For Aron Hoff at Meyers Fruit Farms and Greenhouses (winner of the Excellence in Leadership Award) in Niagara on the Lake, Ontario, Canada, being a good leader is challenging because there is always room for improvement.
“Being a good leader requires one to listen to the team of growers and to work with them closely on a day-to-day basis,” Hoff says. “I struggle at certain times of the year with making myself available to growers, and I realize that being available allows for important discussions to happen. Through that, we all take steps forward and better analyze what we need to do in response to what is going on in our crops and the greenhouse.”
Another aspect of good leadership, according to Hoff, is leading by example.
“I want our growers to see me at the job and learn something from that example,” Hoff says. “My grandfather was a grower, and his example was clear that none of us are above any other, and leaders are valued and recognized for what they do, not for who they are.”
Hoff tries to hone his leadership skills by traveling to other companies, attending conferences, and talking shop with consultants and other growers in the industry.
“Being a leader requires experience and knowledge, but the true key is acknowledging that I don’t know it all,” Hoff says. ”There is always more to learn, and showing our team that I am intent on learning, and using this knowledge to guide our company forward, empowers me as a leader.”
Hoff carries out these leadership skills in an impressive manner. His team of seven growers meets weekly to discuss crop issues, new trials and varieties, crop response to environmental changes, and other issues of importance. He encourages the growers to produce ideas to facilitate positive change.
“Aron is open, forthright, and humble with his ability to make each grower feel like an important and empowered member of the team,” says Fred Meyer, owner of Meyers Fruit Farms and Greenhouses. “He makes sure that all growers have the opportunity to ask for what they need to improve their job performance. As the owner, when I walk by these meetings, there is a sense of joviality and mutual engagement and the passion is quite visible.”
The Head Grower of the Year award winner will be announced during Greenhouse Grower’s Evening of Excellence at Cultivate’17.