RJ Romano

R.J. Romano

Managing Director and Supply Chain Advisory Practice Leader, BDO Consulting

RJ is a Managing Director in BDO’s Business Advisory Group and leads the Global Supply Chain Advisory Practice. He has over 20 years of experience in supply chain working with manufacturers, distributors, trucking companies, and third-party logistics companies.

As a Certified Supply Chain and LEAN Professional with a bachelor’s degree in Supply Chain, RJ has spent his entire career in Supply Chain. Most of that career has been in industry acting as Head of Global Supply Chain for both private and public companies as well as many other roles across the supply chain spectrum from Procurement & Sourcing to Plant & Warehouse Manager to Transportation & Logistics.

Since transitioning to consulting in 2017, RJ and his team has assisted clients at various companies focused on supply chain network design/integrations, manufacturing process improvement, distribution/transportation operations, supply chain simulation and technology implementation.

As a new resident of Arizona, he is looking forward to the summer months which he has been told is only best explained by experiencing it!

Mike Vallafskey

Mike Vallafskey

CEO, Dan and Jerry’s Greenhouse

Mike Vallafskey, CEO at Dan and Jerry’s Greenhouses, with growing ranges in Minnesota, South Dakota, Iowa and Michigan Mike has more than 30 years of experience and knowledge serving the horticulture industry, including 18 years at T.O. Plastics, his last 12 years as its President. Mike also spent 19 months at AgriNomix as its Vice President – Sales and earlier in his career, served in various capacities at TLC Polyform including Sales, General Manager and Chief Operating Officer. Mike has significant leadership experience and is well versed in strategic planning, team building and general business leadership and continuity.

Mike earned his bachelor’s degree from Hamline University, St. Paul, MN. and his master’s degree in business administration from the University of St. Thomas, St. Paul, MN. He and his wife Sue reside in St. Paul with their 3-year-old Aussie Doodle Vinny. They have four children and two grandchildren.

Ryan Douglas

Ryan Douglas

Founder, Ryan Douglas Cultivation

Ryan Douglas helps businesses cultivate a profitable future in the cannabis industry. He is the founder of Ryan Douglas Cultivation, LLC and author of From Seed to Success: How to Launch a Great Cannabis Cultivation Business in Record Time.

Ryan has worked in commercial horticulture for 25 years and specializes in licensed cannabis start-ups. Before entering the cannabis industry, Ryan spent 15 years as a commercial greenhouse grower of ornamental and edible crops, growing up to 600,000 plants annually. In 2013 he was hired to launch cultivation for Tweed Inc., the flagship subsidiary of Canopy Growth Corporation, and his work has been featured in Vice, the New York Times, and Bloomberg News.

Ryan now offers cultivation advisory services to cannabis operators worldwide, and he can be reached through his website, douglascultivation.com.

Charlie Hall

Charlie Hall

Professor & Ellison Chair, Texas A&M, Dept. of Horticultural Sciences

Dr. Charlie Hall grew up in the industry on a nursery in Western North Carolina. Although an economist by training, he is currently a Professor in the Department of Horticultural Sciences at the Texas A&M University and also holder of the Ellison Chair in International Floriculture. His major areas of specialization include innovative management and marketing strategies, financial analysis and benchmarking, and the situation/outlook for nursery and greenhouse crops. He is an invited speaker at numerous regional, national, and international meetings of various industry-related associations and organizations. He is particularly known for the enthusiasm, passion, and intensity he exhibits when speaking.

Dr. Hall is an Honorary Lifetime Member of the Texas Nursery and Landscape Association and has received TNLA’s Award for Outstanding Service to the Nursery Industry. He is also a member of the Hall of Fame and Honorary Lifetime Member of the Tennessee Nursery and Landscape Association.

Doug Brothers

Doug Brothers

VP Sales and Marketing / Post Harvest, Wave Rider Nursery

Doug Brothers has spent his entire adult life dedicated to serving in the horticultural industry in a variety of prominent management positions.  Since June of 2022, he has been serving as VP of Sales & Marketing / Post Harvest side at Wave Rider Nursery in Salinas, CA. He joined the team at Wave Rider Nursery due to his experience in big Ag and cannabis and running large-scale greenhouse operations.

As COO at Greenfields Cannabis Co., Brothers made many changes and conducted extensive training. GCC is one of the top-quality flower producers in CA. Doug was also VP of Operations at Harborside Farms, a division of the vertically integrated Harborside Health Center’s expansive operations.  Doug was responsible for Harborside Farms’ multimillion-dollar buildout, including vendor relations, budgets, and county compliance. He was drawn to Harborside Farms because of the opportunity to apply all of his commercial agricultural skills and considerable contacts to the emerging cannabis industry.

Prior to Harborside Farms, Doug was Vice President of Matsui Nursery. He oversaw all areas of operations, from cultivation to sales and marketing.  Matsui is a $33m per year grower-shipper of orchids and supplies many of the nation’s largest chains. Brothers oversaw the sales and marketing to Costco, Trader Joe’s, Wholefoods, Safeway, and Raley’s, which are the company’s largest customers.

Doug enjoys watching his boys play baseball, traveling, cycling, and being the unofficial mayor of San Juan Bautista. He has three great kids, two dogs, a

James Russell

James Russell 

Vice President / General Manager at Armstrong Growers and Pike Farm 

Southern California and Georgia 

Looking for some easy science credits, James Armstrong signed up for a class in his high school horticulture dept. From there to an after-school job as “water boy” in a local garden center, marked the beginning of his professional journey of interacting with plants and people. 

Retail sales gave way to wholesale growing of trees and shrubs, and in an effort to find something more challenging, Armstrong eventually undertook growing flowering greenhouse crops. This is where he found Armstrong Growers, and he has spent 34 years on the job.  

In those 34 years, Armstrong has been an accomplished grower and trusted leader in a division that grew from 4 acres to a multi-site growing operation on two coasts with more than 1.5 million square feet of greenhouse space. Armstrong has a never lost his passion for the craft of horticulture and the enjoyment of developing skills in people and seeing customers delight in the products his team creates.  

In his nonprofessional pursuits, Armstrong was a United States Forest Service Forest Protection Officer, off-road instructor, and a leader of several U.S. Forest Service volunteer programs, including Adopt a Trail. Nowadays, he looks forward to spending his days off running trails in his Jeep Gladiator or Ram Rebel with his wife Merry of 35 years. His greatest achievement and joy has been raising two successful daughters who now reward him with equally wonderful grandchildren.  

Joche Smith

Joche Smith

President and CEO, Costa Farms

Joche Smith has been part of the Costa Farms senior management team since 1992, having served as President during most of that time. During his first full year at Costa Farms, annual revenues were $13 million. Since then, the company’s annual revenues have exceeded $600 million.

Smith’s primary roles with Costa Farms center around sales, customer relationships, and corporate finance. Smith has led the company’s transformation from a production and sales-oriented organization to one with a significant focus on information systems, research and development, and innovation. Under his guidance, Costa Farms has transformed itself into a partner for its customers — providing IT solutions, logistics solutions, product development, and marketing support.

Smith has also been instrumental in expanding the portfolio of products offered by Costa Farms to include annuals and perennials, and expansion of the company’s geographic scope from South Florida to Central Florida, North Carolina, and South Carolina. Before joining Costa Farms, Smith worked as a financial analyst at Ryder System, Inc. He is currently on the Board of Trustees of Cristo Rey Miami High School. Smith earned both his Bachelor of Science in Industrial Engineering and his M.B.A. from the University of Florida. 

Robert Colangelo

Robert Colangelo

Founder, Green Sense Holdings,Inc. 

Robert Colangelo is a scientist, author, and entrepreneur with more than 20 years of experience using a market-based approach to solving environmental challenges. He is recognized as an expert in Controlled-Environment Agriculture (CEA), sustainability, and brownfield redevelopment. He has worked extensively throughout the U.S., Canada, Europe, the former Soviet Union, and China.  

Colangelo founded Green Sense Farms Holdings, Inc. (GSF) to perform horticultural consulting, contract research, and the design and build of CEA facilities. He formed a partnership with RUFEPA, a marketing leader in the manufacturing and construction of greenhouses. Together they can build a range of indoor facilities to grow a wide range of crops year-round.  

Colangelo serves as host for Green Sense Radio Show. The show focuses on cost-effective sustainable solutions to global environmental challenges.  He has conducted more than 1,000 interviews with thought leaders in the field. The radio show first aired in 2010 and has run continually since.  

Coleangelo founded several organizations focused on the redevelopment of contaminated properties. As a principal, he purchased, redeveloped, and divested more than 1 million square feet of brownfield properties. 

Chuck Tryon

Chuck Tryon

President, Bushel Boy Farms 

Chuck Tryon’s roots in the food and agriculture industry run deep. Inspired by his father’s career in the grocery business and his overall love of food, Tryon earned a bachelor’s degree in international relations with a focus on international commerce and agriculture trade, followed by an MBA in marketing from the University of Minnesota’s Carlson School of Business. He spent two decades at food giants Pillsbury and General Mills, where he harnessed his passion for sustainability and premium-branded specialty vegetables. Tryon has also held leadership positions with Ecolab, Blencor, and WEPA, where he led numerous initiatives related to business strategy, commercial operations, market expansion, global supply chain, customer acquisition, sustainable agriculture, and food safety.

Tryon joined the Bushel Boy Farm’s team in 2020, applying his 30 years of experience in branded premium vegetables, agriculture, and food safety to help the brand meet its significant growth initiatives and navigate an increasingly competitive industry. In his role, Tryon spearheaded initiatives related to company culture, community involvement, and product innovation.

When he’s not at Bushel Boy Farm’s Owatonna or Mason City operations, he is either spending time with his wife, two adult children, and two young grandchildren, or indulging his love of food by trying out a new recipe or local restaurant. Tryon also makes time for leadership roles in key industry groups focused on sustainable agriculture and serves as a mentor for the Minnesota Cup.

Abe Van Wingerden

Abe Van Wingerden

Co-CEO, Metrolina Greenhouses 

Abe Van Wingerden received his MBA from Emory University in Atlanta, GA in 1993, and his B.A. in Business and Political Science from St. Andrews College in 1991. Before Metrolina Greenhouses, Van Wingerden worked for Procter and Gamble in several marketing and management roles over eight years from 1993 to 2001 including assignments in Troy, MI, Cincinnati, OH, and Bentonville, AK. Van Wingerden rejoined Metrolina Greenhouses in 2001 and became Co-CEO in 2007. He has served on various boards including St. Andrews College, the International Association of Horticultural Producers, and other professional and philanthropic organizations.    

Metrolina Greenhouses celebrates its 50th anniversary this year, and The International Association of Horticultural Producers and Floraculture International recently presented the operation with the International Grower of the Year title and Gold Rose Award.  

Metrolina Greenhouses started as a small one-acre greenhouse in 1972 in Huntersville, NC, when Tom/Vickie/Art/Abe Van Wingerden immigrated to the U.S. and is now one of the largest family-owned live goods business in the country supplying 1,400 retail outlets with multiple divisions including Metrolina Greenhouses where automation and innovation drive the business model. 

Metrolina’s team consists of more than 1,500 employees. It has two main locations – 180 acres of heated indoor space in Huntersville, NC, and 220 acres of outdoor space in York, SC as well as an integrated network of 58 other growers to help source product. The greenhouse operation also leads the industry with its sustainable practices including plastic recycling, water reclamation, and bio-mass heating systems.  

Jacqueline A. Jarrell, P.E.

Jacqueline A. Jarrell, P.E.

Deputy Director, Charlotte Water

Jackie Jarrell, P.E., is a Deputy Director with Charlotte Water and a Past President of the Water Environment Federation (WEF), an international professional water organization with more than 35,000 members. Her current focus includes field operations and customers service areas. Previously, Jackie was the Wastewater Operations Chief for Charlotte Water, responsible for overall wastewater operations with total permitted capacity of 123 million gallons per day. An active member of the North Carolina Water Environment Member Association, Jackie also served as the Member Association chair in 2013. In 2011, she travelled to Bolivia with Water for People. Jackie is a current Board member and past chair of the North Carolina Water Quality Association, a regulatory advocacy organization of utilities in North Carolina.

Jackie is a registered professional engineer in the state of North Carolina and holds a Biological Wastewater Grade II OIT (Operator in Training). She received a bachelor’s degree in engineering from the University of North Carolina-Charlotte. Jackie is a WEF Fellow, member of the NC 5S, is a recipient of the Arthur Sidney Bedell Award, and along with her colleagues, was awarded the WEF Gascoigne Wastewater Treatment Plant Operational Improvement Medal. Jackie and her family reside in Charlotte.

Dr. Erico Mattos

Erico Mattos

Dr. Erico Mattos

Co-Founder and CEO, Candidus

Dr. Mattos received his B.S. degree in agronomic engineering from the University of Sao Paulo (Brazil) in 2009 and a Ph.D degree in crop and soils sciences from the University of Georgia in 2013. Dr. Mattos is also co-founder and CEO of Candidus, a horticultural lighting control company developing smart lighting control systems for crop production in greenhouses. Candidus received Greenhouse Grower’s Medal of Excellence Technology of the Year award for 2021. Before committing himself full-time to Candidus, Mattos served as the Executive Director of Greenhouse Lighting and Engineering (GLASE) consortium.