Walters Gardens to Transition to New Generation of Leadership
Walters Gardens recently announced to its staff plans to transition leadership from the current CEO, John Walters, to Karin Walters, his daughter who is currently the company’s vice president of product strategy.
John will retain his role as CEO until October 1, 2022, when he will take on a new role as executive chairman of the board, according to a news release from the company.
Karin Walters is a member of a third-generation leadership team at Walters Gardens that includes Chief Operations Officer Ryan Hop, and Christa Steenwyk, vice president of marketing and industry relationships, according to news release.
Since the executive team at Walters Gardens began succession planning in 2019, it has been a focus to intentionally transition from a smaller company at the helm of one leader, to a larger company mindset guided by a cohesive team of leaders in Karin, Ryan, and Christa. Under John’s leadership, Walters Gardens has grown from a smaller company mainly serving the Midwest — through bare root sales, mail order, and packaged perennials — to a respected international presence in the industry, according to the release.
“It’s been a long process of planning, especially since I love this company and industry so much,” John Walters said in the news release. “I’m proud to say that I have a great deal of confidence that not only Karin will do a great job as CEO, but with Ryan Hop and Christa Steenwyk (and myself) rounding out the Executive Leadership Team, Walters Gardens is in a strong position for the future with such a team.”
“I am excited to take on this new role in October and continue to build the dream our family has been working on for many years with the help and support of Christa and Ryan,” Karin Walters said in the news release.
The three next-generation members all took new responsibilities in 2019. As vice president of product strategy, Karin Walters has been overseeing taking new perennial products to production and the strategic product lineup of Walters Gardens’ portfolio. Ryan Hop as COO has focused on production and continuous improvement in both processes and technology. Christa Steenwyk serves as the Vice President of Marketing and Industry Relations where her focus has been on plant marketing, managing international licensing, and overseeing North American sales.
Above, Walters Gardens Executive Team members, from the left, are Ryan Hop, chief operations officer; Christa Steenwyk, vice president of marketing and customer relations; John Walters, chief executive officer; Karin Walters, vice president of product strategy. Photo: Walters Gardens