Tom Fortner has been appointed as Chief Operating Officer of Grown Rogue. "Tom brings over 40 years of horticultural expertise to Grown Rogue, where he is implementing his processes to create standardization across Grown Rogue’s 200,000 sq. ft. of cultivation infrastructure," the team explains. "His many years of industry experience and commitment to excellence will be great assets to Grown Rogue."
“Tom is a strong strategic leader who brings significant horticultural experience to Grown Rogue,” said Obie Strickler, chief executive officer of Grown Rogue. “With our significant cultivation capacity increases over the past 6 months, adding 500 plus pounds of high-quality flower per month, Tom’s 30-year career in the bedding plant industry is the perfect fit to scale our rapidly expanding operations in Oregon and Michigan.”
Tom Fortner’s experience goes back over 40 years. In 1980, he supported his wife’s vision to start a small greenhouse operation. Together, they built Willow Creek Greenhouses, a horticulture business specializing in bedding plants which served customers in Arizona, New Mexico, Colorado, Nevada, Utah and West Texas. Tom oversaw all operational components of the business and expanded Willow Creek from a small greenhouse to over 60 acres of greenhouse and outdoor growing area, where they supplied bedding plants year-round to their customers, who consisted of local nurseries and large box stores like Lowes and Home Depot.
After 20 years of growth, Willow Creek was purchased by Hines Horticulture in 1999. Tom stayed on as President of Hines Color Division, leading the seven, newly acquired independent color businesses until 2003. He oversaw sales growth from $117MM to $132MM and profit expansion from $21MM to $24MM. Through attention to team development, process development, strategic investment allocation, and cash management, Willow Creek Greenhouses and Hines enjoyed consistent, healthy profits while dominating the markets they served.
“Tom’s commitment to operational excellence, superior product quality, early adoption of electronic information systems, automation, and mechanization – combined with maintaining an inclusive employee culture – were the cornerstones of Willow Creek’s success. Grown Rogue couldn’t be happier to have Tom take over our production operations at our company,” said Strickler.
“I came out of retirement to join Grown Rogue because of the opportunity and the amazing team of people,” said Tom. “My experience is a perfect fit for them right now, as they rapidly scale production and have tripled capacity in the last six months. I believe my history and skills meld well with where the company is and wants go in the future.”