Our mission is printed on the front of each issue every month: Serving leading independent garden center retailers in North America. We strive to produce the most relevant, applicable and engaging content, and we do this by reaching out to industry leaders and sharing their expertise with you.

The members of the Garden Center Advisory Board often work behind the scenes, sharing ideas that help drive the focus of the magazine. We are incredibly grateful for their commitment and dedication to serving on our board. I am pleased to welcome back five members of our 2017 Advisory Board who are serving a second term, and thrilled to announce two new members who will join together to form the 2018 Advisory Board:

Mark Ruibal

Mark Ruibal, VP of sales and marketing for Ruibal’s Plants of Texas, started in the family business full-time in 1992, and has helped grow Ruibal’s Plants from a small farmers’ market stand into four retail stores with 30 acres of annual growing facilities. Ruibal is serving his first term on the board and represents the second generation of leaders in the Dallas nursery business.

Eliza Blank

Eliza Blank is founder and CEO of The Sill, which sells houseplants and its own line of stoneware pots nationwide through its e-commerce website. The company, which Eliza launched in 2012, also has two brick-and-mortar retail stores that host regular workshops in New York City. This is Eliza’s first year on the board.

Susan Bachman West

Susan Bachman West, president of Bachman’s, is a 27-year company veteran and fifth-generation owner of an IGC with roots that go back more than 130 years, and is serving her second term on the board. Bachman’s has six garden centers in the Minneapolis-St.Paul, Minnesota region, and 27 floral outlets.

Frank Benzing

Frank Benzing, president and CEO of SummerWinds Nursery, oversees six locations in Silicon Valley, Calif., and the greater Phoenix area, and is joining us for a second term on the board.

Richard Christakes

Richard Christakes, CEO of Alsip Home & Nursery, with locations in Frankfort, Ill. and St. John, Ind., is serving a second term on the board, and has over 20 years of industry experience.

Julie Kouhia

Julie Kouhia, CEO of Molbak’s Garden + Home, Woodinville, Wash., joined Molbak’s in 2006 as COO, and is serving a second term on the board. Prior to working at Molbak’s, Julie was a marketing executive at Starbucks and Amazon for a combined seven years.

Sandi Hillermann McDonald

Sandi Hillermann McDonald, president of Hillermann Nursery & Florist, Washington, Mo., is a second-generation owner of Hillermann and has held board positions with several associations, including Garden Centers of America. Sandi is serving a second term on the board.

Michelle Simakis