A well-known florist in Sarasota, Florida, has sold the retail and wholesale arm of his business to dedicate more time to developing marketing and technology tools for the floral industry.
Art Conforti, PFCI, sold Beneva Flowers on Nov. 4. He now plans to spend more time with Beneva Solutions, “creating technology that connects consumers to retail florists” including his Floralapp.
But the longtime florist, who has often shared his insights and ideas with Society of American Florists members through Floral Management magazine and SAF events — isn’t getting out of the retail flower game entirely.
“I’ll be spending 80 percent of my time at Solutions and 20 percent with Beneva [Flowers], overseeing business strategies, attending team meetings, assisting in design creations and retail sales efforts,” said Conforti, who was a speaker at SAF Amelia Island 2015 during “How I Did It,” a Ted Talk-inspired panel charting the successful careers of industry members.
Conforti sold the business to a family from Chicago, with a background in distribution.
“The new owner and his wife plan on growing up the coast of Florida, with verticals like plant leasing, landscape and more services,” Conforti said, adding that both he and the new owners are optimistic about the new venture.
In fact, Conforti said the strong brand helped make his business an attractive option for buyers — that, and the business’s strong overall health and cash flow. The formula is something he suggests more florists should think about, particularly as they begin to map out an exit strategy. (While his daughter plans to stay involved, neither of Conforti’s children wanted to take over the business.)
“If it wasn’t for branding and marketing, they wouldn’t be buying,” said Conforti. “When you go into the business, you should always have a plan of getting out.”
Conforti fielded several offers for his business but chose the buyers in part because they were a family with a background in family businesses.
“It’s been a great run,” Conforti said. “We started in 1986, and it was the greatest trip of my life. It was rewarding, it put my kids through school. I love this industry, and I look forward to helping fellow florists achieve similar results.”
Carol Caggiano, AIFD, PFCI, made a similar case for preparing early for an eventual sale in a Viewpoint for Floral Management magazine earlier this year. “One day,” she wrote, “you are going to leave your business. The time to start taking practical, measurable steps toward retirement is now.”