Mark Foertmeyer accepting a 2017 Horticultural Industries Leadership Award (HILA) at Cultivate’17
Photo: Kimberly Rottmayer

In his role as the owner of Foertmeyer & Sons Greenhouse Co. in Delaware, Ohio, Mark Foertmeyer is tasked with running a greenhouse company, leading a team of employees and making tough decisions about what is best for the business. Recently, that meant shutting down Foertmeyer & Sons’ retail operation last year before deciding to team up with a local organization working to empower people with autism to re-open the retail business and have them staff it.

Below, Foertmeyer answers questions about his leadership philosophy, why it is centered on a desire to help others and more.

Greenhouse Management: How would you describe your leadership philosophy?

Mark Foertmeyer: I would say I would say it mostly comes down to my worldview and training I went through in understanding that good leaders have the mentality of serving versus having it all about them. I think my leadership philosophy is biblical. I believe it makes you work to make everybody better, to elevate others and to elevate your employees. And that just seems to work. It’s certainly not my idea, but it seems to be a better way than having to be on the top dictating how things should go. I think as a leader you do have to lead, but leading does come by serving and when you have that mentality, you lead better.

GM: You own a business, have a family and need time for yourself. How do you manage that variety of responsibilities?

MF: I don’t look at that as a real issue for me. I think some of the benefit of having this mentality of serving, as being a servant leader, takes care of a lot of that stuff. I certainly make time for myself or there’s time made for me, when necessary. I have somewhat of a daily routine. But I don’t agonize over that. I know there’s certain times of the year where it’s going to be incredibly busy and [I] accept that. You have to just execute, and there’s certainly downtime where you recharge.

GM: Where does your leadership strategy come from? Does it come from being in the industry for a long time or a particular experience you’ve had?

MF: I think my leadership is constantly changing and maturing and hopefully getting better and being challenged. I am what I am. I do believe realizing that leadership is sort of rooted and grounded in serving others, serving the improvement of the company more than anything, turned the light bulb on for me. It’s wonderful because you can start looking at things in so many different ways. You start out on task with that mentality and it keeps opening up better ways to take care of certain things too. To me, it’s eternal.