Garden Center Executive Summit 2020 Advisory Board

We are pleased to introduce you to the Garden Center Executive Summit 2020 Advisory Board.

Advisory Board
Susan Bachman

Susan Bachman West

Susan Bachman West, a 26-year company veteran and the first woman to serve as Bachman’s president, oversees overall planning, merchandising, and marketing of perishable products (annuals, perennials, blooming plants, green plants and cut flowers), and leads the teams in Bachman’s Floral Design and Weddings and Special Events departments. She also manages Bachman’s production and wholesale operations. Susan is the great, great grand-daughter of Bachman’s founders, Henry and Hattie Bachman, and a member of the fifth generation. Her current role was announced in the April 2016. She joined Bachman’s full-time in 1997 as a manager trainee at Bachman’s Eden Prairie Floral, Home and Garden Center. She has served in numerous management positions since that time, most recently as vice president of perishable merchandising and floral design, learning the family business from the ground up. In addition to six major garden centers, Bachman’s operates 27 outlets at the grocery store chain Lunds & Byerlys, and a floral, gift and card store in downtown Minneapolis.

Frank Benzing

Frank Benzing
President & CEO
SummerWinds Nursery

Frank started at SummerWinds Garden Centers Inc. in 2001 in store operations. In 2003, he was promoted to president and COO, and in 2007, he began his current role as president and CEO. Frank enjoys being associated with people who continually discover ways to improve both customers’ shopping experiences and the culture of their workplace. “I love being married to my wife, Marion, being a father to my daughter, Samantha, the thrill of mountain bike and road bike racing, and clearing my head while back country skiing,” Frank says. SummerWinds Nursery, with three locations in Arizona and three locations in California, is No. 13 on Garden Center magazine’s 2018 Top 100 Independent Garden Centers list.

Mark Bigej
Chief of Operations
Al's Garden & Home

Mark Bigej is the Chief of Operations for Al’s Garden & Home and Greenhouses, LLC. Mark is a native Oregonian and responsible for the four retail operations of this venerable Willamette Valley Garden Center, which started in Woodburn in 1948. The grandson of Al & Ann Bigej, Mark works alongside his father and sisters to ensure that Al’s Garden & Home provides the plant quality and customer service that Al’s customers have come to expect.

Mark is the past president of the Oregon Association of Nurseries and has served on the Garden Centers of America Board. Mark received his Bachelor of Science in Horticulture from Oregon State University in Corvallis, Oregon and enjoys family life with his wife Amy and their five children.

Richard Christakes
Alsip Home & Nursery

Richard is a second-generation owner of one of the nation’s largest volume retail garden centers, with locations in Frankfort, Ill. and St. John, Ind. An Indiana State Certified Horticulturist, talk radio host and CEO of Alsip, Richard brings nearly 20 years of industry experience and a passion for the industry to the Garden Center Editorial Advisory Board. Richard has helped lead Alsip in developing a successful pet division and also offers a popular grooming service on-site at both locations. He also launched Alsip's Landscape Contractor Sales division in 2007 that has grown to a $3 million division. Alsip also has a robust e-commerce component, which the company started in 2015. Richard helped start True Mtn Marketing and True Mtn Social, which together are a full-service digital advertising agency that specializes in website development,  e-commerce integration, social media marketing, videography and brand development/graphic design. True Mtn has built several websites in the horticulture industry including and Alsip Home & Nursery is No. 16 on Garden Center magazine’s 2018 Top 100 list.


Mick Mulhall

Mick Mulhall

Mick is the president of Mulhall’s, an Omaha, Nebraska-based garden retailer and landscape contractor. Mick’s grandfather immigrated from Ireland in 1953 to landscape, and now, three generations later, the team at Mulhall’s is as committed as they’ve ever been to making Omaha a more beautiful place to live. Today they’re a few hundred people, but the focus remains the same: working together to engage their community and share their passion for the beauty of the natural world.

Rob Sproule

Rob Sproule
Salisbury Greenhouse

Rob Sproule is co-owner and marketing director of Salisbury Greenhouse, a 2018 Top 100 Independent Garden Center based in Alberta, Canada. He's a speaker, marketing consultant, and author of four gardening books and hundreds of articles. His core job is to be constantly learning, both for his garden center and his agency, DIG Marketing. He lives in Edmonton with his wife and two young children.

Tammy Behm

Tammy Behm
Owner and Managing Director
Maypop Coffee & Garden Shop

Tammy Behm is owner and managing director at the recently opened Maypop Coffee & Garden Shop in the greater St. Louis area. Maypop is a modern garden center concept inspired by garden centers around the world that seek to integrate plants and community through experiences. Prior to Maypop, Tammy spent nearly 7 years as horticulture manager at Greenscape Gardens & Gifts in Manchester, Mo. She has her BA in Biology from Washington University in St. Louis and also studied horticulture at the Missouri Botanical Garden.