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Alan: Welcome back, I’m here today with Dirk Lorenz, Dirk is the owner of Fremont Flowers, a business that has been around Fremont since 1959.
Alan: Dirk, welcome to today’s show
Dirk: Thank you for having me.
Alan: So Dirk give me some background of what you did early in your career and how you came up to be the owner of Fremont flowers.
Dirk: Okay good question, because it wasn’t something I ever anticipated I would do in my life. I knew in high school after being voted most artistic that I wanted to do something with my hands. And I always knew I wanted to own my own business. So after high school I went to college for computer science learned all those languages--hatted it. Just hatted it, it wasn’t for me. Went to work at the San Jose airport in my late teens worked at Hertz and Budget Rent-A-Car. So I thought, maybe I want to do something with automobiles, so I met with a family friend who was local here in Fremont, she was a real estate agent and she said, how about a florist? And I said, Oh I don’t know the difference between a daisy and a carnation. I want to do something with automobiles, repairs or something. And she said, “keep an open mind” and I tell you after being personally in business now for 30 years that was the best advice anybody ever gave keep an open mind so bought the flower shop in 1984 and the rest is history.
Alan: It must have been an interesting venture not knowing the difference between the carnation and the daisy to say I’m going to be a florist.
Dirk: I assure you I now know the difference between the carnation and a daisy. No concern.
Alan: Moving into that did you have to do any research or what what really drove you say I'd want to do the florist route?
Dirk: You know, I was 21 at the time I did have an open mind and just a willingness to jump all in and once I got into the business there were several trade organization working get my education on not only design but the business aspect of it and that's really was kind of on-the-job training at that time there was in a formal school let's say for floral design so that's how I can move into the business and mastered it but I think most important to any business is especially the floral business is marketing just being able to market your business and that's where we had a lot of success.
Alan: Now when you up when you started in with Fremont Flowers it had been around for 25 years
Alan: And so what vision did you set out from what they were doing to what you wanted to do?
Dirk: Great question and I’ll just mention this the company is the floral businesses really very unusual insofar as small businesses are concerned because your bulk sales organization a production facility and the delivery business can all wrapped into one the only ones that I can think is a little work challenging perhaps his restaurant business which isn't that different you sell produce and deliver your product except I was sent it on the restaurant is a mix of sick people if you don’t do it right. But that was the most challenging aspect of getting into this business and I was 21 years old at the time and I think it was just having this open mind and going into it and no preconceived ideas of what it should be but I was like a sponge and I the people that I work with then and now we we really worked together in this business it's another family and so I think that that's probably what contributed to me being successful in the business is just open to these my team members and my family.
Alan: Your family has been a longtime resident of you four generations back to the 1860s that is use some of the early pioneers that's right that's right so Labadie when you got involved when he read it you get your family involved with you working the business
Dirk: Yes as a matter fact at the time we purchased at my brother was my partner and we had a discussion we said you know, Dad’s getting ready to retire we want we want to keep busy lets bring him into the business so dad came into the business also and since then both my brother my father passed but I’ll tell you, it's been a blessing really working with family in the business you hear a lot of stories of an see anymore in some of these reality TV shows about family conflict well our business really created family harmony and that probably as I'm sitting on a rocking chair on the porch hopefully many many years from now looking back on my career probably the one aspect of the business it I will look back fondly because it really brought myself and my father together working together and create a greater understanding about how hard my father worked supporting a very large family and as I stepped into the business I work that way also and it just greedy greater understanding for everything he did for us.
Alan: I’m visiting here today with Dirk Lorenz he’s the owner of Fremont flowers the business has been in Fremont since 1959 and he’s owned it since 1984. Dirk I need to take quick break and we'll be right back after these messages and I want to get to where we are today. We’ll be right back after these messages.
Alan: Welcome back I’m here today with Dirk Lorenz he’s the owner of Fremont Flower shops a businesses that’s been in Fremont society 1959 and he’s owned it since 1984. Dirk that the world of flowers as a business you've had seen this happen involved in this market your local grocery store their selling flowers and that unite I imagine that sad trying to keep pace with the family-owned business in an ever-changing market is not easy.
Dirk: You are absolutely correct and Alan that's probably the one word but I think my employees hear me say the most is relevancy how do we maintain our relevancy not only going through the great recession that we went through but also in this day and age as you pointed out of everybody seems to be selling flowers actually US consumption of flowers is up to an all-time high but the brick-and-mortar retail floors percentage of that has decreased over the years so that's where the comments on relevance, and how do we maintain relevancy as a business in this day and age of national chains and Internet commerce how do we maintain relevancy one of the ways that we've done it and we just celebrated our welcome teacher day is the kids start back to school is reaching out to elementary school kids who probably don't know that a freestanding brick-and-mortar flower shop exists because it gone to the grocery store or the farmers market and they see flowers here and that's where a lot of flowers purchase so we started welcome teacher day and what we did on welcome teacher day was we invited your elementary school kids down to the shop for free bud vase to take to the teacher on the first day of school we saw over 1200 students at welcome teacher day to the degree we're talking earlier we had have traffic controls of local art to control the traffic coming in so that's one way that were trying to maintain our relevancy in our marketing efforts in our outreach efforts to let this new generation of buyers know that a we exist.
Alan: You have to be creative was that your brainchild who came up with welcome teacher day?
Dirk: I will take total credit welcome teacher day it was an extension of what we used to call good neighbor day were we given dozen roses to anybody came to the shop well in time that wasn't as relevant anymore so we transition to the welcome teacher day which we branded and it's just huge now.
Alan: The logistics for the flower market worldwide I understand that most flowers passed through Amsterdam?
Dirk: Well a lot of flowers go through the auction in Amsterdam but so many more flowers these days are coming from South America. The US has made deals with many countries to grow floral product products as opposed other products and then they come throughout Miami and then there should doubt throughout the United States and Canada but Miami’s the main port of entry for these flowers. So South America primarily a little bit from Amsterdam but so much worldwide depending on the season like now we get tulips out of Australia is it to bring winter flower and so we that's where we resource those.
Alan: It's amazing how you able to keep it all seasonal flowers with logistics.
Dirk: Correct logistics its all about logistics.
Alan: So did I need take a quick break and I like to come back to the space than what talk more about the online competition floral industry. I’m visiting here today with Dirk Lorenz he’s the owner of Fremont flowers we’ve been visiting today about is a young the evolution of flower market here in Fremont and that how listing the best market will be right back after these messages.
Alan: Welcome back I’m visiting here today with Dirk Lorenz he’s the owner of Fremont Flowers a floral shop that’s been in Fremont since 1959 Dirks has owned it since 1984 we've been visiting about you know how to stay abreast of the market in a fast-paced society I want to turn the page though to talk about the new national Association that was created and then how it competes with the online florist key tells more about.
Dirk: I would loved to well several years ago after a very busy Mother's Day season I was talking with a florist friend back in Atlanta Georgia and she was saying how the national chain really good let her down that year making promises that they did deliver on. I said we need to do something about this and so I reach out to florist up in Oregon and one in Sparks Nevada along with us Atlanta florist and we came together in Sparks to brainstorm how we would transition our industry if we even could do that and is being one of the core 4 we refer to ourselves of the four members it came together we established the Real Local Florist Brand I'm wearing the shirt here today real local florist is all about improving the economics of the brick-and-mortar flower shop nationwide while it gets extended beyond our borders now it's in Canada a little bit the UK and Australia such really spreading right now we have 300+ members we have a national consumer directory on the web real local florists.com but a consumer can get on interest city and it will display the information for the brick-and-mortar floors located in that community why this is important is because a lot of the national what we call order gatherers are those who sit in offices in Detroit Michigan and market themselves as local florists in my market week we need to educate the consumer because there's been so much deception in in their marketing practices and it hurts the floral industry in general when consumers are disappointed they stop wanting to send flowers and they go to other online gift giving choices that they may have so what real local florists is doing is assuring the consumer that yesterday dealing with a real local florist in your community where the money you spend in that community stays in that community which is vitally important as you know that as we support our local businesses they're the ones about it many times of a heart solo that community and they get back to the community so we just feel it's imperative that we raise the awareness of the real brick-and-mortar shops throughout this country and it intimate spread since then we've had some conversations with the corner drugstores of brick-and-mortar drugstores about doing something similar to raising awareness of the importance of doing business locally.
Alan: have you been able to take advantage of the technologies that advances in helping to create this organization with the real local florist
Dirk: Yes absolutely and I'm very happy to say that the software suite that accomplishes all this was developed right here in Fremont by a local software engineer who is brilliant in this building and we've been marketing it throughout the United States and just building more and more awareness for the cause and also having one more members join I think last week I can reportedly 145 new member join this justice desire out there on the part of the stricken mourners for someone to help them help the brick-and-mortar shops as opposed to the national wire services that compete against the shops so were finding
Alan: That’s interesting so they so you look at the wire services actually competition as he tried to accomplish.
Dirk: absolutely those traditional wire services which many of them know the names of those services now compete with the retail think they compete when you place an order with one of their.com businesses they may very well send it back to my shop but I'm receiving $.68-$.69 on the dollar for each one of those orders and I know as a brilliant CAP it is very difficult to make money when you're your discounting order
Alan: taking a third of your market. So with the real local forces all about combining an independent network of floors and down making them available to the to the end-user by essential website or…
Dirk: RealLocalFlorist.com is a central website that not only provides a directory of any florist- you can click on any shop to you directly to that florist's website. So the way I look at it, it’s not unlike the Ace Hardware's of this world. All are independently owned and you got Aces overarm writing kind of organization that handles marketing and driving the consumer to those individual brick-and-mortar stores or the good neighbor pharmacy kind of the same get the word out had a 145 stores.
Alan: It’s no easy under taking but how do you market or recruit more members?
Dirk: Sure it's a very young organizations probably about three years old at this point time sort were gaining momentum but a lot of it is just getting out of the trade fairs are the tradeshows floral events throughout the United States travel quite a bit we recently had the SAF of conventional Society of American Florist convention back in Florida but we had a presence there are so kind and taken it to the streets one shop anytime at this point time until we get the critical mass of members that the marketing fund then and were developing the collateral now can be produced and mailed to shops to again gain more members in the organization.
Alan: And you’re the president of this organization?
Dirk: I am the secretary of the relation that I've I I got some of the things I'm obligated or were working towards his year that I sent will be the secretary but again be president at this point in time.
Alan: okay I did hear today with Dirk Lorenz and Dirk if someone wants to get in contact with you for more information on the real florist network how would they do so they can to get onto well real local florists.com enter Fremont California my shop is your contact information is there or Dirk.Lorenzo@fremontflowers.com is my email address I'm always on that the smart phone you know so a good about returning those emails.
Alan: thank you for joining today show
Dirk: thank you for having me.
Alan: we’ll be right back after these messages.