Trend Tidbits

During the Wholesale florist convention in October in Miami we had a chance to sit in on a trends session hosted by Kris Kratt AIFD PFCI. 

A little bit about Kris (and her husband Bill):



Kris is an owner of Schaffer Designs with her husband Bill.  They have won multiple awards from the Philadelphia Floral Show in ’07 ’11 ’12 and ’13.  They also headed up International Floral Distributor’s Color Forecast for three years.  Hillcrest Garden is a member of IFD.  They have also authored a book, “Taking the Flower Show Home.”  They are creators of “The Stars Project,” where they will coordinate floral designers from all 50 states for a celebration of the Constitution’s 225th anniversary.  Kris and Bill reside in Philadelphia PA.



Here are some bullet points that she espoused during her talk that we all thoughts our readers might find interesting:



Kris feels that there is no shame in mixing permanent botanicals with fresh product.  She suggests you be honest open and up front with a bride when this happens.  You simply tell the bride, that silk flowers are excellent and this is sometimes the only way to be able to include a certain flower that a bride has to have in a wedding design.  (As an aside - Hillcrest recently purchased white anemones with black centers in permanent, and this is a perfect example of what Kris is talking about.  White anemones are popular but in short supply.  Burgundy dahlias is another example.  Our supply buyer, Arnold, will be on the hunt for this item from his suppliers).






Leather Leaf, football mums and gladiolus are all flowers that are ‘new” to millennials, so you as florists should not automatically reject buying these items, just because you thought they were outdated and out of style.  Millennials think they are hot, and so should you! Millennials also crave protea.







Flat Lay photos are trending.  If you want to have your shop window look hip and ‘with it” we suggest you incorporate some flat lay photos in your displays and also on your website.






Unicorns are also trending.

Tim Huckabee Strikes Again!

Tim blog

Well, we are pleased to report that we had Tim Huckabee stop by our facility for two days of intense training.  He trained our sales staff and he also trained 28 retail florists that gathered here Tuesday evening for a 90 minute seminar on upselling.

Here are the main bullet points he covered in the session with the retail florists:

The floral industry is the only industry where we all (wholesalers and retailers) apologize to customers for their prices.  Tim asked, “When was the last time the barista at Starbucks apologized for selling you an overpriced $5 cup of coffee?”  Or the clerk at the grocery store for the milk, or the convenience store clerk who sells you a $2.00 snickers bar, or the beer man at the football game who serves you a $12.00 beer?

Tim advised the retailers in attendance that night to get the card message up front, and then gauge the emotional capital the buyer has invested in the flowers needed and quote a price accordingly.  For example if a brother is sending flowers for his sister’s 50th birthday, start at $75 or $100, not $45.00  If it’s a bouquet for the teacher on the last day of school, that can be the less expensive sale.  Tim visits a lot of flower shops and he sees florists charging 1997 prices even though we are in 2017.  The rest of the world have moved on, the floral business is still mired in 1997 and wondering why carnations aren’t the same price they were in the 1980s.

Tim talked about how retail florist ecommerce sites outsell human phone salespeople by a large margin on add-ons, like mylar balloons, teddy bears and chocolate.  So that means its obvious people will buy those things, so when your phone salespeople skip this add-on, its leaving money on the table.

Tim talked about words you should not use when describing an arrangement.  Such as the word “nice.”  That word is so middling and so non-descriptive.  Tim suggests “beautiful” or “lovely.”

Tim talked with retailers about how to address concerns about delivery charges.  He has all the perfect lines about how to counter complaints from customers on this topic.  His vocabulary training for florists is very powerful.

He actually covered a lot more on Tues than just what we have shared above.  The next time you have an opportunity to see Tim speak at an SAF Profit Blast or a trade association convention, don’t miss his talk.

We are lucky to have Tim in the NY metropolitan area.  He is available for hire as a consultant to help train your staff in the store, and there aren’t airfare and hotel room costs to deal with.  We subsidized the cost of having Tim teach florists here at our Tuesday evening seminar.  The fee to get in was just $5.00  We also helped subsidize the costs of some Tim sales consulting that was awarded to one lucky winner on Tuesday who gets to have Tim in their shop at a deep discount.

This is actually the third time we have had Tim Huckabee talk to florists at our Paramus facility.  We are committed to helping florists.  We have put on 4-5 of these business type seminars over the last 5-6 years and we have also hosted 2-3 designs shows each year as well.  We know our competitors are not providing this level of training for you on both the business and the design side.    

Tim is the only one in the floral business doing this type of upselling training.  The stuff he is preaching is not rocket science.  It’s just basic precepts that we all could probably figure out on our own but we don’t.  And that includes mistakes our people make on the wholesale level as well.  Tim spent two days training our wholesale staff this week.  If you are interested in more of what Tim has to say, we have a catalog of some of his articles on our website.  Click here.  If you want to find out more about Tim and his sales training visit his website

We are uploading a short video of some of Tim’s Tues. evening seminar with the retail florists on our you-tube channel and also on our website soon.  Keep an eye out for it.

Fall & Christmas Design Show 10/11/17 Recap

About six months ago our Supply Manager, Arnold Price, received a recommendation from an industry peer, Willie from Kennicott Brothers in Chicago.  Willie spoke very highly of a Missouri based floral designer named Ron Johnson.  Hillcrest Garden is always on the lookout for a new designer to give our customer base a fresh outlook on floral design.  So naturally, we called Ron right away and hired him to be our featured designer for our October 2017 Fall and Christmas design show.  Ron was an unknown quantity to our east-coast centric floral customer base, and that was both exciting and nerve-wracking.  Exciting, for we would have a fun new floral expert to foist upon our customers, and nerve-wracking for there’s always that fear in the back of your mind, “maybe they won’t come, for they don’t know him.”  Well we had a wonderful turn-out with 105 attendees, so our fears were unfounded.

Ron has an even keeled, calm demeanor.  He makes you at ease when he speaks.  He owns three different floral / home décor themed shops.  So he sits in the same shoes as the floral shops that attended our show last night.  He spoke for an hour and forty-five minutes, and showed the crowd 50 floral designs.  Here are some of the highlights from our perspective:


fallshow1  fallshow2  fallshow3

  1. Ron is a believer in proving to his customers that his shop is known for unique and creative designs. He told our audience that he has developed a reputation within his community for fun creative designs, and that customers will come back repeatedly to take advantage of this originality.  Above are some examples of this that he created for our Wednesday show.fallshow4
  2. He also showed the crowd a fantastic simple arrangement that he does hundreds of per year. He takes a square piece of foam, the attaches 5-6 pieces of salal to the edge sticking out horizontally like wings all around the top edge.  Then using a rubber band he collapses the salal leafs down so that they lie flat against the edge of the foam, to hide view of foam.  Then he flips the design over, inserts short stem flowers and glittered balls vertically into the foam and voila, you have an inexpensive beautiful small arrangement that takes almost no time to do.  A six inch white lomey dish can be placed underneath to catch residual water.


  1. The most fantastic idea I felt Ron taught the crowd that evening was creating unique wine toppers. Now if one of your customers is invited to a holiday party, instead of showing up with a bottle of wine in a generic bag, they can instead wow their host with a bottle of win with a unique holiday design on top.  Ron calls then “wine toppers.”  This is a wonderful idea!  Do you think customers you may have lost to the local grocery store floral department will find something like that at the ACME?  No, for that type of creativity, they will need to go to a florist, and that is another feather a florist can have in their cap.  Another reason why this idea is so good for florists, is now you have a way to marry your shop to the liquor business.  There are a lot of wine bottles sold each year.  Just think about what percentage of wine bottles are purchases as hostess gifts by people attending a party?  It has to be a healthy percentage, maybe 5% if we had to guess.  The ideas just flow when you think about this idea.  Can you contact your local town liquor store, and develop some sort of a partnership or arrangement?  Can you teach a class in the evening at your shop, where you teach of group of your customers how to make these wine toppers?  I would imagine they would also like to drink some wine that evening while you teach the calss, as long as its BYOW, that should be OK with you insurance wise.  Wine toppers in general can be an idea you promote on your website.  A host/hostess that gets a wine topper as a gift can regift it if he/she attends a future party.  If you want to make the wine topper extra perishable, you can build it so that there is a cut flower element to it, so the customer will need to frequently come back to your shop for a refill if they want to re-gift the wine topper to another host/hostess.


  1. We had requested that Ron showcase more of our Christmas artificial items this show. So he made many creative pieces that can be sold at a flower shop, and also have a long shelf life.  After the show, we have many attendees anxious to purchase these 100% artificial arrangements. 


  1. We are pleased to announce the winner of our grand prize for the eveing. Heights Flowers Shop in Hasbrouck Heights NJ was the winner of the $400 in gift cards (Lowes, CVS etc) Grand Prize.  Congratulations to them!

Post Irma Recap, Oct 2017

The weather in the southern part of the United States has wreaked havoc with the floral industry.  Miami is the main portal of flowers into this country.  When Miami gets shut down, as it was during the recent hurricane that swept thru Florida, the flow of flowers from Colombia and Ecuador to the United States stops.

These are the after-effects we have seen from the viewpoint of a wholesaler:

South America: There was three or four days there, where nobody in South America could get floral product to the US.  Yes there were flights into NYC and Houston, and probably some other cities like Atlanta and St Louis, but that was a trickle compared to what usually comes in thru Miami.  In Las Vegas, the wholesalers there chartered an entire plane to bring in their flowers.  I guess gambling isn’t the only thing they’re good at!  So many of these flowers in S.A that could not get air-space on limited flights were dumped.  Growers took a large hit on their profit/loss statement.  That means over the next year, they are going to do their best to make up those losses, through higher prices.  Another little known fact is that after Irma swept thru, all the hotel rooms in Miami were filled.  Airlines that need a place for a pilot to sleep after he/she has flown the maximum amount of hours he or she was allowed, could not find rooms for these pilots.  So consequently, they cancelled flights.  So even though the hurricane was over, the lack of hotel rooms constricted airspace on all the available flights which consequently affected our floral industry.  Also, there are lots of fruits and other products that were vying for the available cargo airspace with flowers.  Sometimes fruit would win and sometimes they wouldn’t.  Regardless, this was still less airspace for flowers.  Wholesalers like us were put in a quandary.  We could buy heavier from California, but then if the Miami portal opened up sooner than we thought, our coolers would be overloaded with flowers.  Our buyers had to make a lot of key decisions in the run-up to hurricane Irma, and we had no way of knowing that something as innocuous as booked up hotel rooms in Miami would have a trickledown effect on our airspace.

Florida:  All the leather-leaf growers in FLA took a major hit from 2016’s Hurricane Matthew.  Their netting and sprinkler systems over hundreds of acres were ruined.  They had large losses, and the state government of FLA took emergency actions and allowed the leather leaf growers to band together and raise prices.  They were given an anti-trust exemption.  Our company was forced to raise prices as a result of higher increases in 2016.  Now fast forward to 2017, and Hurricane Irma.  Those same leather leaf growers, who had all poured tons of money into fixing their netting/sprinklers, had them all destroyed again 12 months later by Irma.  So once again leather leaf prices are rising.  Some leather leaf producers may actually go out of business.  Our company after being hit in the head twice is looking into alternate sources of leather leaf, since FLA is so fragile right now.  Stay tuned for more information on that.

Air Freight Rates:  The airlines took advantage of the hurricane and raised rates on airspace, and those rates have not come down even though we are almost a good three weeks past Irma.  Our cut flower buyers tell us that these high rates will most likely remain in place thru January.  Then they may drop only to rise again with V-Day surcharges that airlines tack on.  Our company had some pretty dramatic clashes with the airlines, as we attempted to fly boxes into Kennedy airport in the days after Irma.  Those air freight terminals were manned by nasty employees, and they also wanted certified checks, credit cards were not accepted.  Get this, at 12:00 Noon, they all break for a 1 hour lunch.  There is no staggering of the lunches, so the entire airfreight cargo pick-up terminal would shut down for an entire hour.  Can you imagine going to the grocery store, and being told your cc # is no good, you must run to the bank and get a certified check?  Can you imagine being in line with your groceries and being told, that all the check-out employees are going on a 1 hour break, and you have to stand there and wait an hour?  Well this is what happened to Hillcrest Garden.  We sent drivers over two separate days to four terminals and we experienced all this bad customer service from all four of the airlines that flew our flowers north.  We were on the phone, yelling cajoling, begging for hours to no avail.

Tractor Trailer Transportation: After seeing images of Houston based tractor trailers stuck in 10 foot high water during Harvey on CNN, I am sure that every tractor trailer company in Florida wanted nothing to do with Irma.  We actually use two trucking firms to ship our flowers north from Miami to Paramus.  One trucker stopped shipping 4 days before Irma and had all their trucks flee the state.  With tractor trailers costing so much money, who could blame them?  Hillcrest Garden’s other trucking firm stayed the course and kept shipping product, taking a big risk.  We were impressed!  For there were several days there, we would have had no shipments if this trucking firm had not kept hauling.  We are eternally grateful for that.

Proflora 2017: Our cut flower buyers are currently in Colombia attending this flower trade show.  All the attendees are thinking the same thing as we are, how can we make air freight into Miami less of a crutch, after what we went through with Irma?  There are ocean freight containers (flowers kept at 32 degrees) that will ship flowers from northern ports in Colombia into Miami.  This is one way around the airlines.  It will force buyers into more lead time, since the ocean freight takes a few days longer that the planes.  We will keep you posted on this new travel process.

Wholesalers to Retailers: Plan Ahead and Order Early

Posted By: Mary Westbrookon

Hurricanes and Airfreight


“Inbound freight from South America remains challenging, but the situation has improved somewhat,” said Steve Catando, purchasing manager for DV Flora. “Many importers are shipping earlier to allow for more time to offset any potential delays. Costs remain a real issue and all of the capacity that is being flown over normal space allotments are being flown at significantly higher costs.”

A late summer and early fall that read like something out of a science fiction movie — hurricanes, volcanoes, grounded planes, backlogged ports — has created new challenges for the floral industry supply chain and exposed some long-standing weaknesses.

What does that mean in practical terms for retailers planning for Thanksgiving, fall weddings, Christmas, Hanukkah — and even Valentine’s Day?

“The best advice I can provide is straight from my youth and being an Eagle Scout,” said Steve Catando, purchasing manager for DV Flora. “Be prepared.”

Catando noted that many industry members are still dealing with the effects of Hurricane Irma, which hit Florida last month and forced the temporary closure of major sea and airports.

“Inbound freight from South America remains challenging, but the situation has improved somewhat,” he said. “Many importers are shipping earlier to allow for more time to offset any potential delays. Costs remain a real issue and all of the capacity that is being flown over normal space allotments are being flown at significantly higher costs.”

Catando also noted “major limitations in greens, leatherleaf, and some key Florida plant crops.” In fact, Florida Commissioner of Agriculture Adam Putnam announced last week that the preliminary agricultural damages caused by Hurricane Irma in Florida will total more than $2.5 billion. (Look for more coverage of Florida growers in future issues of EBrief and in Floral Management magazine.)

Pam Uranga, supply chain manager for Mayesh Wholesale Florist, said her company is “80 to 90 percent” back to normal after Hurricane Irma. Still, she noted, that major storm wasn’t the only challenge growers, importers and wholesalers faced in recent weeks: A volcanic eruption also delayed flights in Quito, Ecuador, before and after Irma.

In addition, as several wholesalers noted, some air carriers continue to struggle financially due to an imbalance between north- and southbound freight volume, a situation that can lead to backlogs and delays as carriers wait for cargo before returning to Miami — and one that the recent round of weather-related challenges exacerbated. (Flights leave South America with product but return empty or only partially filled, in part because of slowdown in local economies and demand.) Another challenge that pre-dates the hurricane: The floral industry often competes with more profitable cargo for space on flights — some produce crops from Peru and Chile pay three-times more per kilogram than flowers, according to Catando. In addition, high-priority rescue and relief efforts in Puerto Rico, after Hurricane Maria, also pulled away charter planes that some companies tried calling in. (At press time, another natural disaster, wild fires in northern California, did not appear to be threatening major flower-growing regions in that state.)

Kennicott Brothers Company/Nordlie advised customers last week that they are seeing a two- to three-day delay in product coming from South America to Miami: “The summer was difficult and then Hurricane Irma caused a five-day stoppage in flights. The airlines have seen a backlog from all three major ports.” (Bogotá and Medellin, in Colombia, and Quito, in Ecuador.)

“The logistics situation is real and will continue to be a challenge moving forward,” said Joe Barnes marketing manager for Kennicott Brothers.  “We don’t believe this will [improve] before Christmas. History shows airlines have more freight opportunities [in terms of non-floral cargo] from other ports in November and December.”

Catando predicts demand for Thanksgiving will be strong while air cargo “capacity will remain the same.”

“Many companies are exploring with sea container freight to help relieve some of the air space,” he said. “We expect air freight challenges to continue for December and through Valentine’s Day 2018.”

His advice for retailers: “Order early for sure and plan in advance,” he said. “I recommend they add a day or two to their real desired delivery day. [If I were them], I would rather have my product cold and in a cooler a day earlier than wondering if I’m going to get it.”

Kennicott Brothers suggested a similar approach to its customers. “Please continue to get your orders in as early as you can. The capacity is tight and it’s taking more time to get everything to our locations.”

That’s also a message Uranga is hoping to spread.

“From a wholesale-level, it’s getting more difficult to handle late orders,” she said. “It’s been a challenging few weeks, but we know the issues that we’re facing. When retailers plan ahead and order early, we’re golden. We can find ways to make it work.”

Hurricane Forces Cancelation of SAF Palm Beach 2017

Posted By: Mary Westbrookon: September 06, 2017In: Floral Industry News


Conv17 Hotel TakesFlowers

To the delight of anxious hotel guests and staff, the design team behind SAF Palm Beach 2017 handed out gorgeous cut flowers and stunning designs once the convention was called off. “Unplanned Petal It Forward, put smiles on many faces today … flowers do that,” posted Lorraine Cooper, AAF, AIFD, PFCI, to SAF’s convention app, with a photo of hotel staff taking the convention fresh product

The Society of American Florists has canceled SAF Palm Beach 2017, the association’s 133rd annual convention, which was set to begin today at 6 pm.

SAF made the decision Sept. 5 shortly before 1 pm EST after reviewing forecasts and conferring with The Breakers hotel staff about the likely path of Hurricane Irma, a Category 5 storm expected to hit South Florida in the coming days.

“Based on the way the storm is tracking over the weekend, we’ve decided that it’s in everyone’s best interest that we cancel the convention,” explained SAF CEO Peter Moran in an email to all attendees. “Unfortunately, because the locale for an event of this size has to be booked far in advance, it’s not something that can be rescheduled.”

More than 460 industry members were expected to attend the convention. An estimated 70 had already arrived at The Breakers, taking advantage of some relaxation time prior to the event. SAF is refunding registration fees, and The Breakers will return security deposits.

SAF volunteer leaders and designers had been working at The Breakers for several days prior to the decision, decking the historic hotel with the stunning floral designs that are a hallmark of SAF conventions and tending to important association business, including leadership changes.

The SAF Palm Beach volunteer design team already had worked much of their magic with floral displays throughout the hotel. Fortunately, their hard work didn’t go to waste — it was the subject of admiration for hotel guests, and became a real source of delight during an anxious time, as the design team handed out arrangements and cut flowers to The Breakers visitors and staff once the convention had been called off.


Members of the design team hard at work, prior to cancelation.

“Unplanned Petal It Forward, put smiles on many faces today … flowers do that,” posted Lorraine Cooper, AAF, AIFD, PFCI, to SAF’s convention app, with a photo of hotel staff taking the convention fresh products.

And, while it was no substitute for the extensive networking and reconnecting time usually afforded by an SAF convention, design team members, SAF volunteer leaders and convention attendees who already had arrived for the event dined together Tuesday night.

Despite the cancellation, Bill LaFever of the Bill Doran Company in Rockford, Illinois, officially assumed the SAF presidency, taking over from his predecessor, Martin Meskers, of Oregon Flowers in Aurora, Oregon. Meskers moved into the role of SAF chairman, a position Shirley Lyons, AAF, of Dandelion’s Flowers & Gifts in Eugene, Oregon, held for three years. Chris Drummond, AAF, of Plaza Flowers in Philadelphia, will serve as the group’s president-elect, and Paul Fowle, of DV Flora in Miami and a former SAF board member, will take over Drummond’s role as SAF treasurer.


Members of the Professional Floral Communicators

International Board of Trustees had prepped flowers for the Sylvia Cup Design Competition. Marlin Hargrove, AAF, AIFD, PFCI, of the Pete Garcia Company in Atlanta; Robbin Yelverton, AAF, AIFD, CF, MCF, PFCI, of Blumz by…JRDesigns in metro Detroit; Jenny Behlings, AAF, AIFD, PFCI, SDCF, of Jenny’s Floral in Custer, South Dakota; D Damon Samuel, AAF, AIFD, NAFD, NMF, PFCI, of the Bill Doran Company in Omaha, Nebraska, and Susan Wilke, AAF, PFCI, of Karthauser & Sons Wholesale Florist in Franklin, Wisconsin.

Meskers also noted another significant transition: Moran is retiring at the end of the year from his post after 33 years.

Meskers recalled for dinner attendees that, 20 years ago, Moran, SAF COO Drew Gruenburg, Jim Leider of Leider Greenhouses in Buffalo Grove, Illinois, and Paul Ecke of the famed Ecke Ranch in Encinitas, California, paid a visit to Oregon Flowers. “I thought they were interested in a tour and eventually realized they were there to get me to join SAF,” he said with a laugh. “Well, when I was face-to-face with Jim Leider, Paul Ecke, Peter and Drew, what choice did I have? I joined and the rest is history.” Meskers went on to detail Moran’s extensive contributions to SAF and the industry at large. “Peter reinvented the SAF governance and volunteer structure two different times in his 26 years as CEO,” he said, before presenting Moran with a scrapbook of letters and memories from people in the industry. “He managed the industry’s involvement in four different presidential inaugurations. He led efforts to design and implement national marketing programs for the industry. And most recently he managed the sale and relocation of SAF headquarters. Peter, you have really done a phenomenal job for SAF over the years, and I am very pleased that I could witness your leadership skills from a front row seat.”

Kate Penn, currently chief content officer and editor-in-chief of Floral Management, will assume the role of CEO effective November 1. Moran will help work through the transition through the end of the year. Some business from the event has necessarily been left unfinished. Voting members who were registered for SAF Palm Beach 2017 soon will receive ballots for the association’s board of directors election, and the group’s Awards Committee will decide soon whether to present 2017 awards remotely, or save them for the 2018 convention in Palm Springs, California. Floral Management’s Marketer of the Year — traditionally announced at convention — will be unveiled in the September issue of Floral Management, on Friday, when the digital edition goes live. Acknowledging disappointment about the cancellation, Meskers nonetheless praised volunteers and staff for coming together and he thanked the event’s sponsors for their continued support.

Feeling disappointed that you won’t get to soak in the education from SAF Palm Beach 2017? We are, too. Look for tips, advice and insight from some of our convention speakers in upcoming issues of Floral Management magazine.