Evaluating Excellence

As we went to press, our jury members had just returned from the California Pack Trials and were thinking about their votes for the top five new introductions to consider for Greenhouse Grower’s (GG) Medal of Excellence for Breeding.

While the panel decides the Industry’s Choice award, GG still presents its traditional Editor’s Choice award and this is the second year you, our readers, will get to vote on the Reader’s Choice award. This year’s ceremony will mark the 20th year GG has presented a breeding award following Pack Trials.

In addition to the three breeding awards, we have rounded out our program to recognize innovative branding programs with our marketing award, as well as individuals and companies devoted to the varieties side of the business with our industry achievement award.

This is our sixth year having a panel decide the nominees for Industry’s Choice. We present this year’s jury:

PLUG GROWER: The Raker Team, C. Raker & Sons, Litchfield, Mich.

This leading plug producer has set the standard for serving customers of all sizes with the widest selection of annuals, perennials and specialty cut flowers. Representing the Raker Team this year are: Susie Raker, Jenny Kuhn, Lori May, Steve Reed and Lori Ricketts.

LINER GROWER: Mast Young Plants, Grand Rapids, Mich.

Rick and Joyce Mast, who founded leading young plant grower Glass Corner Greenhouses, are now operating as Mast Young Plants. Joining them at the trials are Brian Weesies and Jim Raterink. 

FINISHED GROWER: The Metrolina Team, Metrolina Greenhouses, Huntersville, N.C.

Metrolina is the largest single greenhouse location in the United States and is focused on finished plants for mass retail. Representing Metrolina are Abe Van Wingerden, Sim McMurry and Mark Yelanich. 

LARGE RETAIL: Vinny Naab, Naab Horticultural Marketing, Bethlehem, Pa.

As a long-time regional buyer for Home Depot, Naab continues to guide growers and allied vendors in the supply chain. He also writes a regular column in GG called Retail Details. 

INDEPENDENT GROWER RETAILER: The Welby Team, Welby Gardens, Denver, Colo.

Welby Gardens is a highly diversified business with its own retail garden centers and a thriving young plant division. Welby is known for its Hardy Boy brand and its plant trials. Representing the team this year are Al Gerace, Marty Gerace, John Gerace Jr. and Willie Knowles, who manages the Hardy Starts line. 

BROKER: Vaughn Fletcher, McHutchison LLC, Liberty, Mo.

Vaughn Fletcher is a sales representative and Midwest sales manager for McHutchison Horticultural Distributors. This is his fourth time representing independent brokers on our panel. 

ACADEMIC: Dr. Allan Armitage, University of Georgia, Athens, Ga.

As contributing editor, Armitage is our own resident varieties guru. His field trials are the litmus test of performance for the Southeast and he is always first to spot a new crop.

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