SAF Orlando, September 21-23, 2021

US (FL): “It is very encouraging to see that, despite the circumstances, so many people showed up”

This week, on September 21-23, SAF Orlando was in full swing. This year’s theme was “Reconnect, Recharge, and Get Inspired”. The event provided the opportunity to reconnect with the floral community, recharge during education sessions and workshops, and get inspired by the newest products and floral trends. On September 22, Sahid Nahim from New Bloom Solutions and Williee Armellini from Flowers and Cents joined the event and discussed some topical issues with several floral associations. Learn more about the challenges surrounding the organization of the event, as well as different associations’ efforts to support the industry.

Supporting the industry through scholarships and research
Labor is currently a major issue in the floral industry, which is why American Floral Endowment’s board members Patrick Dahlson and Dwight Larimer joined the conversation. AFE is a nonprofit organization that funds floriculture research and scholarships. “One of the successes that we had was forcing collaboration between the different industry associations so that we are able to jointly solve problems. This is beneficial in terms of brainpower as well as funding,” says Larimer. Dahlson adds: “We also established the Floral Marketing Fund in 2008 to conduct consumer market research to promote floral consumption. We really want this to be a neutral playing field to be involved with. We are not trying to promote South American flowers, domestic flowers, or flowers from the moon; we are just promoting flowers.”

Behind the organization of SAF Orlando 2021
“Throughout August, it was a little worrisome, we were worried that our attendees weren’t able to show up, but luckily they did,” says Kate Penn, CEO of Society of American Florists. “We only had a 15% drop off, which was much less than we had expected, considering the fact that the recent advice has been not to travel to Florida. We had about 430 registrants, and about 350-360 have joined the event. Interestingly, over a hundred of those were first-timers, so we are very excited to show them our event. It is very encouraging to see that, despite the circumstances, so many people made an effort to join the event.”

The importance of state associations
Lastly, three state floral associations (Great Lakes Floral Association, Florida State Floral Association, Texas State Floral Association) discuss the importance of their work for the industry. So what is in it for people when they enter a state association? According to these representatives, that is the wrong question to ask. “It should be ‘What can I do to get involved?’, as it is an opportunity to educate yourself and improve your business. It is what you put into the membership what you expect to get out of it.” And it is not just local residents that can join, as Florida State Floral Association has started to include international members. “This has allowed us to grow larger. Four years ago, we had 74 members. Today we have almost 400.”

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