On March 6–8, the Wholesale Florist and Florist Supplier Association (WF&FSA) welcomed over 600 attendees to the 2023 Floral Distribution Conference (FDC) in Miami, FL. Ahead of 2022 numbers, this year’s conference sets the stage for conferences to come.
On the morning of Monday, March 6, WF&FSA wholesalers and suppliers began setting up for what turned out to be an elaborate display of flowers, foliage, and greenery. Exhibits consisted of some of the world’s most unique and exquisite arrangements, floral accessories, and tech to propel the industry forward. This year’s conference, in every way, lived up to its theme, “The Future in Bloom.”
2023 Table Tops on display at the Floral Distribution Conference. Photos by Ross Stewart.
Wholesaler Discussion Groups made its way back for the second year in a row. The perfect environment allowing for open forum discussion, dialog centered around topics concerning labor, staffing, transportation, and logistics to name a few. It provided an opportunity for colleagues to share strategies, successes, and even the pitfalls of business.
WF&FSA leadership welcomed some new faces to this year’s conference with an informal meet-and-greet during Monday’s VIP Reception. The reception serves as an opportunity for new members and first-time attendees to meet the leadership, network, and form relationships in an unobtrusive, non-competitive environment. “This was our first time attending a WF&FSA FDC and it exceeded our expectations,” said first-time attendees Mike and Anne Wilkinson of Pilgrim Packaging, Inc. “The event was well organized, and it provided every opportunity to network, learn, and develop relationships within the floral industry. [We] walked away with more knowledge, energy, inspiration, and contacts than expected. We will definitely attend again.”
Other events included the return of Speed Networking, sponsored by Smithers-Oasis. During this 90-minute event, wholesalers and suppliers participated in lightning-fast discussion rounds providing the opportunity to accelerate business in a targeted and impactful way. The evening concluded with an Opening Party in the Table Top venue.
After an evening of leisure, attendees returned early Tuesday morning with the commencement of Table Tops at 9:00 AM, followed by the President’s Address, Leland T. Kintzele (LTK) Award Ceremony, and General Session sponsored by Continental Flowers. President Patrick Busch welcomed attendees and thanked members for their commitment and investment in not only WF&FSA but their companies, people, and the floral community. He went on to acknowledge the success and overwhelming turnout of this year’s conference by saying, “We have more suppliers, more wholesalers, and more sponsors than virtually any year in recent WF&FSA history.” After recognizing the relentless dedication of WF&FSA’s marketing and education committees, volunteers, and board members, Busch revealed upcoming activities for 2023, including DevX, new focus areas for LearnX, and the Flower Movement. He went on to encourage members to get involved in the Flower Movement and this year’s onsite activity of creating floral arrangements to donate to the generous administrative and hospitality staff of the Doral.
After Busch’s opening remarks, he revealed the winner of the LTK Distinguished Service Award. The award recognizes individuals who have made substantial contributions to the floral industry and have shown distinguished service exemplifying integrity, fairness, perseverance, and decisiveness. Busch announced Robert Shibata of Mt. Eden Floral as the 2023 LTK award recipient.
LTK Award Recipient Rob Shibata with 2022–2023 WF&FSA President Patrick Busch. Photos by Ross Stewart.
After the award presentation, Busch introduced to the stage Alex Chausovsky, Director of Analytics and Consulting with the Miller Resource Group. Mr. Chausovsky delivered a presentation titled, Building an Effective Talent Strategy: Proven Tactics to Attract, Hire, and Retain Your Most Valuable Asset. Following his presentation was a panel discussion on the topic of workforce development. Panelists included Holly Moore of Syndicate Sales, Erin Schueller of Len Busch Roses, and Kenzie Huber of DWF.
The day ended with Table Tops as attendees prepared for an evening of fun, food, drinks, and salsa dancing at the WF&FSA Little Havana After Party.
Guests enjoy salsa dancing, fortune tellers, and time spent catching up. Photos by Ross Stewart.
Attendees kicked off the final day of the conference with a networking breakfast before heading into the Business Session sponsored by Pete Garcia Company/Garcia Group. During the business meeting, Busch once again thanked all the sponsors for making the 2023 FDC a huge success. He acknowledged outgoing board member, Gary Staton with the Bill Doran Company, for his contributions to the association. Busch went on to thank immediate Past President Gabriel Becerra for his deep commitment to the floral industry and incredible dedication to the launch of the Flower Movement.
WF&FSA 2022–2023 President with Outgoing Board Member Gary Staton. Photos by Ross Stewart.
The 2023–2024 slate of board candidates was presented with Karen Oie of Smither-Oasis accepting the First Vice President position and Freddy Melero of Choice Farms accepting the Treasurer position. Busch also acknowledged new Directors of the Board joining for a three-year term: Erin Brotherton of DWF; John Burk of DVFlora; and Chris Burgland of Washington Floral Service, Inc. The new slate of candidates was accepted by membership and motion passed.
The time finally came for the honored tradition of the passing of the gavel. Busch introduced WF&FSA’s newest President, Darin Dewberry of Pete Garcia Company/Garcia Group whose involvement with the association spans several decades.
Dewberry took his position on stage and accepted the gavel, symbolizing the start of his term as WF&FSA President. He thanked the leadership, and more specifically Patrick, for their service.
2023–2024 President Darin Dewberry accepts the gavel from Patrick Busch. Photos by Ross Stewart.
“I would like to thank all the past presidents and past board members who helped coach me along the way,” said Dewberry. “The spirit of paying it forward to the next in line is a key to WFFSA’s success that we will continue.”
Keynote speaker and business growth expert Jeff Havens was then introduced to the stage to deliver his dynamic presentation, Uncrapify Your Future.
Keynote presenter Jeff Havens. Photos by Ross Stewart.
Following Jeff's remarks, guests celebrated the end of another successful FDC meeting and took one more spin around the show floor.