I am pleased and honored to announce the 2017 Garden Center magazine Advisory Board:

Frank Benzing

Frank Benzing, president and CEO of SummerWinds Nursery, with 10 locations in California and Arizona. Frank brings more than 15 years of IGC experience to the board, and insights from operating several store locations in states with different spring seasons.

Richard Christakes

Richard Christakes, CEO of Alsip Home & Nursery, with locations in Frankfort, Ill. and St. John, Ind. Richard brings nearly 20 years of industry experience to the board. Alsip has developed a successful pet division and also offers a popular grooming service on-site at both locations, and the company also launched a comprehensive e-commerce website in 2015.

Sandi Hillermann McDonald

Sandi Hillermann McDonald, president of Hillermann Nursery & Florist, Washington, Mo. Sandi is a second-generation owner of Hillermann and has held board positions (including president) with LNAGST, MNLA, WNLA and GCA. Hillermann is known for the store’s array of innovative workshop offerings, which includes a pottery shop and beer- and wine-making classes.

Julie Kouhia

Julie Kouhia, CEO of Molbak’s Garden + Home, Woodinville, Wash. Julie joined Molbak’s in 2006 as COO, and has experience leading all aspects of Molbak’s retail operations. Prior to working at Molbak’s, Julie was a marketing executive at Starbucks and Amazon for a combined seven years, leading branding and customer analytics initiatives. Molbak’s is known for its creative use of space and merchandising, giving customers a boutique retail feel in both its plant and home décor sections.

Jere Stauffer

Jere Stauffer, retired Home & Garden COO of Stauffers of Kissel Hill, with eight locations based in Lititz, Pa. Stauffer retired in January 2017 after working for his family’s company for more than 40 years. Stauffers operates both garden centers and grocery stores, and in the past few years, has developed initiatives to promote the farmers that provide the locally grown produce offered in stores and to make returns at their garden centers seamless.

Susan Bachman West

Susan Bachman West, president of Bachman’s, with six main locations in the Minneapolis-St.Paul, Minn. region, and 26 floral shops. Susan is a 26-year company veteran and a fifth-generation owner. She oversees a wide range of departments — from wholesale to floral — and Susan and her family have maintained a strong and relevant IGC for its 130-plus year history.

We are incredibly thankful for their commitment. Their combined strengths and knowledge will help us continue to bring you the most useful, engaging content with ideas to enhance your business. You can read their full biographies online here: bit.ly/2lqIeGa.