Jeff Peterson of Petaluma’s Hydrofarm wins CFO award

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Jeff Peterson


Hydrofarm, LLC

2249 S. McDowell Blvd., Petaluma 94954


Jeff Peterson of Petaluma’s Hydrofarm wins one of North Bay Business Journal’s 2017 North Bay CFO Awards.

Education: Bachelor’s degree in accounting, California State University Sacramento

What do you see as the essential role of a financial leader in the current environment?

A financial leader in today’s environment requires more than a financial background. First and foremost is the ability to practice effective communication skills. It requires active participation to engage the people in your environment; minimize usage of email or texts. A financial leader should also identify key driving components of the enterprise and focus on those members of management who can influence those goals, and they need to listen.

What are the biggest changes you’ve seen in your industry?

The biggest changes have been in the advancement product lines and the underlying technology as well as the current consolidation and interest in the various segments of our industry. Both of which require significant cash and management resources to be allocated in order remain competitive and in our current market position.

Tell us about the particular challenges and opportunities your organization has met in the recent past.

Dedicating resources to appropriate growth strategies while keeping an eye on the business is always a challenge. As growth occurs and managerial bandwidth is stretched, finding quality individuals to relieve that pressure on management becomes a critical function. The management team here has done an excellent job of recasting the internal management structure as well as identifying top external talent to enhance our management team.

What advice would you give to young emerging financial leaders?

Listen, compile and act.

Listen to the what your peers, managers and associates are saying. Gather the inputs whatever they may be.

Compile the inputs on the subject weighing each piece of information and determining how it fits into the overall situation at hand.


In business and in personal life, often the failure starts when listening stops too early. However, you’ll miss the opportunity if you don’t move on fast enough.

What’s the best advice for weathering today’s economic environment?

Keep an eye on what puts money in your pockets. Make sure someone is managing your bread and butter; don’t take it for granted that today’s business will still be there tomorrow. It’s too easy for management to get distracted with the latest emergency and neglect what got you to where you are today.

How do you think your business will change in the next five years?

With growth, changing technology, new investments, industry consolidation, new entrants, new laws, regulations and changing attitudes, we are constantly looking just over the horizon for the next round of change and adjusting today. The biggest change for us will be a focus on untapped markets both domestically and abroad and the opportunities exposures in those markets will bring.

What is a decision you wish you hadn’t made? What did you learn from it?

I had the opportunity while working in San Francisco to work at a start-up that was a complete mess. Like so many other start-ups that launched and failed it seemed like good idea to pass solely based on their level of disorganization. As it turned I should have dug deeper at the substance of the company and looked beyond the first impressions and initial assumptions. The company today is a multi-billion dollar leader in their industry. Regardless, I’m still quite pleased with how my career progressed.

What is your most memorable business experience?

By far it would be over the past couple years with the recently completed transaction. The people I encountered and interacted with were of tremendous aid during the process, remain close contacts and shall be in the future. Quite of bit of personal and professional growth through dealing with unending issues, managing business needs versus personal life and occasionally pulling a rabbit out of my hat. Taking a conference call pool side in Las Vegas while on PTO during the process, not recommended. Very distracting.

What is your greatest business success?

Identifying employees who have potential beyond what they are doing.

What was your toughest business decision?

When one company I was with was purchased and shifted to the east coast, I had to lay off an accounting staff that was a pleasure to manage and then pick one to remain to help wrap things up afterwards.

What would your friends be surprised to find out about you?

I’m a closet rock star. I have a pair of lefty Schecter guitars, speakers, amplifier and Ubisoft’s Rocksmith on my old PS3. After a long week, I might be found turning the system to “11” and blowing out the windows to Alice in Chains or Stone Temple Pilots.

Jeff Peterson


Hydrofarm, LLC

2249 S. McDowell Blvd., Petaluma 94954


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