Lifetime Achievement Alumni 2002 William (Bill) Vermeer

Bill Vermeer came to Canada from Holland in 1952 with a background in greenhouse growing. Upon his arrival, he deferred his childhood dreams of owning his own greenhouse business to support his family by working factory and construction jobs. In 1959, he had the opportunity to return to his greenhouse roots, and was employed by Westbrook Greenhouses Limited. He quickly became a partner and acquired 100% ownership in 1971.

The company continued to expand its production area, ventured into the floral wholesale distribution side of the industry and ultimately began designing and manufacturing greenhouses and greenhouse operating systems.

The company also took a partnership interest in two New York State corporations to support its production and marketing efforts. Thus The Westbrook Group of Companies was formed and is today considered a leader in the North American floriculture industry. As an industry leader, Bill has always shared his talents and resources for the benefit of the entire industry. He has served on floral industry committees at both the provincial and federal levels and as President of Flowers Canada, Ontario. He has supported industry education, research and development with his involvement at the Horticultural Research Institute in Vineland, the University of Guelph and Niagara College. He is also a founding supporter of the Canadian Ornamental Plant Foundation and the Canadian Greenhouse Conference.

In addition to his industry involvement, Bill has been a member of the Niagara Regional Development Corporation, supported numerous activities within the Town of Grimsby and is an active member of his church community. Bill has received a Cecil Delworth Research Foundation “Living Tribute” award for his lifetime contribution to the Canadian Floriculture Industry and the Bicentennial Certificate of Merit from the Ministry of Agriculture and Food.