Not a tomato guy



Bob Schluter, the force behind Warwick Tomatoes and Warwick Valley Products, doesn’t start his day with a green juice. He may drive a Tesla, but he doesn’t tend a garden, or do a lot of cooking, or even eat his veggies. “I’m not a tomato guy,” he says. His booming business kind of happened on accident: “We were making lighting for the cannabis industry, and we needed a legal plant to grow to test the lights, and we chose tomatoes… and we just happened to get good at growing them.” Schluter is a scientist, engineer, entrepreneur, and inventor. And while he seems to have mastered the art of growing pesticide-free vegetables year round, he’s still constantly tinkering with his methods. And he never gives himself a day off. “How do I Saturday? My Saturday is like a Tuesday, like a Thursday.”

4 A.M. I wake up without an alarm. Automatically. When I first get up, I’m the sharpest that I could possibly be in the morning. So I do my strategic thinking, my detailed plans, the e-mails that I can’t do when I’m inebriated—you know, those kinds of things. So a lot of people get 4:30 a.m. emails from me. It’s the heavy-trippy, really wide awake strategizing.

MORNING MUNCHIES I usually have a few breakfasts. I’ll grab a big bowl of oatmeal first thing—that’s what I like. It’s real easy for me to do the oatmeal myself in the house with a little boiling water.

THAT’S SO METAL I’m a Sirius XM junkie, but I have OCD so I jump between channels. Usually, it’ll be very heavy metal in the morning: liquid metal.

PEEKING AROUND I hit the greenhouse by 5:30. The lights come on at six o’clock here, so I peek around with a flashlight in the dark. It’s my favorite thing: looking at the health of the plants, how they’re dealing with the cooler temperatures. When you’re growing in the wintertime in the greenhouse, things are quite different: you have to look at the humidity and check that the environmental controls are working right.

BREAKFAST COMBO My second breakfast will usually be an egg sandwich. The first deli is open at six. So I get my first sandwich at six from Larry’s Deli; I walk in and they make me what I want. Then, later I’ll do a big carbo-thing, like a stack of pancakes. I eat a lot in the morning.

SURFIN’ Then I’ll head over to the Warwick Valley products factory and check on the guys over there. After breakfast I wanna change my tune, so I’ll go to smooth jazz on the radio. Then, I’ll wind up surfing to rock ‘n’ roll for the rest of the day. Just like plants wake up with the sun, I like to wake up with music. I’m a real nut as far as quality music distributed throughout any of our buildings, whether it’s a greenhouse, a processing room, or a factory.

THROWIN’ IT BACK Then I generally wind up on a construction site. We’re currently in the middle of two historic renovations in the village. We’re working on the 10 Railroad building and the 25 Railroad building: the old railroad depot. We’re renovating the upstairs on that, putting it back to how it was in the day, including the telegraph holes that were in the wood paneling on the side. The building is so old that there were gas lamps in it and pipes coming through the ceiling for gas lights, before electricity. Before we renovate, we always take pictures of the materials and re-build it like that. I always take it back to the period correct, and use as many original materials as possible.

MARKET-ING I come back to the greenhouse again to check on any construction activities in the market. I’m spending more time making sure the market is ready—construction, decorations and the murals. We want to make it an educational market: show the way things are grown, what plants do as far as uptake and nutrients. We’re also building a tomato bar out of materials reclaimed from Warwick Feed & Grain. When you have so many choices, you don’t know what you want to buy. You really want to slice it open and see. So that’s what the tomato bar’s all about, tasting everything—tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers—before you buy it.

CHEERS When I get home around 6 o’clock, I have a couple of drinks [laughs]. Vodka, with a combination of mango and pineapple juice. Catch up on current events. I go to sleep at ten o’clock and I’m fine. I only need about five hours of sleep—if I get any more than that, I’m tired.

Molly Colgan