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Sun Valley Floral Farms wins 2014 Marketer of the Year Award at SAF convention

In the 21-year history of the Floral Management Marketer of the Year Award, no farmer has ever won it. That all changed on Aug. 15 at the 130th annual Society of American Florists convention in Marco Island, FL, when Sun Valley Floral Farms in Arcata, CA, was presented with the coveted title for its tireless efforts on building awareness and demand for Women’s Day.

“This is not about Sun Valley,” Lane DeVries, chief executive officer of the company said in his acceptance speech. “This is about the American flower industry.”

For the last several years Sun Valley Floral Farms have worked hard behind the scenes to increase flower consumption among Americans. Most people would find it surprising to hear that per capita, Americans spend less on flowers than smaller populated countries such as Greece and Slovenia.

DeVries noticed that the two biggest days for the floral industry, Valentine’s Day and Mother’s Day, could also be our greatest hindrances. Flower farms across the globe are at maximum production for those two holidays, yet in between them there is a large gap in sales and production.

In an effort to make the pie bigger for everyone in the floral industry, DeVries and his marketing team set out to increase attention on a holiday that began in 1909 in New York to celebrate women and their resilience in the face of adversity. Originally called “National Women’s Day,” and celebrated yearly on March 8, it’s had strong international support; particularly in Eastern Europe and Russia, but never really gained momentum in the United States. But worldwide, it is one of the biggest floral holidays of the year, especially for retailers in areas with large European populations.

In 2009, DeVries began a grassroots campaign to promote the holiday, and he encourages everyone in the floral industry to jump on the Women’s Day bandwagon.

“It’s low-hanging fruit,” DeVries said. “Everyone can participate because it doesn’t require any particular flower or color. But the best attribute is that it’s for 50 percent of the population, not just for mothers, wives, fiancées or girlfriends.”

Due to the efforts of the Sun Valley team, the industry is seeing a large upswing in sales as florists, mass-market retailers and online flower delivery businesses embrace the holiday.

Bill Prescott is the marketing and communications associate for Sun Valley Floral Farms in Arcata, CA. He can be reached at bprescott@tsvg.com.