Kenneth Royer, AAF, receives industry's highest honor

Kenneth Royer, AAF, was the 2021 inductee into the Society of American Florists' Floriculture Hall of Fame, the floral industry's highest honor. The induction ceremony took place on September 23 during the Stars of the Industry Awards dinner at SAF Orlando 2021, the organization's 136th Annual Convention held at the Loews Royal Pacific Resort in Orlando, Florida. 

As a child, Royer made deliveries after school for his parents' eponymous flower shop in Lebanon, Pennsylvania, which was established in 1937. Four decades later, he took full control of the business, marrying his parents' "can do" attitude with a pragmatic approach to track everything, from design to delivery, to determine what's successful and what needs to be tweaked or dropped. Under his leadership, Royer's Flowers became one of the country's largest and most respected floral retailers, with 16 locations in Pennsylvania and three in Ohio, currently run by two of his sons and three grandsons. 

Kenneth Royer's son, Greg Royer (second from left), accepts the award on behalf of his father at SAF Orlando 2021. 

"Despite their hard work and entrepreneurial spirit, Hannah and Lester Royer probably could never have imagined what Ken built during his time leading the company," says Paul Fowle, former vice president of DVFlora and a past SAF treasurer. "I have been to nearly 200 retail florists across the United States. There is simply no other like Royer's."

Royer was the first florist in the United States to implement computerized systems for multi-shop operations. His management philosophy, ethic, and commitment to providing his customers a good value became part of not only the Royer's team but thousands of retailers nationwide. 

But Royer's legacy extends far beyond his own family business– he is a trailblazer in the multi-shop industry. "What Royer's does is so specialized, and Ken could have kept it to himself competitively, but he shared his secret sauce," Fowle says. Most notably, he penned "Retailing Flowers Profitably," which sold approximately 5,000 copies. He also led more than 70 seminars on various topics, from marketing to management to post-harvest care, and wrote a Florists' Review magazine column, "Royer on Retail," for 14 years. 

Royer was active in several organizations. He served on SAF's Retail Council, as well as its Board of Directors. A committee chair for the American Floral Marketing Council, he encouraged the group to advertise non-holiday events to build these sales; he was instrumental in developing the "Flowers are Worth a Thousand Words" campaign, which focused on using flowers to celebrate everyday occasions. He also spent ten years as a trustee (six as treasurer) of the American Floral Endowment and established the Hannah and Lester Memorial Fund in honor of his parents. 

Royer's achievements have earned many accolades, including SAF's Golden Bouquet (now known as the Paul Ecke Jr. Award), Pennsylvania Florist of the Year, AFE's Living Tribute Award, and Inc. Magazine's Entrepreneur Award. 

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