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IFE closes out Miami Beach run with uptick in exhibits, buyers

MIAMI BEACH, FL — The International Floriculture Expo closed out a five-year run at the Miami Beach Convention Center here with an uptick in exhibitors — 211 booths, 30 more than last year — and buyers, with nine out of the top 10 supermarket chains and “key buyer” attendance up 11 percent over 2012. Next year’s IFE show will be held June 10-13 at the Morial Convention Center in New Orleans, it was announced at the show.

Bob Callahan, show manager for Diversified Business Communications Inc., said his highlights were “the education program, the growth of the show floor and the quality of attendees walking the show floor.” The new hands-on education program format was well received, he said, as buyers worked in interactive sessions with top designers.

01-IFE7-29-13-PROCACCI-BROSFrank Galindo, floral director for Procacci Bros. in Philadelphia, accepted the IFE Best New Product award with Joe Vitale, cactus and succulent grower, and James Gandolfo, also a floral director, in the background. The winning Succulent Purse is on the podium.“This year’s sessions not only inspired creativity, they taught how-to merchandising techniques,” he added in an interview. “The State of the Industry session also stood out, as grower representatives from California and Columbia shared their passions about their areas. This session was scheduled for an hour but could have easily gone on for two or three hours.”

Exhibits increased over 2012, expanding by 3,000 square feet into 71,000 square feet of exhibit space. Callahan said IFE 2013 had 60 first-time exhibitors on the show floor, compared to 45 last year. The New Product Showcase had 55 products displayed, he said, 10 more than in 2012. Total attendance, including exhibitors, was up about 6 percent.

“Our recent investments the past two years, such as making the education program free, increasing the number of complimentary hotel rooms and making the show floor more interactive, has really paid off,” Callahan concluded. A record 92 percent of exhibitors already booked their exhibit space for the 2014 IFE, he noted.

The keynote address, “Leapfrogging to Breakthrough Innovation” by Soren Kaplan, featured a dialogue with the audience. Kaplan recounted how WD-40, the lubricant, was named after 39 trial versions failed, and how Wikipedia, the online encyclopedia, got only 24 entries its first two years.

Kaplan listed key themes and gave examples of each: Change how you charge (selling clothing by the pound), expand your offerings (pop-up kiosks); create surprise (give customers a penny minted in their birth year); and reward entrepreneurship (with symbols and “conversational credit,” not cash).

The Iron Designer Contest on the theme “hand-tied bouquets extreme” was won by J Schwanke, host of an online flower show, who bested eight designers in the 20-minute scramble with mystery products including a host of bottles and balloons. One contestant, Mark Frank of Holland, managed to use all the materials in a giant arrangement bound with Flexwrap, a new tape that adheres to itself.

The flower-naming ceremony introduced a new variety of purplish-blue iris grown by Sun Valley Group that was named to honor Anna Ball, chief executive officer of Ball Horticultural Co. Ball was not present due to business travel. Past honorees Cindy Hanauer and Bobbi Ecker presented the award.

Best Booth award went to Bottomley Evergreens & Farms while Proccaci Bros. won Best New Product for its Succulent Purse. Thirteen education sessions covered topics such as floral décor for celebrations, gift baskets, social media and consumer trends.