Herman Meinders, AAF, founder of American Floral Services, one of the largest international wire services, has donated $250,000 to The Society of American Florists. At Meinders’ request, the funds will be used to encourage careers in the floral and horticultural industries, educate florists, and help the industry promote the awareness and sale of cut flowers, plants, and floral-related products.
Nearly 51 years ago Meinders was three weeks into selling subscriptions for his new wire service, American Floral Services, and was ready to give up. “I thought ‘You know, I think I made a mistake. I don’t think I should do this,’" Meinders says. Then he decided to check his mail. In the mailbox was a letter from the Society of American Florists’ Executive Vice President, John H. Walker, congratulating Meinders on his new business and sending his encouragement.
“I read that letter and I had tears in my eyes,” Meinders says, “and I thought, ‘Maybe I will give it a shot.'”
Meinders started American Floral Services from a garage apartment in 1970 with 137 florist subscribers in his first directory. Within 15 years, the service had grown to more than 17,000 subscribers. He sold the business in 1994, and in 2000 it merged with Teleflora, where Meinders, 85, is chairman emeritus. He is the 2000 recipient of the Paul Ecke Jr. Award, and in 2012 was inducted into SAF’s Floriculture Hall of Fame.
"The floral industry was very good to me,” Meinders says. “It’s important to take care of those that take care of you. That’s why I give to the floral industry.” Meinders credits SAF for supporting not just him and his business, but also the industry, which prompted him to make this donation.
Marketing and recruitment have always been important to Meinders and he sees that these are two big challenges for florists right now, which is why a portion of the donation will be used for those efforts.
SAF’s board of directors will oversee the funds, and is "humbled by Herman’s generous gift, which speaks to his life-long support of the industry,” says SAF President Michelle Castellano Keeler, AAF. “This donation will go a long way to help SAF attract talent to our industry, educate florists, and keep our industry and flowers in the forefront of consumers’ minds.”
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