September, 2010 - Orlando, FL - 126th Annual SAF Convention
by Rick Canale of Exotic Flowers in Boston
I just got back from the SAF Orlando floral convention in Florida. The convention celebrated its 126th anniversary this year. 289 people from 35 states and four countries attended the event. Fifteen percent of the registrants attended for the first time.
The numbers from the show exhibit a small sliver of the floral industry.
The highlight of my trip however was three-fold.
One - the people. Floral industry members are some of the hardest working and kindest people there are. I was able to have coffee with industry leader Mark Nance AAF of Bloomnet. I chatted with Floral Management 'capo' Amanda Long. And it was great getting pats on the back by industry icons Stan Pohmer and Teleflora Chairman Tom Butler AAF, PFCI.
Two - I served as a judge for the 2010 Floral Management Marketer of the Year Contest and also served as a judge for the Outstanding Varieties Competition.
Left: This year's winner is magical.
Three - Educational Sessions
I was honored and thrilled to participate in an engaging panel with two marketing muses. Our job was to present "Finding the Right Social Networking Strategy for Your Business,". Along with Georgianne Vinicombe of Monday Morning Flower and Balloon Company and Mandy Majerick, AIFD, PFCI of HotHouseDesign Studio. What an engaging response from the attendees ! It was great. Renato Sogueco, CIO at SAF put together a great panel and executed the session flawlessly.
It was a joy to see industry heavies, Brian Wheat of Lafayette Florist, Paul Bachman of Bachman's of Minnesota, Paul Brockaway of Conklyn's of Virginia, Don Coleman of Mayfield Florist and Kathy Dudley of The Bloomery in Butler PA all in the audience.
Just seeing a full audience engaged in our session was worth the time trip alone.
My only disappointment at the convention - why was I the only florist, grower or wholesaler there from Massachusetts? Massachusetts is one of the largest consumption states of fresh flowers in the United States. We even boast the most recent Florist of the Year. Yet me, Rick Canale of Exotic Flowers in Boston was the only Massachusetts representation. Too bad for Massachusetts and too bad for Boston florists.