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.  

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. 

Todd Downing

Todd Downing

Todd Downing

Co-Founder and Managing Partner, BEST Human Capital and Advisory Group

Todd Downing has enjoyed three decades of specialty horticulture experience, the last 15 years as a talent acquisition and human resources consultant. During this time, he has enjoyed partnering with client companies in evaluating, developing, and executing strategic hiring plans; behavioral-based assessment; benchmarking; building and reorganizing corporate teams; on-boarding; evaluating and negotiating compensation standards; succession planning; and retention. His industry experiences include ornamental and nursery, controlled agriculture, hydroponics, hemp and cannabis, and lawn and garden.

Todd is a member of AmericanHort, has participated as a speaker and published human resource articles for trade magazines. He graduated from Bowling Green State University, with a Bachelor’s Degree in Business.

Chuck Buffington

Chuck Buffington

Chuck Buffington

Vice President of Sales, Berger

Chuck Buffington is Vice President of Sales at Berger, a high-quality growing media supplier with 13 sites across the U.S. and products distributed in 20 countries. Buffington previously worked for 30 years at Syngenta, one of the world’s largest agribusiness companies, holding senior sales management and marketing positions in the specialty agriculture and greenhouse markets. He has extensive experience in many different crop input segments, including agricultural chemicals, seeds, vegetative genetics, and soilless substrates. Buffington holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Agriculture from South Dakota State University. He has also completed advanced Executive Leadership training at both INSEAD and Purdue University.