“My biggest job is creating a culture,” he said.
Houweling is a hands-on boss as he works to create that culture.
He strives to learn all of the jobs he has to fill, even those of a technical nature.
“It’s my management style,” he said.
That approach can be all-consuming, he said, “but if you love your job, it makes it easier.”
Houweling has a firm grasp of the company’s priorities: No. 1 is growing tomatoes. No. 2 is making money to grow tomatoes.
“Some companies have that backwards,” he said, and focus more on making money.
“I don’t find that kind of a model very rewarding,” he said. “It’s not good for the long-term health of the business.”
While growing sustainably is important to Houweling, he emphasizes that sustainability must be economically viable.
The biggest challenge to implementing sustainable agriculture has been over-regulation, he said.
“The regulatory environment is devastating to American business,” Houweling said.
Government regulation should be the No. 1 issue in the presidential campaign, he added.
Regulations that “hamper business and are of no value to anybody” can discourage growers from implementing sustainable growing programs, he said.
Despite his accomplishments in the field of agriculture and environmentalism, Houweling said what he is most proud of is his family.
He and his wife, Linda, have three daughters, Rebecca, Monica and April.
Although Rebecca is embarking on a nursing career, and April, the youngest, remains undecided about her career path, Monica works at the company and has expressed an interest in continuing the legacy her father and grandfather have established.