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Bounty-full award celebration


January 28, 2008
By Greenhouse Canada

The
story of Allen Monsma is very much the story of the greenhouse industry
and technology change in the last half century. Monsma is this year’s
recipient of the Grower Of The Year award from Essex County Growers.
The award is being presented later this month during the Bounty Of The
County trade show and conference in Leamington.

The
story of Allen Monsma is very much the story of the greenhouse industry
and technology change in the last half century. Monsma is this year’s
recipient of the Grower Of The Year award from Essex County Growers.
The award is being presented later this month during the Bounty Of The
County trade show and conference in Leamington.

This year, as
A.M.A. Plastics celebrates its 25th anniversary, Monsma celebrates
nearly 50 years of involvement in various capacities of the greenhouse
and nursery trade. This quiet man of few words, with the “patience of
Job,” has a drive and determination that built a comfortable life for
his family and a successful and thriving business. He is an example to
others of successful leadership, widely known for his limitless
compassion, patience, charity, kindness, faith and loyalty.
Eelke
(Allen) and Sjoukje (Shirley) Monsma emigrated to Canada from the
Netherlands in 1956, arriving at a farm in Leamington with a few
personal items and about $56. Last year they celebrated their 50th
wedding anniversary. They put in a lot of hard work in those early
years, most of it farm related. They were soon blessed with the births
of daughters Connie (1960) and Audrey (1962).

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Not long after, they bought a greenhouse operation in Amherstburg, growing cut mums for the Detroit market.

In
1969, they eased out of growing and started Allen’s Fertilizer to
custom-blend fertilizers for greenhouse growers and farmers. He also
got into the trucking business at about this same time, transporting
fertilizer, flowers and general freight. The Monsmas also operated a
seasonal bedding plant stand in Hamilton for many years, with the help
of their daughters and future sons-in-law Rick Bradt (Connie) and Peter
deJong (Audrey).

By 1982, Allen starting selling nursery containers from his in-laws’ garage in nearby Ruthven.

A.M.A.
Plastics grew consistently as the result of their hard work. Plug trays
and turbo seeders were added to the product lineup. They did a lot of
custom flat filling and plug tray seeding in those early years, and
sold a lot of flats and inserts, still a fairly new product in the
bedding plant business at a time when many growers were more used to
fibre, wood or styrofoam boxes.

The business continued to
grow, yet the company remained pretty much a one-man show, with help
from Shirley when things were busy, as well as from their family. By
1992, Allen had developed Al’s Flower Pouch and found a manufacturer to
make it for him. A patent was applied for (and was finally granted 14
years later!) and he started selling a new growing container that many
said would never work. How wrong “they” were, as it has become a major
international success!

The Monsmas have enjoyed lengthy and
highly successful relatationships with such industry leaders as
Blackmore, Dillen and Cultilene.

In 1999, Skip Blackmore
insisted that Allen needed to buy the new Ellegaard machine to make
Ellepots, a “new” growing media for cuttings. Allen bought a small
machine and A.M.A. was in the Ellepot business. Ellepots had become a
big hit in North American propagation as growers were realizing the
benefits of stabilized media. A.M.A. has become the largest producer of
Ellepots on the continent and one of the largest in the world.

In
2005, plans for A.M.A. Hydroponics were beginning to take form as
relations with its European suppliers was strengthening and the
company’s hydroponics business was growing. A.M.A. Packaging was
launched in August 2006.

This past June, A.M.A. expanded its
associaton with Cultilene and took on the production of its stonewool
plug trays for much of the North American market.

A.M.A. is a
mid-size supplier of growing containers, growing media and seeding
equipment to the North American horticultural and nursery markets. It
also offers top quality tomato clips and truss supports, as well as
tomato, pepper and cucumber twines. Al’s Flower Pouch is sold through a
distribution network that includes Europe and the Australia and Asia
regions.

Most people will never know the many good things
Allen has done for others in his family and in his community over the
years, and that’s how he wants it. He is a reluctant recipient of the
2007 Essex County Associated Grower’s Award and is grateful to be in
the company of the many past award winners. He is most appreciative of
the tireless work of his employees, the dedication of suppliers, and
the loyalty of many longtime customers who have all contributed to
A.M.A.’s success.


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