What is your professional background?
I started my career at a garden center in Chicago when I was 16 years old, loading bags of dirt, watering plants, and landscaping. From that start, I went to Southern Illinois University for landscape design, but I found my passion for growing plants. I graduated with a degree in Plant and Soil Science, minoring in Economics. Willoway Nurseries hired me after school as a production supervisor and I worked there a few years, then I went to Breezy Hill Nursery as their head container grower for 5 years. The owner at Willoway asked if I wanted to come back and take a head grower job managing 400 acres. I stayed there for three years before coming to Goodmark nursery as the nursery director. In 2019, I won the “Young Grower of the Year” award
Who are your greatest influences or role models?
No one specifically, I try to learn what I can from other people. I once heard someone say “Everyone you meet will know something you don’t”. That is true, so I try to learn what I can from everyone, keeping the ideas that work, and changing the ideas that do not.
What are some of the major milestones in your life?
My greatest milestone would be meeting and marrying my amazing wife. We have been only been married a few years but have been together for much longer. We have grown and changed together and built a very beautiful life with each other.
What would you do even if you didn’t get paid to do it?
I would be a competitive curler. (The sport with the rocks and brooms) I picked up the sport when I moved to Wisconsin, and it blends very well with the seasonality of the green industry. It keeps me active in the winters and I have met a lot of awesome friends through the sport.
What are your hobbies?
I really enjoy taking backpacking trips. I like the challenge and the simplicity of the days and exploring an area that few people have experienced. My favorite trip was the national lakeshore along Lake Superior, the entire trail was along the lake about 50ft up on sandstone cliffs.
What are you complimented on most in your work?
My ability to problem-solve. If there is an issue that needs to be addressed, we can usually find a way to fix it. The process involves a lot of input from the people dealing with the issue and working together to solve it. The most detrimental phase to a business is “its just the way we do it”. There is always a better way, and the little gains made each day add up into something revolutionary.