Meet Greenhouse Grower’s 2019 Operation of the Year Finalists

The finalists for this year’s Greenhouse Grower Operation of the Year award share several traits, including an innovative approach to production, a commitment to sustainability, and a drive to build long-term success for both their respective companies, and for the plant industry as a whole. Here’s your chance to get to know this year’s finalists, each of which have already won individual honors. The winner will be announced at Cultivate’19 during Greenhouse Grower’s Medal of Excellence awards.

Darrell Norris and SonExcellence in Production Award: Darrell Norris and Son Greenhouses, Racine, OH

Darrell and his son Ryan (aka Butch) take great pride in running a clean, top-quality greenhouse operation. Through the years, they have steadily grown and updated the operation, replacing single greenhouses with gutter connects, complete with roof vents. With their growth, they have constantly updated equipment to keep up with increased demands.


As Darrell Norris and Son has grown, it’s been able to lower overall production costs. All greenhouses have been connected where possible, and the addition of concrete driveways and sidewalks allow efficient movement of plants to and from growing areas and into a centralized potting and shipping area.

Even while investing their time and resources into an expanding operation, Darrell and Ryan are willing to offer advice to their peers, and they encourage other local growers to stop by. They offer an inspiring example for other growers to strive to make their operations better.

Kube PakExcellence in Business Management Award: Kube-Pak, Allentown, NJ

Since its beginning more than 50 years ago, Kube-Pak has been an industry leader in implementing new and innovative technology, including media mixing systems, software, and custom-designed trimmers. It does so not just because the technology is new, but because it can help the business become more profitable.

In 2000, Kube-Pak’s Bill Swanekamp recognized the need for an improved method for cost accounting of growing various greenhouse crops. He worked with the University of Florida’s Dr. Paul Fisher on a costing model that was predictable and that more closely reflected growing costs and, therefore, more profitable selling prices. Since then, Fisher has worked closely with Swanekamp in fine-tuning the model, which is being taught and used by many in the industry.

Swanekamp also has been active in several leading industry organizations and was instrumental in forming the Floricultural Research Alliance.

Today, Kube-Pak is a leader in the use of biocontrols and continuously looks for ways to become more efficient, whether it’s in labor management, integrated pest management, or most recently in finding the most efficient lighting solutions.

Loma Vista NurseryExcellence in Sustainability Award: Loma Vista Nursery, Ottawa, KS

Incorporating environmentally sustainable practices into its operation is a part of the culture at Loma Vista Nursery. This is true from its literal foundation: the nursery was built on an old rock quarry that housed a 40-acre pond. This pond is the company’s primary irrigation source and was designed and constructed for the entire nursery to recapture about 80% of the water pumped from it.

Loma Vista’s scouting program helps reduce pests and disease, and its custom-built shade structures furnish the right amount of light and airflow. These systems and framework allow Loma Vista to maintain an environmentally friendly operation.

When it comes to financial sustainability, several years ago, the management team began sharing financials with the entire staff with the underlying message that if everyone understands the goals of the company, financially as well as how their specific department or role can help move the needle, then the entire team has a stake in the final outcome. Since then, Loma Vista has constantly evaluated its production practices and the varieties and quantities it grows to make sure it has the right product to take to market.

Special thanks to our title sponsor Multi-Packaging Solutions – WestRock.