Michigan’s governor and Department of Agriculture director selected Walters Gardens as the 2008 Michigan Agriculture Exporter of the Year for its ability to build a strong reputation in the Canadian market with superior quality products, The Grand Rapids Press reports.
“Walters Gardens is an example of a Michigan company that saw an opportunity to expand their business and took full advantage of it by expanding into the Canadian market,” says Michigan Governor Jennifer Granholm. “Their products are available in every province of Canada, representing a superior commitment to exporting and market-share expansion. The exported Michigan products are an important part in creating a viable, diverse and healthy state economy.”
Don Koivisto, director of the Michigan Department of Agriculture, echoed Granholm’s sentiment.
“Walters Gardens was chosen because season after season, they continue to deliver the highest quality agricultural product to their export markets, thereby representing Michigan’s commitment to quality and aiding economic diversification,” Koivisto says. “Michigan is second in the nation for agricultural diversity and exports over one-third of its agricultural commodities every year. Recent studies show these exports generated $1.68 billion in 2008 and employed over 13,000 residents.”
Walters Gardens is a third-generation company established in 1946. Today, it employs 240 people in the Zeeland, Mich. area.
The company’s export sales grew 34 percent from 2007 to 2008 and account for 9 percent of overall sales. The company exports more than 1,000 varieties of perennials to Canada annually.