May Farm News Member Profile Grow West

Written By: Brytann Busick
Published: May 1, 2020

Grow West, which formally operated as AG Unlimited and Agro Tech representing 30 years in Sonoma County, began doing business under its new name in February 2019. The company operates throughout Northern California with 5 North Coast Stores as well as locations from Walnut Grove to Maxwell along the I-5 corridor.

Mike Boer is the Sales Manager for the North Coast. He graduated from Davis in 1982 with a Plant Science Viticulture Degree. About 20 years ago he started working in the agricultural chemical industry as a consultant. 

“I do integrated pest management and viticultural consulting, including site evaluation for the winegrape industry,” Boer said. “I was a partner in AgUnlimited in the early 2000s then we were sold to the company that eventually became Grow West.”

Today, he leads 13 salesmen and women who always strive to see the grower’s perspective in their work as consultants. Boer, who has his own vineyard, said that he works hard to help his staff see problems and solutions as if they had “skin in the game” as he and their customers do. 

Boer’s family has grown winegrapes since 1946 in Mendocino County and he served on the Mendocino County Winegrowers Alliance, the Mendocino County Resource Conservation District and served for 15 years on the California Association of Winegrape Growers Board.

He said that one thing that sets their company apart is that, like him, some of Grow West’s PCAs own vineyards and therefore the company can bring the vineyard owner’s perspective to their business approach. 

“On the North Coast we work with vineyard management companies, some owner-operators, and several 10-50 acre winegrape growers,” Boer said.  

Guided by its core values of integrity, respect, teamwork, relationships, and work ethic, Grow West offers vertically integrated service areas and offerings and an extensive line of products for over 50 crops that the company helps customers protect, optimize and improve. 

“Overall, everyone in this industry has items from the national product line, so when it comes to pest control we are all pretty much selling the same stuff,” Boer said. “What we bring to the table that is unique and valuable for our customers is a different perspective about how to use the same product.” 

Grow West’s team is comprised of highly trained and locally-experienced agronomists who deliver diverse, comprehensive solutions that maximize ROI, reduce complexity and foster environmental stewardship. The company sells fertilizers and crop protection materials as well as animal feed and cover crop seed. 

Boer said that, ultimately, he considers Grow West’s employees to be the company’s biggest asset. 

“We don’t just sell products,” Boer explained. “Our goal is not just to sell things. It is to help our customers make money and provide them with disease-free crops and the best solutions. We strive to provide excellent advice and information to our growers.”

The local team consists of 15 Pest Control Advisors who work in Lake, Mendocino, Sonoma, Napa, and Marin Counties.

“Collectively we represent over 300 years of experience in North Coast viticulture and pest control,” Boer said. “About a quarter of us have degrees in viticulture and we all have pest control advisor licenses. All but one of us is a CCA certified crop advisor.”

Grow West’s employees attend courses to maintain the continuing education requirements of their certifications, learn from product vendors, and glean information from the University o California, Washington State University, and Cornell. Boer said that this is what keeps his team on the cutting edge. 

“Very often we also sponsor our own in house training and will have a speaker come in to teach us about a specific topic,” Boer said. “We also do our annual grower meeting to provide education on interesting topics. It’s important to use to stay ahead of the curve and to provide our employees and customers with information that will enable them to succeed.”

Boer said that he enjoys his career, especially because he likes the challenge of solving problems. 

“Every grower has challenges,” Boer said, “That’s just the nature of farming. You start out with a blank slate then start walking through the decision tree. I enjoy getting to the bottom of mysteries to help people maximize their quality.”

Grow West grows more than crops though. The company has a proud history of being producers as well as supporters of the community. The company supports more than 80 organizations in 15 counties in California and is a Farm Bureau member. 

“We support our local youth through Farm Bureau and other youth-related activities,” Boer said. “We also offer an annual internship program for qualified individuals seeking employment in our industry.”

Boer, who received the Farm Bureau scholarship when he was in college, said that he has been a longtime supporter of the organization. 

“I am a Farm Bureau member because of the advocacy work the organization can do at the local and state level,” Boer said. “I think that having the clout of the California Farm Bureau Federation and American Farm Bureau Federation working for growers is the most important reason to be a member. We support it and everybody should.”

To learn more about Grow West visit their website https://www.growwest.com/

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