In 1950, Adriaan (Andy) Olsthoorn travelled from Holland to Canada with both a vision and a passion to create his own greenhouse operation. Andy found work wherever he could as a labourer, picking tobacco, and mining whatever it took to raise the money he needed to realize his dream.
Persistent, determined and supported by a loving wife, Rita, Andy started Lakeshore Produce, along with some friends from De Lier. Realizing the potential of the vast US market, in 1964, Andy began knocking on doors of major supermarket buyers.
Over time, the flower business evolved with Andy at the forefront of emerging markets. As consumer demand shifted from holidays to year-round purchases, Andy expanded his wholesale flower operation. He brought on additional growers to help meet the increasing demand for flowers and vegetables, as well.
At peak season, Lakeshore Inc. employs 400 people and contracts with over 100 growers throughout Southern Ontario. Lakeshore Inc. has grown to become the largest of its kind in Canada with four divisions now comprising the corporation: Floral Lake, Lakeshore Produce, Lakeshore 2 and Lakeshore 3 (in South Carolina). In 1985, Andy sold Lakeshore Inc. to his sons, Neil and Jim, and set his sights on a new challenge. Together with his Dutch partners, he built St. David’s Hydroponics’ first plant. In 1996, he built the second plant in Vineland, bringing total production to over one million square feet of hydroponic peppers. To Andy, a handshake was golden. He loved “the art of the deal”. As Niagara’s pioneer of the greenhouse industry, Andy’s deals have lead to great prosperity. Today, the greenhouse industry is one of the region’s fastest growing and largest industries. Andy Olsthoorn died on December 8, 1998. Andy and Rita have five children and nine grandchildren. In all of them, Andy’s entrepreneurial spirit is thriving.