As part of its ongoing efforts to expand its presence in the production ornamentals market, Bayer’s Environmental Science division recently appointed John Wendorf as U.S. Business Manager for the Bayer production ornamentals business. In his new role, Wendorf will lead an integrated team to bring the Bayer legacy of innovation and market leadership to ornamental growers across the country.
“John offers a rich background in commercial operations, marketing, and leadership roles in the professional ornamentals market,” says Jose Milan, head of the Bayer Turf and Ornamentals (T&O) business. “His technical qualifications and history of strategic leadership within Bayer make him uniquely qualified to help steer the expanded Bayer ornamentals business — and the industry — forward.”
Wendorf has worked within Bayer T&O for nearly three years, focusing most recently on tracking market trends to provide long-term strategic direction for the T&O business. Prior to working with Bayer, Wendorf most recently served as vice president at BFG Supply Co., where he managed the company’s Grower Division, including chemical and fertilizer products throughout the greenhouse business segments. Prior to BFG, he was vice president of sales & marketing for Carlin Sales Corporation and held sales positions with Monsanto and Novartis.
“Bayer is focused on innovation and the future of the ornamentals industry,” Wendorf says. “We’re on the cusp of some really important, game-changing innovation, and it makes sense at this stage for us to steward that innovation into the market.”
According to Wendorf, when Bayer launches into the ornamentals market in November, growers will have access to a wealth of resources, including a dedicated team focused on ornamentals growers, to help the industry overcome barriers that challenge growers every day.
Wendorf holds a Bachelor of Science in Horticulture from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and a Master of Business Administration from Texas A&M University.
Greenhouse Grower magazine recently caught up with Wendorf and asked him about his new role, and how he plans to work greenhouse growers in moving the industry forward.
Greenhouse Grower (GG): How did your previous experience prepare you for this new role?
Wendorf: For as long as I can remember, I’ve loved plants. Before I headed to college, I already knew I would be studying horticulture. Throughout my career, the professional roles I’ve held have prepared me in two important ways. First, I’ve had the good fortune to be able to work directly with growers to really understand what they do and the challenges our industry faces. Second, I’ve had the opportunity to look at things strategically at a macro level to better understand what can drive our business and the industry forward. For the past few years at Bayer, I have been involved in developing the strategic direction for the T&O business for North America, diving into topics like government regulation, technology, and labor management, as well as looking at customer needs. Before I was at Bayer, I was the business vice president at [BFG Supply], a major distributor of horticultural products for professional growers. In that role, I had the opportunity to connect with hundreds of growers. It gave me the chance to really appreciate how growers solve problems. Every grower is unique in what they do, how they do it, and the environments they manage.
GG: What are the some of the biggest issues or concerns you’ve heard from the growers you work with, and how do you plan to help them deal with these issues?
Wendorf: Growers are looking for ways to work smarter because they manage so many different challenges each day. Tools that “simplify” allow growers to spend more time focused on tough issues. Bayer looks forward to providing pest management tools that will simplify their plant protection programs — for example, products that control hard-to-manage insects or provide exceptionally long-lasting weed control. We look forward to bringing Bayer innovation to growers.
GG: What are the biggest challenges this industry is currently facing? Conversely, what are some of the biggest opportunities on the horizon?
Wendorf: One of the biggest challenges our industry faces is the constantly evolving customer — particularly among millennials, who have different motivations and enjoy plants differently than previous generations of customers. Buying flats and planting flowers used to be the norm, but millennials tend to be more interested in the instant gratification of mixed planters that they can drop on their front porch or balcony without getting their hands dirty. Coupled with the notion that millennials have different attitudes about pesticides, growers have to be prepared to change the crops they grow and how they manage them. I see Bayer’s role as providing solutions that meet both the needs of the grower and the consumer, which includes education.
GG: Looking ahead, what role can you play in moving this industry forward?
Wendorf: The professionals in this industry make the world a better place, and Bayer wants to help enhance and propel this great industry forward by offering advancements and solutions. In fact, Bayer expects to bring some very exciting innovation forward in the next couple years — along with the knowledge and expertise that our customers in other markets have come to trust. We’re looking to be more than just another chemical supplier. When Bayer Ornamentals launches in November, we’ll bring more than just a rich portfolio of insecticides, herbicides, and fungicides. We’ll partner with growers to deliver innovative solutions that enhance the lives of not only our industry, but the world in general. It’s an exciting time to be in the business.
GG: If you weren’t in this profession, what would you be doing?
Wendorf: I can’t think of another industry I would rather be in. But if I could, I would spend a lot more time running and biking!