I’ve worked at Raker for my entire professional career.  I started part time when I was finishing my Master’s degree.  I’ve been with Raker 18 years this March.  It’s very rare these days in any industry, let alone horticulture, to remain with a company so long.Raker has always been and will undoubtedly always remain a remarkable and progressive company.  I have been fortunate enough to have experienced the company grow significantly, upgrade its technology to remain cutting (but not bleeding) edge, develop and refine software with and without the aid of developers, survive through computer crash disasters and economic downturns…  The company has remained focused on consistent, continual improvement and refinement of systems and processes as a foundation philosophy.

I’ve seen the Raker outdoor gardens transform from a small, haphazard trial area, to a perennial catalog garden, to an amazing 4 acre internationally recognized trial and display garden.  There’s even a music event in the gardens this year.

I’ve worked in a variety of roles (typically morphing into a new role every 2 to 5 years).  Research assistant, Research Team Leader, perennial product support specialist (aka Perennial Guru), perennial marketing guy, Mr. New Product Development, expert tour guide, and most recently Genetic Evaluation Trial Manager for Raker and Hort Couture.

I’ve become recognized internationally as an expert on herbaceous perennials and have traveled to places I would never have otherwise had the opportunity to see.  I’ve enjoyed speaking at the many industry events I’ve participated in and feel fortunate to have met and shared knowledge with growers all over North America.

I’ve even been serenaded by the company’s entire Information Systems Team (aka computer geeks) to a live acoustic rendition of a rewritten version of Dr. Hook’s “The Cover of the Rolling Stone” after getting my picture on the cover of GM Pro (now Greenhouse Management).

It has been a very rewarding experience.

Raker is an amazing company and I have nothing but respect for its owners and employees.  It has been a wonderful, amazing ride, and I truly treasure my time in the industry and many of the relationships I’ve developed with colleagues around the world.

But the tremendous industry consolidation and economic strife brought a significant reduction in the amount of fun in the industry over the last few years.  As the fun has mostly been replaced by stress, I find that I need a stress break.

So, I am retiring from full-time employment, to relax more, go fishing as often as possible, travel some, and focus most of my energies on sustainable design and Permaculture projects, my true passion.  (Those efforts are chronicled at GLPN.)

I am fortunate enough to have been asked to oversee the Permaculture design of Two Fish Farms, a new off-grid, sustainable farm project in northwestern Michigan (zone 6b, 4 miles from Lake Michigan).  Having already fallen love with this part of the state when my mother’s best friend lived in that area, the decision to relocate wasn’t too difficult.

This spring, I will be assisting with the subsistence phase of the farm’s first production season, focusing on foundation planting, and preparing the property for an influx of international extended family visitors.

I hope to make some consulting and travel time available to the commercial horticulture industry in the future.  However, due to farm obligations, my time is extremely limited until at least the fall of 2013.  (Raker will also get first dibs on my limited consulting time.)

Please note that I am not currently open to offers of full-time employment — unless, of course, they require no travel, no relocation, less than full time hours, and provide an obscene salary!

My cell phone reception is excellent at Two Fish Farms, and my cell number remains the same.  My LinkedIn profile is up to date if you use that system.  (There’s actually a decent Permaculture community there.)

Here’s to a strong and successful 2013 spring season!

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