FLORAL INDUSTRY BLOOMS AT IFE SHOW

SPEAKERS, SESSIONS AND SPECIAL EVENTS OFFERED MUCH FOR ATTENDEES TO TAKE AWAY – PLUS BREAKING NEWS ON THE 2019 EXPO.

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FLORAL INDUSTRY BLOOMS AT IFE SHOW
The 2018 IFE show, at Chicago’s McCormick Place, hosted more that 225 exhibitors of floriculture products and nearly 1,500 buyers/aendees.

Attending the International Floriculture Expo (IFE) was like stepping into a fairy-tale land of flowers and enchanting design. More than 60,000 square feet of fresh blooms made one almost light-headed with the scent of millions of blossoms. IFE, which is the largest B2B floriculture show in North America, was held in June, in Chicago, Ill. More than 225 vendors were on hand to showcase new products, services and trends in the floral industry and to network with nearly 1,500 floral buyers and other industry professionals.

Education Day
The first day of the show was sponsored by Super Floral magazine and burton + BURTON, and was dedicated to floral education. Multiple sessions offered included exciting new ideas in merchandising; technology advances; employee hiring, training and motivating; and much more.

To kick off the education sessions, Jackie Lacey, AIFD, PFCI, led a thought-provoking session in which he shared the latest industry statistics in floral retail that included ideas on targeting your buyers, unique ways to market to them, using social media to your advantage and more.

In a lively and colorful presentation, burton + BURTON wowed attendees with “The Art + Science Behind Balloon Merchandising.” In what they call “product mixology,” they shared the perfect formula of successful in-store displays.

During lunch, keynote speaker Ken Schmidt, former communications director at Harley- Davidson gave a high-vibe presentation on how to create a loyal customer base and get your customers to become huge advocates for your business.

FLORAL INDUSTRY BLOOMS AT IFE SHOW
Ken Schmidt, former communications director at Harley-Davidson, gave a rousing keynote address on creating loyal customers during the Education Day luncheon.

Four important points Ken Schmidt shared with attendees

  1. Be visibly passionate about what you’re doing in your business. Doing so connects you to your customers and creates lasting relationships.
  2. Create a great experience for people, an emotional connection. Human beings are a joy-seeking species, and we want to have fun and share our experience with others. Make sure your customers remember and repeat (tell others) how much they enjoyed your store and/or your products.
  3. Get people to take part in creating something with you. Have customers create a video or photo with your product in it. This gets shared widely via social media.

The rest of the afternoon was filled with sessions that included using the latest technology to build revenue, creating a culture of employee community, and an exciting unveiling of “The American Floral Trends Forecast” by Keith White, AIFD.

Toast to the Industry Reception
In the evening amid live jazz and champagne bubbles, everyone raised a glass to celebrate the 2018 Merchandising Awards of Excellence presented by Syndicate Sales and Super Floral.

Also that evening, the 9th Annual Flower Naming Ceremony took place to honor Bradley Gaines of United Supermarkets for his more than 20 years of service to the industry. In his honor, a new breed of the sunflower Helianthus annuus from Ball SB was awarded the name and trade designation, “Bradley.”

FLORAL INDUSTRY BLOOMS AT IFE SHOW
The “Iron Designer Competition,” always a highlight of the show, pied eight floral designers from around the country against each other in a “surprise package” design-off with a 20-minute time limit.

Iron Designer Competition
Probably the highlight of many attendees was the 2018 Iron Designer Competition, where eight designers participated in a thrilling contest to create a floral art piece in just 20 minutes. Fresh-cut floral and design elements were revealed moments before the competition started, with finished designs judged by a panel of experts on the spot.

Adam Havrilla, CFD, AIFD, of Artistic Blooms in Chicago, Ill., was chosen as the 2018 champion, a second-time win. Jose Morales, designer at Continental Flowers in Miami, Fla., received the Crowd Choice Award for his design.

FLORAL INDUSTRY BLOOMS AT IFE SHOW
Adam Havrilla, AIFD, PFCI, of Artistic Blooms in Chicago, was chosen by a panel of four judges as the winner of the 2018 “Iron Designer Competition” (his second win!).

FLORAL INDUSTRY BLOOMS AT IFE SHOW

IFE show attendees and exhibitors had many things to say about this year’s show, with many people offering their opinions about the benefits the show had to offer.

“I meet new companies every year here and it’s also great to touch base with vendors I already know. It’s a great place to get a lot of stuff done at once. You’re able to get meetings done and see great new products.”

– John Agnew
Senior Coordinator–Floral, Whole Foods Market

“We’ve been at IFE for 20-plus years now. If you are in the supermarket industry, this is the place to be. You’re going to see everything. I can’t think of another show that’s strictly floral, that’s all about promoting floral, than the International Floriculture Expo.”

– Ed Vermolen, Aldershot Greenhouses

“Our goal is to find new products, to get education and to bring it back to the stores so we can expand. Last year I had a blast, and this year is better, it just came out great.”

– Ellen Dekerlegand, Market Basket Foods

“Education was exceptional this year – I thought it was really topnotch.”

– Bradley Gaines
Floral Director, United Supermarkets

Innovation Battlefield Competition
Hundreds of new products were showcased this year, but only five were selected for the annual Innovation Battlefield Competition. Live presentations included FreshPaq from Chrysal, Team Flag Roses from Farm Direct Corporation, ‘Mini Sasha’ Hydrangea from GROFLOWERS, Twist & Trade from Homestead Growers and the Viizzii Vase from Syndicate Sales. Each company was given two minutes to showcase its innovative new product and win over the audience.

The audience voted Syndicate Sales’ Viizzii Vase this year’s winner. The vase features an LED digital display with interchangeable and personalized messages that can be updated for every occasion, and displays can be updated via Bluetooth with the ease of a personalized app.

Next year, make plans to head south, when the International Floriculture Expo will be moving to its new home in Miami, Fla., June 18-20. With Florida being a hub for the floral industry, the show is expected to grow and be able to offer additional benefits and significant savings to exhibitors and vendors.

FLORAL INDUSTRY BLOOMS AT IFE SHOW
Bradley Gaines, United Supermarkets (left), celebrates with his daughter and wife having a new variety of sunflower, developed by Ball SB, named after him. The new sunflower is now officially known as Helianthus annuus ‘Bradley’.
FLORAL INDUSTRY BLOOMS AT IFE SHOW
IFE show aendees gathered at the “Toast To the Industry Reception” for IFE’s annual “Flower Naming Ceremony,” during which a new sunflower variety was christened ‘Bradley’, after Bradley Gaines, floral director for United Supermarkets.

By Christine Wright
Christine Wright is a freelance writer, traveler, blogger, yoga instructor, and grandmother. She’s a California girl raised in Idaho surrounded by five siblings, a big garden and lots of pets. She has organized events for The Dalai Lama, lived on the island of Bali, worked for many years marketing computer software, backpacked through India and Tibet, and now resides in Utah.