May 1, 2009
Around the IndustrySource: Various

Wisconsin Green Industry Federation Commemorates Member

Harry W. Radtke, a beloved member of the Wisconsin Green Industry Federation, died March 17 at age 74. He owned and operated W. & E. Radtke Perennial Nursery for 32 years and was always very helpful to people getting started in the industry, and that was one of the reasons he was inducted into the WGIF Hall of Fame in 2003.

Harry Radtke grew up in the family business. The family’s agricultural roots go back to 1852, when Harry’s ancestors grew vegetables on the outskirts of Milwaukee. The nursery relocated and expanded in 1970; eventually, the number of perennial and herb plants he grew reached more than a million every year, and his nursery became one of the largest wholesale growers in the state. In 1998, his children took ownership of the nursery, but Harry remained part of the operation every day, as long as his health permitted.

“As long as he could, he was here every day. And we found out it took three people to replace him,” remarked his daughter Liesl. He is survived by his wife, Marilyn; his children George Radtke, Liesl Thomas and Rhonda Weber; three grandchildren, Lianne, John and Arthur; and other family members and friends who will miss him dearly.

Rancho Tissue Technologies Enhances Team

Rancho Tissue Technologies has added to its team and strengthened its role as a cutting-edge plant-tissue culture facility that develops new and highly innovative, high-quality plant varieties.

Susana Vanzie-Canton is now managing director, allowing owner and founder Heather May to take on a higher-level role and increase her focus on the lab’s development and innovation activities.

As managing director, Vanzie-Canton will oversee day-to-day activities at the company and ensure the continued growth of its line of tissue-cultured products, including succulents, cut flowers, perennials, tropicals, ornamental grasses and other virus-indexed plants.

Vanzie-Canton joined RTT in 2007 as a researcher valued for her extensive experience in tissue culture, including developing plant tissue culture protocols and mutation induction protocols for several plant species. She holds a bachelor’s degree in microbiology from the University of Florida and a master’s degree in horticulture from the University of Hawaii at Manoa, Honolulu.

RTT also has made the following enhancements to its team:

  • Lee Chaille has been promoted to researcher.
  • Patrick Gutschow has been hired as research assistant.
  • Clare Henry has joined the company as office manager.

Established in 1987, RTT’s cutting edge, environmentally controlled laboratory and 40,000-square-foot greenhouse is designed to produce up to 4 million plants per year and offer a multitude of services, including multiplication of hard-to-propagate plants, development of new and improved cultivars, virus eradication through heat treatment and meristemming, and custom contract growing.

Sakata Adds to Transatlantic Ornamentals Team

Sakata recently added new positions to its sales and marketing team in the transatlantic ornamentals market of Europe and the U.S.

Marc Englert joined Sakata as senior flower sales and marketing manager. He will lead Sakata’s North American ornamentals sales and marketing team, including Australia and New Zealand. With an agricultural marketing degree from Holland University in the Netherlands and fluency in six languages, Marc contributes to an international perspective to the U.S.-based team.

Natalia Hamill has been appointed to the newly created retail category manager (ornamentals) role. She will work with Sakata’s distribution partners, growers and retailers to develop marketing programs. Hamill brings broad experience in horticultural marketing, including brand management and marketing strategy development, for other global horticultural companies. She earned a bachelor’s degree in horticulture from the University of Missouri and did masters work at the University of Georgia.

Oscar Rietkerk has been appointed transatlantic product manager for cut flowers and is based in the Netherlands. He brings solid experience in the global cut flower business, including the key markets of Europe and Africa.

Tracy Lee joins the Sakata ornamentals team as the North America bedding plant product manager. Tracy brings a rich background in horticulture management, including product management and marketing, brand development, merchandising and creative development, and strategic planning. She has served with the National Garden Bureau, All-America Selections and the American Seed Trades Association.

Sakata Seed Corporation, founded in 1913, is an industry leader in research, production and commercialization of flower and vegetable genetics. The corporation has a global presence including 32 subsidiary companies. For more information, visit

Valent Professional Products Adds to Florida Staff

Valent recently announced that Jerid Wendling has joined the company as a territory manager in Florida.

Wendling will focus on providing Valent’s line of professional products to horticultural, turf and lawn care professionals throughout Florida. The company’s extensive product portfolio continues to grow with nearly 20 products, including Safari Insecticide, Tourney Fungicide, Arena Insecticide, BroadStar Herbicide, SureGuard Herbicide, Overture Insecticide and Velocity Herbicide.

“As a former pest control operator with extensive knowledge of the marketplace, I look forward to helping Florida’s turf and ornamental professionals solve problems and achieve their goals,” Wendling said.

He has a degree in plant and soil science from Southern Illinois University – Carbondale and 17 years of experience in the plant-protection industry. Most recently, he served as a territory manager in Florida for Crop Production Services, Inc. and previously built a private pest control company from the ground up in the Tampa area into a business with 2,300 residential accounts.

For more information on Valent, visit the company’s website

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