This year marks Turf & Rec’s second consecutive mission to find the best young talent in the industry in Canada who have yet to reach their 40th birthdays. Whether they are employed in the golf, landscaping, sports turf or other sector of the industry, these chosen individuals have made significant contributions to their profession over the years and are setting an example for their peers, paving the way for the next wave of up-and-coming professionals.
Turf & Rec wishes to thank The Toro Company for its sponsorship of the Top 10 Under 40 program.
The following young individuals constitute our “top 10 class of 2019,” listed alphabetically.
Trevor Anderson, 33, superintendent, Mount Bruno Country Club, St. Bruno de Montarville, Que.
Anderson’s interest in turfgrass management flourished during his early teenage years while working for Doug Meyer at Beaconsfield Golf Club, outside of Montreal. He began as a labourer, progressed to student intern and then ascended to second assistant superintendent following his graduation from the University of Guelph.
The year 2005 was a significant year for Anderson who, aside from his graduation, received scholarships from the Canadian Golf Superintendents Association and L’Association des surintendants de golf du Québec, and was a finalist for Toro’s Future Superintendent of the Year honour.
From Montreal, Anderson joined ClubLink and took a position at the Kanata Golf & Country Club near Ottawa. After five years there, he moved back to Quebec to become superintendent at the Club de Golf Le Fontainebleau where Champions Tour events were held in 2010 and 2011.
His career has progressed rapidly and has led to his current and challenging post at the exclusive Mount Bruno Country Club. The club insists on holistic approaches toward turfgrass management and course conditioning, and Anderson and his team have met the challenge by reducing pesticide use and integrating alternative management protocols.
He also contributes as a member of the ASGQ’s board of directors and is pursuing a degree in environmental management at Columbia Southern University.
Ross Baron, 33, field manager, Nat Bailey Stadium, Vancouver, B.C.
A turfgrass management graduate of the University of Guelph, Baron was honoured in 2017 as sports turf manager of the year for the Northwest Baseball League, charged with looking after the grounds at Nat Bailey Stadium for the Vancouver Canadians professional baseball team.
He has earned significant praise for his leadership and management of the team’s new field construction project. Baron was an outstanding student whose internship was with Major League Baseball’s Washington Nationals of the National League.
Baron began his position at Nat Bailey Stadium in February of 2017 following three years as field manager with the City of Kelowna. His arrival in Vancouver coincided with a major renovation project at the stadium in which improved drainage and a more even playing surface topped the list of upgrades. He brought in 600 tons of sand, tore out the infield and foul territories, and created channels to more adequately filter water from the outfield.
While most of his fellow university graduates chose a career in golf, Baron was determined to focus on sports turf from the outset.
Amanda Gillies, 24, director of sales and marketing, Maritime Green Products, Moncton, N.B.
Gillies is looked upon as part of the next generation of female leaders in the industry. As a key component of the family owned and operated distribution company, Maritime Green Products (MGP), she currently holds the position of director of sales and marketing.
Owned by the Gillies family, MGP operates out of Moncton and is recognized as a leading supplier to golf courses, municipalities and landscape contractors across Eastern Canada.
Gillies holds a business administration degree from Crandall University and recently graduated from the Rutgers professional turfgrass management program. The combination of her business acumen and passion for the turfgrass industry is said to be contagious, and she is one to watch in the years to come.
She is passionate about her customers and helps to problem-solve with them. Her first exposure to turf and horticulture came via the company’s wholly owned Sun Nurseries. Exposed to plants at a young age by her father, she began to absorb knowledge from him, allowing her love of plants and turfgrass to flourish.
In her spare time, Gillies likes to strum her acoustic guitar next to a campfire.
Joel Henderson, 31, superintendent, Sarnia Golf & Curling Club, Sarnia, Ont.
Henderson was unexpectedly put into the position of superintendent at the Sarnia club in the summer of 2017 when its longtime superintendent tragically lost his life while working at the golf course. Assistant superintendent at the time, Henderson ascended the ladder under the worst possible circumstances.
While maintaining the high standards set by his predecessor, he became a source of strength for those affected by the tragedy. What was once a cohesive grounds team that provided a finely conditioned golf course had become a family bonded by grief with Henderson at the helm. Meals, stories and time were shared, with Henderson making himself available as leader, mentor and friend to not only his team but to everyone at the club affected by the loss.
As a professional, Henderson is always looking to improve, learn and implement best cultural practices and is the driving force behind the club’s ongoing movement towards greater environmental sustainability. He has greatly reduced the usage of chemicals and pesticides and increased the use of organic agents. It was his idea to use trees that had been cut on the course to manufacture cutting boards and tee block markers branded with the Sarnia club logo.
When the club acquired beehives to increase the number of pollinating insects, Henderson – under the tutelage of a local beekeeper – became the club apiarist.
His contributions to the golf club extend beyond his own department. He plays a key role in the club’s joint health and safety committee and developed a course emergency plan for all members, guests and employees. When the club launched its inaugural Santa Claus parade pre-party, he acquired the wagon, decorated it and provided it with Christmas music for the enjoyment of children wishing a ride. With the help of his team, he also put together the club’s inaugural family outdoor night with a fire pit to allow for the enjoyment of s’mores by everyone.
Outside of the club, Henderson coaches minor hockey and raises funds for local charities.
Stephen Hicks, 32, superintendent, Brantford Golf & Country Club, Brantford, Ont.
Originally from Middleton, N.S., Hicks currently resides in Cambridge, Ont. with his wife Jenica. He learned the game of golf at Paragon Golf & Country Club in Kingston, N.S. and worked on the grounds crew there for five seasons while a student.
After graduating from Acadia University with a bachelor-of-science degree in mathematics and statistics, he opted to pursue his passion for golf and turfgrass by enrolling in the University of Guelph’s associate diploma in turfgrass management program. Graduating with honours in 2010, he accepted a position at Bayview Golf & Country Club in Thornhill, Ont. as assistant golf course manager – a position he held until February 2015 before moving on to the Dundas Valley Golf & Curling Club.
In 2018, he became superintendent at the Brantford Golf & Country Club and has adopted a holistic master planning process to the fold.
Hicks is an involved alumnus of the University of Guelph program, an annual speaker for Turf Club, a writer for the Ontario Golf Superintendents Association’s On Course magazine and is usually one of the first Canadians selected to attend new leadership series from the United States. He has been part of Syngenta’s Assistant Super U, the Green Start Academy and Nu Farm’s Excel Leadership Series.
Dave Jacobsen, 37, assistant superintendent, Bearspaw Golf Club, Calgary, Alta.
Jacobsen, a graduate of the University of Guelph’s diploma in turfgrass management program, tends to fly under the radar. He is known among his peers for his amicable personality and remarkable intelligence. Since his arrival at the golf course in February 2015, he has changed the culture of the team through inspiration, leadership and motivation. He understands the staff’s strengths, weaknesses and abilities and shapes their work schedule to enhance performance.
Club superintendent Darren Reddekopp said Jacobsen has established a connection with all staff, allowing him to emerge as a leader. This has led to staff retention of about 70 per cent, ensuring consistency to meet member expectations.
Bearspaw Golf Club has been undergoing some significant transformations with much of the work being done in house, and a lot of it spearheaded by Jacobsen. He has actually been wearing two “hats” of late, assisting with golf course operations and maintenance and heading up landscaping and golf course construction the past year during the building of a new clubhouse.
“Dave is hard working, loyal, and inspiring to our staff,” Reddekopp said. “Having Dave as a part of my team means I never have to worry. He understands the needs and expectations of our members and our course. He is forward looking and constantly evaluating course conditions and what we need to do to improve. He has built a team with a vast skill set and that has been with us for numerous years. This allows us to branch into other areas such as facilities maintenance and golf course construction operations. This allows us to save money but more importantly build and enhance the skill of our team while providing future learning opportunities for our staff.”
Jacobsen is also known for his golf playing skills and often wins something in most industry tournaments in which he plays, including the 2018 Canadian Golf Superintendents Association’s fall field day tournament.
Kevin Moores, 33, superintendent, Oakfield Golf & Country Club, Halifax, N.S.
Born in Cole Harbour, N.S., Moores’ love of turf began at the age of 16. His ascent to becoming a golf superintendent was rapid and is a testament to his skill set and thoughtful approach.
He graduated from the University of Guelph’s turfgrass management program in 2012. As part of his studies, he completed an internship at Quail Hollow Golf Club in Charlotte, N.C. – site of the PGA Tour’s Wells Fargo Championship. Upon graduation, he was hired by the Weston Golf & Country Club in Toronto and shortly afterward took a position as assistant superintendent at the Ashburn Golf Club in Halifax. In 2015, he was offered the assistant superintendent’s position at the Oakfield Golf & Country Club to begin a new challenge.
Moores moved up the ladder the following season, becoming superintendent at the club. He recently joined the Atlantic Golf Superintendents Association’s board of directors and is excited about being host superintendent this summer for a PGA Mackenzie Tour event.
When he’s not busy at Oakfield, he spends his time with his fiancé Jessica and stepdaughter Claire and enjoys playing golf and softball as well as weighlifting.
Miranda (Moe) Robinson, 34, assistant superintendent, Cordova Bay Golf Course, Victoria, B.C.
An advocate for mental health, anxiety and women in turf, Robinson recently accepted a new position as assistant superintendent at Cordova Bay Golf Course in Victoria, B.C.
She has been featured on numerous podcasts, is the author of several articles in Golfdom and Golf Course Industry magazines, and is highly engaged on social media – namely Twitter where she has been named among the leading influential turf personalities.
Robinson bucks the trend of the superintendent known to dress in khaki pants, a collared shirt and blazer, and instead is more comfortable wearing an Iron Maiden T-shirt, jeans and running shoes.
Prior to joining the team at Cordova Bay, she was superintendent at Summerlea Golf Club in Port Perry, Ont. where she was a jack-of-all-trades – turning wrenches, grinding reels, applying fertilizer and pesticides, and looking after irrigation. At Summerlea, she worked with little budget and a small crew. All the while she simultaneously served as consulting superintendent for the nearby nine-hole Western Trent Golf Course.
Robinson employs a minimalistic management style and is often forced to be resourceful on a shoestring budget.
Simon Rosas-Leon, 20, owner-operator, Top Notch Yard Care, Winnipeg, Man.
Rosas-Leon is slowly collecting a long list of commercial and residential customers for his business. Unlike some other companies that offer snow clearing services, he has been found to clear snow for customers even after clearing the same driveways the night before, only to return again the next day.
One of his customers remarked, “I really appreciate that in a snow-heavy winter like this one, it has made my life easier coming in and out of the garage.”
Personable and friendly, Rosas-Leon continues to expand his array of services. In addition to lawn care and snow removal, he cleans gutters, refreshes existing landscapes and builds patios, leaving each job site clean and tidy.
Prior to establishing his own business, the young entrepreneur was innovative in finding, fixing and reselling string trimmers and other tools. He is always looking for ways to deepen his knowledge of the industry and expand his business.
Rosas-Leon’s true start in the business began when he was 13. He found a few abandoned lawn mowers, fixed them up with the help of his father and put them to use mowing lawns in his neighbourhood. While a Grade 12 student, he became an apprentice with ABC Power Tools through a school program where he honed his skills in dealing with people. That same year, he took the Manitoba Arborists’ training and licensing course at the University of Manitoba and offers arborist services to his customers as well. His other services include lawn maintenance, landscaping, vegetation management and snow and ice management.
He said his business was built on two fundamental beliefs: that quality and reliability are the essence of superior service.
Frank Shang, 39, owner, MRD Landscaping Inc., Vancouver, B.C.
From landscaper to television and radio personality to beekeeper to winemaker, Shang has had an unconventional career. He is the founder and owner of MRD Landscaping Inc. and the Vancouver Horticulture Club. Additionally, he is CEO and co-founder of Fraser Sun Winery that focuses on blueberry wine products.
He has communicated relevant issues on horticulture through various social networks and has served as a bridge between the Chinese and Canadian landscape communities.
Shang is a certification judge of British Columbia Landscape & Nursery Association (BCLNA) for the Canadian certified landscape technician test since 2011. He became one of seven judges of the B.C. Landscape Excellence Awards of the BCLNA in 2016 and has been a judge for the Mandarin Profile Awards of Fairchild TV since 2015.
His long list of awards include: the 2017 B.C. Garden Communicator of the Year Award, a top 75 finalist of the ninth annual RBC Top 25 Canadian Immigrant Awards in 2017, the 2016 Young Entrepreneur of the Year of the Richmond Chamber of Commerce’s 39th annual Business Excellence Awards, 2015 Young Member Award winner for the BCLNA, a 2015 honouree among the the Top 50 Most Influential Chinese in Vancouver, and the 2014 Person of the Year in the Chinese Community of Canada (Global Chinese Press).
MRD Landscaping Inc.’s awards include: 2018 Best Landscaping Business in Richmond (Best of Richmond Award), 2018 Best Landscaping Business in Vancouver Westside (Stars of Vancouver Award), and five merit awards with the National Association of Landscape Professionals Awards of Excellence since 2016.
The Vancouver Horticulture Club Inc.’s awards include the 2018 Environmentally Responsible Business Award (Stars of Vancouver Award).