approach to this industry. Our mission at American Color is to provide superior plant quality, excellent customer service, and unmatched commitment to all of our customers,” Owner and President Ed Van Hoven says. “When you can (provide that) to […]

Read More
Nick Gerace/Welby Gardens

June 3, 2015

Welby Gardens’ Nick Gerace Finalist For 2015 Head…

Nick Gerace’s enthusiastic leadership and focus on smarter growing with less hours on the job makes him a deserving finalist for the 2015 Head Grower of the Year and recipient of the 2015 Excellence In Innovation award.

Read More

November 11, 2014

2015 Grower Of The Year Awards Nominations Now Open

The Grower of the Year program encompasses two distinct awards: Operation Of The Year and Head Grower Of The Year. Tell us about an operation or head grower you believe we should consider today.

Read More

August 27, 2014

2014 Head Grower Of The Year Ivan Tchakarov: An Enthusi…

Greenhouse Grower’s 2014 Grower of the Year Ivan Tchakarov accepts challenges, embraces the latest technology and leads his team with a positive attitude.

Read More

August 27, 2014

Henry Mast Greenhouses/Masterpiece Flower Company Build…

Greenhouse Grower’s 2014 Operation of the Year builds long-standing, mutually beneficial customer relationships that last.

Read More

August 22, 2014

Highlights From Greenhouse Grower’s Evening Of Ex…

Greenhouse Grower’s Evening of Excellence, held at Cultivate’14’, celebrated outstanding efforts in breeding, growing and marketing, but more than that, it was a celebration of individuals and operations that strive for excellence in their daily work.  

Read More

July 15, 2014

Greenhouse Grower Thrilled To Honor 2014 Medal of Excel…

Check out the breeders, growers and new varieties that earned the Greenhouse Grower Medal of Excellence awards for 2014.

Read More

July 15, 2014

Ivan Tchakarov Of Metrolina Greenhouse Named Greenhouse…

Metrolina Greenhouse's Director of Growing Ivan Tchakarov was named Grower of the Year at Greenhouse Grower's Evening of Excellence, held July 14 at Cultivate'14 in Columbus, Ohio.

Read More

July 15, 2014

Henry Mast Greenhouses Named Greenhouse Grower’s …

Henry Mast Greenhouses is named as Operation of the Year at Greenhouse Grower's Evening of Excellence on Monday, July 14 at Cultivate'14 in Columbus, Ohio.

Read More

June 13, 2014

Ron Godden of Wenke Greenhouses Is A 2014 Finalist For …

Ron Godden of Wenke Greenhouses enjoys the challenge of growing and has a genuine love for the intensity of the spring season.

Read More

June 12, 2014

Andy Buist of Micandy Garden Greenhouses Is A 2014 Fina…

Head Grower Of The Year Finalist Andy Buist is a hardworking grower with over 50 years of experience who encourages his employees and spreads his passion to everyone around him.

Read More

June 10, 2014

Jill West Of Al’s Garden Center And Greenhouses I…

Innovation and strong leadership skills make Jill West a worthy finalist for Head Grower of the Year.

Read More

June 10, 2014

Ivan Tchakarov Of Metrolina Greenhouses Is a 2014 Final…

Ivan Tchakarov's contagious enthusiasm, technical knowledge, drive for innovation and deep passion for his work make him a deserving finalist for the 2014 Head Grower of the Year.

Read More

June 10, 2014

Agri-Starts Is A 2014 Nominee For Operation Of The Year

See why Agri-Starts unique products and services has made it a finalist for Greenhouse Grower's Operation of the Year Award.

Read More