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A look behind the scenes of the floral supply chain

Whether they work in retail, manufacturing, wholesale, or on a flower farm, busy floral professionals in all segments of the industry are knowledgeable about their link to the supply chain. But how often are they able to put all the pieces together and see the bigger picture?

The Society of American Florists’ Next Gen LIVE! event in Miami, June 11-13, gives attendees the opportunity to step out of their day-to-day tasks and gain a new perspective on how the floral supply chain works. During a tour of the importing facilities at the Miami International Airport—where 327,000 tons of flowers valued at nearly $1.6 billion are imported annually, according to the airport — attendees will visit cargo facilities where flowers are inspected for pests, as well as a transportation company and warehouses. Or, attendees can choose to tour three progressive retailers in the Miami area.

Nicole Palazzo, AAF, of City Line Florist in Trumbull, Connecticut, and Maiya Shoemaker and Alejandra Ruiz, both of Fifty Flowers in Boise, Idaho, get a close-up look at bouquet production during a tour of USA Bouquet at last year’s Next Gen LIVE! in Miami.

Importing Insights
Christine Boldt, executive director of the Association of Floral Importers of Florida, who helped organize and conduct the tour last year, says the experience was impactful because Next Gen LIVE! attendees from various sectors of the industry saw firsthand how the supply chain works — and the integral role Miami International Airport plays in it.

“The history, the changes that have been made, and how things are done today are important for everyone to know,” Boldt says. “[It is important to know] how far we’ve come and why the Miami International Airport is important for the importation of flowers into the United States.”

For Erin Davidson of McNamara Florist in Indianapolis, the experience was not only a highlight of the event, it was a high point of her career.

“To see firsthand how the industry handles product provided so much clarity and boosted the knowledge I could take back to my team,” Davidson says. “I continue to share this information with any new hires we make because I think it’s important for everyone to know every step flowers take from farm to vase.”

Retailing Perspective
The importing tour is designed to give attendees a look at the processes involved in getting flowers to a shop, and the retail shop tours provide insight and inspiration into how to operate a profitable flower shop.

One of the three locations attendees will visit is a full-service floral design and event production company, Petal Productions, which does about 500 personalized weddings a year in the luxury market. The company’s head designer and director, Carlos Muina, will provide insight into what it takes to produce high-end events from start to finish.

“I’ll talk about all the different departments and what each one is responsible for and how they all come together to create beautiful, over-the-top events,” Muina says. “I hope people walk away with a better understanding of scale and how scale doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice quality and originality. I hope they can see how big and diverse the industry is and how there’s room to grow and dream big.”

That growth is at the core of Next Gen LIVE! The event offers programming to empower up-and-coming floral professionals 45 and under designed by their peers. This year’s programming includes sessions on customer service, digital marketing strategies, leadership, and more, as well as networking opportunities.

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