Sam Ferrara, co-founder of Passion Growers, is PMA's 2014 Floral Marketer of the Year.
Ferrara was presented with the award by 2013 Floral Marketer of the Year Joe Don Zetzsche at the Saturday, Oct. 18 Floral Networking Reception at Fresh Summit in Anaheim, California.
The following is a portion of Zetzsche's presentation:
"The Floral Marketer of the Year Award recognizes one outstanding individual each year who has served the mass-market floral industry with dedication and distinction. That means this is a leadership award. It promotes professional development within our industry, but publicly recognizing those who've served the industry above and beyond the norm.
But it's also an innovation award, in that it isn't a design award, or a merchandising award — it goes well beyond job skills to recognize industry-wide excellence. Our winner is both an industry leader and an innovator... and quite simply a gracious member of the floral community.
This person's leadership and innovative thinking has guided the creation of new merchandising, products and technology that have made a difference where it matters most: in a retail environment selling more flowers to U.S. consumers. This person believes we can always do more, never settles for status quo and always pushes to get ahead. It's as if success is in his DNA.
Experiences as a senior leader in retail have made our winner not only an expert in the floral department, but also an expert on the entire store. He can walk a store and tell you what works and what doesn't. His gut instinct is spot on — he knows what sells.
And while his competitiveness is legendary, he still takes time to meet new members of the floral industry and always lends an ear or offers advice. One colleague said when they first met and he'd see our honoree at customer events, our winner would always have an opinion to offer on how this business should be run. That colleague said he soon found himself purposely searching out our winner at such events so he'd be sure he'd learn something.
Whether we know it or not, this year's Floral Marketer of the Year has taught us all something about the floral industry — even if you don't realize it.
Yet our winner would credit his people, at every level of his company, as key to success. In the testimonies we received about this year's winner, it's obvious that respect is mutual. Perhaps his positive attitude is at the root of his success and admiration. As another colleague pointed out, it could be the worst freeze in Columbia, but everything would be coming up roses in our winner's eyes.
No wonder he's hard to say no to — and lucky for the floral industry so is Bob Wegman, who asked our winner all those years ago to leave the meat department and take over all of Wegmans' floral. Ironically, our winner begrudgingly agreed.
Now, he whispers, and the flowers bloom. He speaks, and buyers listen. He can sell you a product you didn't even know you needed — and once you have it, you can't believe you ever lived without it.
When he drove his Corvette off the lot, its price increased in value. He is famous — or perhaps I should say infamous — for his driving skills.
His legend precedes him, the way lightning precedes thunder. On a recent trip to Graceland, Elvis came back from the dead to meet him. Hmm... this is starting to sound familiar.
He's a great friend and business partner. He's a true family man, and a wonderful father. In fact, showing up to a family event isn't optional. That's why they're all here tonight!
He doesn't always buy flowers, but when he does... he buys Passion Roses."