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In the last few years, no one in the floral industry has changed more than the wholesale florist. Today’s wholesalers have worked hard to improve their position in the distribution channel, serving a vital and expanding role in floral distribution. And no organization is as uniquely positioned to meet the needs of floral distribution as is the Wholesale Florist & Florist Supplier Association.

We understand the logistical, operational and marketing challenges that both wholesalers and suppliers face in this changing market, and we tackle the big issues — increasing profitability, improving logistics and reducing operational costs — and will continue to do so in 2013. WF&FSA’s programs, services, events and communications are designed to provide the solutions, guidance and information wholesale florist businesses demand.

DAHLSON-OUTLOOK113-PAT-DAHLPatrick DahlsonOur reenergized Floral Distribution Conference has experienced tremendous growth during the past few years after we reinvented the format and moved the meeting to Miami. Over the last three years, attendance has jumped more than 15 percent each year, to 800 in 2012. Our attendees tell us this is due in large part to the programming, the tabletop exhibits and the convenience of Miami, enabling companies to conduct more than just WF&FSA business.

This winning formula will continue with even greater focus on providing educational programs with immediate take-home value. We are already working on programs for 2013 — an exploration of emerging markets, connecting with technology, identifying your niche and selling to the end user.

The 2013 conference will be held at the Doral Resort in Miami, Oct. 23-25.

Our management institute in 2013 will offer an information-intensive sales presentation to help attendees compile a personal inventory of their selling skills and learn new ways to maximize selling success. They will learn how to implement a more competitive style and approach to sell their most important customers. This year’s institute will be held in Charlotte, NC, March 15-16.

WF&FSA committees continue to bring value to the members. The marketing committee recommends strategies and initiatives to grow the association; create and distribute useful market intelligence and industry data; and engage in cost-effective promotion of cut-flower consumption through channels served by wholesale florists.

The education committee is a catalyst to attract, connect and engage by giving value. Our goal is to develop programs for the industry and to network and do commerce.

The operations committee identifies and validates best practices to enhance members’ productivity and their customers’ satisfaction.

The technology committee provides insights, resources and standards to empower member networking, education and commerce.

WF&FSA has done an excellent job of reinventing itself over the past couple of years. But we are not content. We recognize that even though the momentum is carrying WF&FSA in the right direction, we can and must do better. We must continually look at ourselves in the mirror and ensure that WF&FSA conveys a clear message to both members and potential members as to who we are, what we stand for and the value we provide.

I invite you to learn more about our association by visiting www.wffsa.org.

Patrick Dahlson, owner and chief operating officer of Mayesh Wholesale Florist in Los Angeles, is president of the Wholesale Florist & Florist Supplier Association. He can be reached through its offices in Annapolis, MD, at 410/940-6580.