Why CEO Bob Pringle swapped his bank job for flower power

The late summer sun is glinting off the Fraser River and the industrial buildings of south Burnaby. It’s a warm morning, with just the faintest hint of autumn as buyers bid on the fragrant lots coming forward at the largest Dutch-style flower auction on the continent.

Wholesalers and retailers place bids on more than 20,000 buckets of flowers that are either grown in the Fraser Valley by members of United Flower Growers Co-operative Association, which runs the auction, or imported from South America. Wholesalers and retailers name their price as the values wind down on lots in rapid succession. Bidding starts high for the flowers, a perishable commodity that operates in a buyer’s market; premium blooms fetch a high price, but buyers can also wait till prices drop to meet their budgets.

But the auction business isn’t what it used to be.

Rather than buy off the spot market for whatever product is available, retailers increasingly contract in advance. Predictable supplies at defined prices suit the low-margin business of retailing, with its high capital costs and fickle consumers.

Securing that same certainty for local flower growers was the challenge Bob Pringle faced when he joined United Flower Growers as CEO in 2004, after 23 years in commercial banking with CIBC.

Read the complete article at www.biv.com.

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