5 Minutes With … Lawson Thalmann

November/December 2022
5 Minutes With … Lawson Thalmann By Teresa McPherson

Lawson Thalmann is business technology manager at Chalet in the North Shore of Chicago.

Lawson Thalmann is the fourth generation of his family to be involved in running the business.

What is the most rewarding part of your job?

As business technology manager, I provide our people and teams with the tools to reach their full potential. We have a lot of incredible people, but it sometimes takes shaking up the way we do things to reinvigorate and improve both the employee and customer experience. For me, that process is the most rewarding.

What keeps you up at night?

Both from a positive and negative standpoint, I’m thinking about where the world and our business will be in five to 10 years. I see a lot of glimmers of hope, but there are many frightening trends as well if we’re not prepared and thinking ahead. Unfortunately, we tend to be good at planning for the next season, but not as good much further than that.

As a family business, what measures do you take to separate the family part from the business part?

I wouldn’t say we’re the best at this, but typically when we’re eating dinner or doing something social, we make an effort to talk about things unrelated to the business. Without that, we could easily think and talk about the business 24/7 and that’s probably not healthy.

What advice would you give to someone just starting out in hort?

Don’t be afraid to ask the tough questions. Our businesses can benefit greatly from new perspectives. For example, for the “green” industry, we have a lot of not-so-green practices like our use of plastic pots. The next generation has the potential to challenge these practices — and with enough of a groundswell, can gain traction.

What’s something that few people know about you?

I love composting. I have a composting unit called SubPod both on my balcony in the city and at our farm. So I’m able to throw food scraps directly into the unit that’s built into a raised planter where worms will consume it in a matter of days or weeks, turning it into rich, black humus for the garden.

Favorite plant to grow? Why?

I love growing veggies in general. I grow a wide variety at Chalet’s farm, but if I had to pick one, it’s probably tomatoes. It’s fun to try the many varieties. It’s enough of a challenge to keep things interesting. And there’s a lot you can do with them in the kitchen.

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Teresa McPherson

Teresa McPherson is the managing editor of Lawn & Garden Retailer. Contact her at [email protected].