Rex Henderson, who built a great team and department during two decades of excellence as director of floral, was honored with a retirement party May 31, his last day as a member of the management team at United Supermarkets LLC.
“It’s just been a wonderful honor being part of this company,” Henderson said during the ceremony. “It’s truly amazing how much our company has grown in the last 20 years. It’s just been phenomenal to see it and to be a part of it.”
When Henderson, who grew up as part of a family floral business, joined the United team on the last day of 1993, the company did not have a floral department. “When he started, floral sales were just about zero,” said Chief Merchandising Officer Wes Jackson. “Rex has built the floral department into a multimillion dollar business, and a business where we now do over $1 million just for Valentine’s Day.”
Henderson said it was important to him that United maintain the values of a family florist within the walls of a family-owned retail grocer. It was new territory for United in the early 1990s, but with more than 30 years in the floral industry already on his résumé, Henderson brought vision, people skills and commitment to his new position.
It was his leadership, Jackson explained, that guided the development of what he called an unrivaled floral department.
“He built the team and the infrastructure to grow from zero dollars with no systems and no processes to a best-in-class floral department,” Jackson said. “The business grew rapidly from the day one, to having floral in 21 (of 50) stores today. We now sell lots of flowers through our stores, and he has put a team in place to continue and to build on to his legacy, and I know we here at United have a world of confidence in the team he’s put in place to carry on.”
Bradley Gaines, a longtime member of the floral team, is the new director of floral. Gaines, who will celebrate 22 years with United on July 4, has worked his way up through the company, most recently serving as regional floral supervisor since 1998.
Henderson said he was proud of what the floral team has accomplished during his tenure.
“I would put our floral up against anyone,” he said. “We have great designers and great partners, and because of that we can compete with anyone. This business is all about the people and building a team that can help you cross the hurdles, get over the bumps and keep on going.”
While he said there were a lot of memorable moments during his career, he recalled that United’s decision to open its first Market Street in Wichita Falls was a defining moment for him and for the company. “That was a big moment,” he said, “because I don’t think anyone knew at the time how it was going to work, but here we are 11 (Market Street) stores later.”