Atlas’ Bill Mathis: Humble and hardworking, family-first

Faces of the Industry - Advertorial

From broad acre crops to greenhouse production, Bill Mathis is in a good spot and he wouldn’t have it any other way.

October 25, 2021

Atlas Greenhouses national sales manager Bill Mathis took a circuitous path to the greenhouse industry, and yet it seems he was always meant to be a part of it.

“Yes, I am a farm kid, but it (joining Atlas) was completely out of left field,” says Mathis, who was selling fertilizer and crop inputs for a large farm supply co-op prior to joining Atlas as a sales manager. “At the time I didn’t know a greenhouse from an outhouse. Controlled environment was not even in my vocabulary.”

That all changed that fateful day 18 growing seasons ago, when Atlas founder Johnny Browning, who had some cattle and farmland that Mathis helped him secure inputs for, walked into Mathis’ office and made him the offer that would change his career path in agriculture.

“It’s really been a breath of fresh air for me, coming into an exciting and growing industry,” Mathis recalls. “The world I came from, selling commodity products to commodity growers, it’s all about bottom line price and service and who could sell it and deliver it the fastest.”

Mathis enjoys the day-to-day variations that the greenhouse industry provides.

“You’ve got everything from the backyard guy tinkering with a small greenhouse to the vegetable growers in high tunnels, all the way to these giant, sophisticated ornamental growers and vertical farmers using the most advanced technologies in these modern commercial greenhouses,” he says.

Another facet of working in the greenhouse industry that Mathis finds stimulating is the trade show travel circuit. He hopes the subsiding COVID numbers will facilitate a mass return to industry networking events in 2022.

“Even with COVID and the economy tanking and prices going through the roof, it was amazing to me that sales just continued to grow — none of these negatives really slowed our business down in any measurable way.”

Who is Bill Mathis?

Mathis, 58, has been married to his wife Trish for 15 years now. They’ve got four adult daughters that all live within a couple hours of the farm they were raised on. Three granddaughters also keep things interesting, and, as Mathis says with a chuckle, there’s no shortage of estrogen around the homestead these days.

“Yeah, we’re still pretty tight knit,” he adds. “One daughter lives about two hours away, but she’s a nurse so she has some flexibility to come home and see us pretty much every week, and then another daughter still lives here on the farm with us, and another one lives a half hour away.”

Growing up in South Georgia and then in Northern Florida, Mathis was really into fishing and hopes to get back into the hobby once his schedule will allow it. He and his wife enjoy camping trips with their daughters and grandkids on the weekends, and they all get together annually to go shrimping on Jekyll Island.

“Last year we came home with four 48-quart coolers filled to the brim,” he practically beams through the phone. “We split them up and gift them out.”

Mathis, who notes that he is a Florida Gator fan living behind enemy lines in Georgia Bulldog country, likes to keep things simple when it comes to his free time. Weekends with the grandkids and spending time helping his wife in the backyard garden are all the excitement he requires these days.

“I’m a pretty down to earth guy,” he says. “I live about 3 1/2 miles from the office, so my world is pretty small and right now, that’s just fine by me.”