Ivan Tchakarov, Metrolina Greenhouse’s Director of Growing, was named Grower of the Year at Greenhouse Grower‘s Evening of Excellence, held July 14 at Cultivate’14 in Columbus, Ohio.
Greenhouse Grower’s Grower of the Year Program is sponsored by BASF.
Tchakarov is originally from Bulgaria, where he received a degree in horticulture and agriculture. He moved to England in 1994 and worked at Burelane Farm in Cambridge and Trent Valley Growers in Derby County. In 1999, when he was studying at The Ohio State University, he came to Metrolina Greenhouses for an 18-month internship, during which he worked in the tissue culture laboratory.
Tchakarov was hired on as a plug grower and became director of propagation in 2006. Five years later, he was promoted to director of growing, in charge of all production across Metrolina’s 330 growing acres.
Tchakarov spent 10 years developing plug procedures from start to finish. His emphasis on plug culture, scheduling, implementing new ideas and techniques and setting specific crop schedules for every crop Metrolina grows, helps keep the notoriously high-efficiency greenhouse operation running smoothly.
Metrolina is known for its use of technology and innovation, and Tchakarov knows how to use the cutting-edge tools to drive quality production on schedule, says Greg Gabrels, of Sakata Seed America.
“He immigrated to the states and moved to the position of head grower at one of the largest, most advanced greenhouses in the world,” Gabrels says. “He did this through hard work, smart work and teamwork.”
Metrolina has continually invested in automation for more than 40 years, constantly improving its ability to deliver high quality production to retail customers.
“Without high-quality plants grown by Ivan and his dedicated growing staff, Metrolina would not be so successful, says Rick Grossman of Express Seed Co. “Ivan is not afraid to challenge the status quo. If there is a better way, he will seek to understand and implement it.”
In addition, Tchakarov is known for his contagious enthusiasm, positive attitude and willingness to work with his team to overcome challenges.
He enjoys the whole experience of growing — the journey from a tiny seed, cutting, or corm to the beautifully displayed racks and tables at the store, and finally into the homeowners’ gardens.
“This is what gives me inspiration and fuels my creativity,” Tchakarov says. “It makes me strive for excellence and always to try harder each and every day.”
He says he is passionate about his work, has a technical understanding and never-ending curiosity driving him to find new and better ways, and he has the leadership skills to help others achieve their best.
“Being flexible, forward-thinking and open to change is so important in order to succeed, but it also can’t be done without an excellent team beside you, working together day in and day out to accomplish the goal of growing and delivering the highest quality plants possible,” says Tchakarov. ”This is a great honor and a privilege for me and my team and colleagues at Metrolina. It is one more excellent example that this country truly is the land of opportunity, and great rewards await those that work hard and respect others.”