Growing up in a floral industry that was traditionally segmented, with growers, wholesalers and retailers each performing a different function (often not knowing much about what the others did), Jack Van Namen nonetheless saw the potential for doing business a different way.
Over the course of several decades, he worked alongside his father and company founder, Jacob Van Namen, to lead Vans Inc. into a new era of wholesale floral distribution, achieving remarkable growth at a time when many others were experiencing setbacks in a fast-changing industry.
Key to his success was a vision of the big picture: vertically-integrating Vans with its own supply chain for both fresh flowers and floral supplies, sometimes cooperating with competitors in order to do so. Many factors contributed to that strategy, among them Jack’s participation in and contribution to floral industry organizations like the American Floral Endowment.
Following his father’s example of giving back to the industry, Jack has served as president of WF&FSA as well as on various committees of both WF&FSA and the Society of American Florists. He has also participated on the boards of state and local floral associations and within his church and community.
“When you are involved with national associations, you really have your fingers on the pulse of the industry,” says Jack, who served on AFE’s board for many years, continuing a tradition his father had established. Both Jack and Carolynn and Jack’s parents, Jacob and Rita Van Namen, are members of the AFE Heritage Circle. Jacob Van Namen passed away at age 90 in 2013.