After a career spanning five decades, Karl Stensson announced recently that he will be stepping down as CEO and president of Sheridan Nurseries. In announcing his retirement plans, Stensson stated that, “It has been an [honor] to have worked with so many talented and dedicated people at Sheridan to help the company grow into the leader that it is today.”
Stensson spent eight summers working in Sheridan Garden Centres during high school and college. After graduating with a bachelor's degree in landscape architecture from the University of Guelph, Stensson joined Toronto as a parks planner and shortly thereafter moved to the North York City as coordinator of Park Planning and Design.
In 1976, he answered a call to return to Sheridan as wholesale sales manager and remained in that position until he took over retail operations in 1984. He was later appointed V.P. Retail Operations and subsequently became president in 2009 and then CEO and President in 2015. Sheridan now has eight retail garden centers and more than 900 acres of farmland, and is No. 6 on Garden Center magazine's 2017 Top 100 Independent Garden Centers List.
During his career, Stensson was a staunch industry supporter serving on the Landscape Ontario Board from 1978 to 1985 becoming President in 1979. He also served on the board of the Canadian Nursery Trades Association from 1978 to 2001 (which subsequently became the Canadian Nursery Landscape Association) becoming President in 1989-1990.
Stensson furthered his association involvement by becoming president of the Landscape Ontario Horticultural Trades Foundation from 1982-1984 and President of the Canadian Garden Council in 1991-1992. He has served on the LO Insurance Committee for over 30 years and as chair of the Landscape Ontario Building Committee for the past 12 years.
Stensson has received many awards, including:
- The Frank Ewald Jr., Nursery Award in 1980, presented to someone under 30 years of age, for outstanding contribution to Landscape Ontario.
- The Landscape Ontario Trillium Award in 1994 for outstanding support of the Horticultural Industry and Landscape Ontario.
- Honorary Life Member of Landscape Ontario in 1998.
- CNLA President’s Award in 2010 for lifelong and outstanding contribution to the industry.
Most recently, Stensson was honored in 2015 as being the University of Guelph Alumnus of Honor for ‘achieving excellence through outstanding accomplishments and exemplary contributions to society that bring credit to the University of Guelph’.
Over the past several months, the board of directors of Sheridan Nurseries have conducted an extensive search for Stensson's replacement and will shortly announce his successor. Stensson will continue in a reduced capacity as vice executive chairman and director of brand integrity for Sheridan.
Asked what he plans to do with his extra time, Stensson will be pursuing positions on corporate boards as well as spending time golfing and cooking with his wife Valerie and spending a lot more time with his grandchildren.