ORLANDO, Fla. —
Carlos Oramas, CEO and co-founder of Gems Group, Inc., received Produce Marketing Association’s (PMA) 2018 Floral Marketer of the Year award on Friday, Oct. 19, during the floral reception at PMA’s Fresh Summit Convention & Expo in Orlando.
The 2017 winner, Juan Carlos Hannaford, president of floral grower The Elite Flower, presented the award before a crowd of about 500 members of the global floral community who gathered to network and celebrate at PMA’s Floral Flamingle Reception.
The room erupted in applause, and as Oramas made his way to the podium to accept the award, which was a surprise announcement, his family also made a surprise appearance and joined the celebration.
Oramas thanked those in attendance and said the award belonged to each of them as well for helping to advance the industry.
“Wow. Wow that’s all I can say. It is very, very fulfilling to think that 25 years ago I stumbled across this amazing industry in a very nondescript little warehouse by the airport [in Miami] and fell in love with what was going to be ultimately my career, and something that has been very true and dear to me,” said Oramas. “But, what I have loved most about that whole journey has been all of you and the things we’ve done together and how we’ve collaborated… and how we’ve reached a little bit further and a little bit deeper, knowing that there was always an opportunity for more. It’s the people of this industry that this award belongs to. It’s you.”
He also encouraged and challenged those in attendance to continue efforts to increase consumption, noting that Americans buy flowers on average only two-and-a-half times a year.
“We can do much better than that. And we will. Let’s change that,” he urged, as the audience applauded in agreement.
Before embracing his family and colleagues, Oramas added, “I’m humbled, grateful and indebted, and I will continue to serve this industry for as long as you’ll have me do it.”
Established in 1981, the award was created to honor an individual who has served the mass-market floral industry with innovative insight, passionate commitment, and who has demonstrated superior leadership in improving and advancing the industry with dedication, distinction and excellence.
Each year, winners of the Floral Marketer of the Year award for the prior five years serve on the Nominations Committee to select that year’s honoree.
Oramas joined the floral industry in 1993 and spent several years in sales and marketing roles before co-founding Gems in 2003. He serves as board member and past president of the Association of Floral Importers of Florida and is currently the vice chair of the PMA Floral Council. Oramas will also now serve as a director on the 2018-2019 PMA Board of Directors, which took office Oct. 17. Oramas received his bachelor’s degree in business administration from Florida International University, a master’s in international business administration from Nova Southeastern University and has been a Vistage member since 2009. He is also an active volunteer in his local and church community.
Several colleagues nominated Oramas for the award. Among them was Michael Schrader, floral director for Schnuck Markets, Inc., and PMA’s 2016 Floral Marketer of the Year winner.
“Carlos is one of the best advocates for our industry. He is always looking for ways to increase consumption,” said Schrader. “His commitment and personality are contagious and inspiring. He has one of the best merchant mentalities in the industry, and it is a privilege to work with and know him. Carlos always sees the cup as half full.”
Bonnie Armellini, partner at Gems Group, Inc., had similar praise for her coworker. “We have been together for the last 25 years and partners for the last 15. It has been a relationship of a lifetime, and one that I treasure with all my heart,” said Armellini. “No one deserves this honor more than Carlos Oramas. His passion for this industry goes beyond words.”
Joe Don Zetzche, director of floral and BLOOMS Floral Shops, H-E-B, also nominated Oramas. “If I had to describe Carlos with one word, it would be passionate. Carlos does everything with passion. He’s always at the center of a conversation, leading it forward with large gestures,” said Zetzche, who also serves as PMA Marketing Steering Committee chair, is chair-elect of the 2018-2019 PMA Board of Directors, and a former PMA Floral Council chair.
“Carlos is a strategic thinker and he has the floral industry as a whole on his mind at all times,” continued Zetzche. “He leads forward with his actions, and he and the company are at the forefront of the innovation curve, always.
“If you were to ask Carlos to describe himself in one word, he would say ‘marketer,’” added Zetzche. “His approach and the strategic way he built the Gem’s team around him is first and foremost about ‘making flowers make sense’ to more and more consumers daily.”
Zetzche also described Oramas as a mentor who is knowledgeable, yet unpretentious. “Carlos is welcoming, always with a kind word and smile. He is humble, and I’ve seen him approach strangers and become friends with them in minutes,” said Zetzche. “He makes me smarter. He is someone I purposefully spend time with to learn from, and to sharpen my skills and thinking against. He is also a true friend.”
Gems Group, Inc., based in Miami, Florida, is described on its website as a lifestyle company in the business of creating demand for fresh flowers in everyday life that specializes in the supermarket channel. Gems products are designed in the United States, and hand crafted on two certified farms in Medellin and Bogotá, Colombia.