Garden Center magazine has announced speakers for the Garden Center Executive Summit, an educational conference to provide key decision-makers at independent garden centers with actionable ideas they can take back to their businesses and opportunities to network. The inaugural Executive Summit, planned in collaboration with Garden Center’s Conference and Editorial advisory boards, will take place Feb. 18-20, 2019, in Denver, Colorado.

The speaker lineup includes Ian Baldwin, who will address benchmarking; Julie Kouhia, CEO of Molbak’s Garden + Home, who will discuss how garden centers can remain relevant in a rapidly evolving retail environment; Susan Bachman West, president of Bachman’s who along with Mark Bigej, chief of operations of Al’s Garden & Home, will explain how IGCs can improve the employee experience; Richard Christakes, CEO of Alsip Home & Nursery, who will share his company’s efforts to let customers shop how they want to shop by offering e-commerce and in-store delivery; and Rob Sproule, co-owner of Salisbury Greenhouse, who will explain how to find the right digital marketing strategies for your garden center.

Al’s, Alsip, Molbak’s and Salisbury are among the 100 companies honored in Garden Center magazine’s 2018 Top 100 Independent Garden Centers list, and ranked companies will be recognized during a celebration and networking event on Tuesday, Feb. 19.

An outline of the conference schedule is on the following page. For more details about the event and to register, visit

Monday, February 18, 2019

Keynote: Strategy to Survive, People to Drive and Culture to Thrive: Hiring for Success and Developing and Reinforcing Culture | Speaker: Chris Taylor, CEO, Fisher’s Technology

Welcome Reception

Tuesday, February 19, 2019

Keynote: The Lean Garden Center: How Owners Can Incorporate Lean Business Practices to Improve Customer Experience, Culture and More | Speaker: Mark Graban, Author, Speaker, & Consultant, Constancy Inc.

Panel Discussion: The Employee Experience: How to Attract Career Staff and Create an Environment and Culture Where People Want to Work | Speakers: Susan Bachman West, President, Bachman’s and Mark Bigej, Chief of Operations, Al’s Garden & Home

Session: Measuring What Matters: The 5 most important metrics garden centers should be tracking and key benchmarks for the industry | Speaker: Ian Baldwin, garden center consultant and retail expert

Panel Discussion: What’s Driving Consumers: Authenticity, Transparency, Education and Experience | Speakers: Lindsay Squires Chrisp, Events & Community Outreach Coordinator, Tagawa Gardens, and Jennifer Schamber, Greenscape Gardens & Gifts

Panel Discussion: Why I Bought a Garden Center: Setting a Direction for a Newly Acquired or Created Business | Speakers: Casey Landa and Madison Landa Williams, Co-Owners, Boulevard Flower Gardens

Session: Developing a Mission, Vision and Core Values: The Process of Creating and Implementing Guiding Business Principles | Speaker: Jessie Jacobson, President and Owner, Tonkadale Greenhouse

Session: How Garden Center Owners Can Adapt to Rapidly Evolving Marketing Strategies | Speaker: Rob Sproule, Co-Owner, Salisbury Greenhouse

Top 100 Awards Ceremony and Reception

Wednesday, February 20, 2019

Keynote: Staying Relevant in a Quickly Evolving Retail World: What Are Other Retailers Doing and How Can Garden Centers Compete? | Speaker: Julie Kouhia, CEO, Molbak’s Garden + Home

Session: Letting Your Customers Shop How They Want to Shop: The Pros and Cons of E-Commerce, What I Learned from Offering E-Commerce, In-Store Pickup and Delivery | Speaker: Richard Christakes, CEO, Alsip Home & Nursery

Roundtable: 30 ideas in 30 minutes