Industry Pioneer Ralles Dies At 90
The greenhouse floriculture industry lost one of its pioneers August 14 when Ted Ralles died in San Francisco. He was 90.
Ralles started his career with the 3M Company. He later worked for Visking, a division of Union Carbide. At the time, Visking just began selling polyethylene-blown film–a revolutionary new product known as “Vis Queen.”
In 1952, a San Francisco area rose grower, Hegg Honda, asked Ralles if this new product could replace his old fiberglass as a greenhouse roof. Consequently, Ted Ralles became the salesman who sold the first roll of polyethylene to be used as a greenhouse cover. Split folds were soon improved, and one-, two-, three- and four-year poly greenhouse film took off.
In 1957, Ralles went to Gering Plastics where he became known as the “Golden Greek,” because of his sales success. Monsanto bought the Gering plant, and Ralles helped them dominate the horticultural film market through the mid 1980s, when he retired.
Ralles was born in St. Paul, Minn. He was a WWII marine veteran. After recovering in a San Diego hospital from war injuries sustained in Iwo Jima and Nagasaki, he steeled in San Francisco.
Ralles always drove fine cars, wore Stetson hats with Louis Roth suits. He is survived by his wife Jane, daughter Carol and three sons, Ted Jr., Jim and David.