The Society of American Florists will honor five professionals with induction into the American Academy of Floriculture (AAF) during the Stars of the Industry Awards Dinner on Sept. 24 at SAF Maui 2016, the association’s 132nd Annual Convention at the Ritz-Carlton Kapalua.
The 2016 AAF inductees are:
- Susan Klein, AAF, of Klein’s Floral and Greenhouses in Madison, Wisconsin
- Nikki Lemler, AAF, of Welke’s Milwaukee Florist in Milwaukee, Wisconsin
- Michael R. Pugh, AAF, of Pugh’s Flowers in Memphis, Tennessee
- Kaitlin Radebaugh, AAF, of Radebaugh Florist & Greenhouses in Towson, Maryland
- Cathy Reifschneider, AAF, of Teleflora, Inc., in Phoenix, Arizona
AAF members have earned the prestigious rank by committing their time and energy to both the floral industry and their local communities. AAF members are vetted for volunteering and leadership service to the industry and their communities, and each application must be submitted with several letters of recommendation from local community professionals and peers in the industry.
“The Academy’s stringent requirements make AAF an achievement recognized throughout the floral industry,” said SAF Awards Committee Chairman David Gaul, AAF, of DWF Wholesale Florist in Denver, Colorado.
An overview of each inductee’s accomplishments follows:
Susan Klein, AAF
Susan Klein, AAF, has worked at her family’s business, Klein’s Floral and Greenhouses in Madison, Wisconsin, all her life. Under her leadership, the business has earned many honors, including the Society of American Florists’ Century Award and top florist designations from both FTD and Teleflora. Madison magazine twice named Klein’s “best of” in garden and landscaping and, in 2013, the city of Madison recognized the company’s 100th anniversary. Klein herself has been a volunteer leader with a number of industry groups, including the Wisconsin and Upper Michigan Florist Association and the Wisconsin Florist Foundation. In Madison, Klein’s shows its commitment to the community through its involvement with many nonprofits including Hope House, Susan G. Komen and the American Heart Association, an organization that is particularly important to Klein, who lost her parents and fiancé to heart disease. Klein is a volunteer with Waunakee Neighborhood Connection and has volunteered with her church and the Waunakee Community Schools. She is a lifetime member of Olbrich Botanical Gardens and a garden sponsor for Community Groundworks. Klein gives monthly advice on floral and garden topics on “Girl Talk,” a local 30-minute TV show. She is a graduate of the University of Wisconsin-Madison and attended the American Floral Art School.
Nikki Lemler, AAF
When Nikki Lemler, AAF, was just six years old, she was already helping out around Welke’s Milwaukee Florist. Her great-great-grandfather started the business in 1901, and as a child, Lemler jumped in with plenty of enthusiasm, sweeping floors and picking up tricks of the trade early. In 2014, after working for many years in the sales department, she became the company’s vice president. Along with taking care of the daily duties of running a successful local business, Lemler specializes in weddings, event planning and corporate sales. A member of the Great Lakes Group and the Metropolitan Milwaukee Association of Commerce, Lemler has rallied other businesses for shared causes. When roads closures threatened Welke’s and neighboring businesses, for instance, she spearheaded a community awareness project that promoted all affected businesses. The effort gained the attention of the local media and area consumers. Lemler also teaches elementary schoolers about the importance of a vibrant community and the role small businesses play in civic life. She is a volunteer at the Walter Schroeder Aquatics Center; an instructor with Junior Achievement and Flowers for Kids; and a volunteer leader at her church. She also has been active with the Ronald McDonald House and is a past president of the Elm Grove Business Association. She attended Milwaukee Area Technical College.
Michael R. Pugh, AAF
Michael R. Pugh, AAF, is the chief financial officer and owner of Pugh’s Flowers in Memphis. He was 12 years old when he began working Saturdays at the shop. After his father died, when Pugh was only 24, he and his brother took over, determined to make an even more successful business part of their father’s legacy. A member of the Next Level Florist Group’s Executive Committee, Pugh has served as treasurer of of Metro Plants Co-Op. In October 2014, he hosted a joint meeting of the Great Lakes and Next Level Florist groups, an effort that helped members more easily share ideas and insights. A member of the Society of American Florists’ Retailers Council, Pugh has been a panel member twice during educational sessions at SAF’s annual conventions and has penned Viewpoint editorial columns for the association’s magazine, Floral Management. In 2005, the Shelby County mayor recognized the business for its Good Neighbor Day outreach. The shop has consistently been named a Teleflora Top 100 member since 2005. Pugh is the co-founder of the Camp Good Grief 5K, an elder at his church and a former board member of the the Shepherd’s School. He remains active in his local parent-teacher association. He earned an undergraduate degree in history from the University of Memphis and an MBA from Union University. He and his wife, Stephanie, have three children and three grandchildren.
Kaitlin Radebaugh, AAF
After graduating from the University of Delaware with a degree in business and a minor in marketing, Kaitlin Radebaugh, AAF, worked in outside sales in downtown Baltimore — resisting the pull of her family’s longtime business. In 2007, however, the desire to get back in the floral industry and to return to her roots won out. That year, she went to work for Radebaugh Florist & Greenhouses in Towson, Maryland, a business she grew up in. Since then, Radebaugh has worked in various positions within the business, from outside marketing, to sales, design, management and more. That experience has given her an even deeper understanding of how the business and the industry work. She is now a co-owner with her two cousins, creating a leadership team that represents the family’s fourth generation. Radebaugh has served on the board of the Towson Chamber of Commerce and is a board member for the Better Business Bureau Education Foundation. In 2008, she received the Cystic Fibrosis “35 Under 35” award for her dedication to the fight against the disorder. The business also earned the BBB Torch Award for marketplace ethics in 2008, as well as numerous “Best of” honors from The Knot and Wedding Wire over the years. Radebaugh is mom to three young children — and the family’s potential fifth-generation leaders: Sam, Reilly and Quinn.
Cathy Reifschneider, AAF
Cathy Reifschneider, AAF, has been in the service industry for more than 40 years. For the last 24 years, she has been with Teleflora as a territory sales manager for the Southwest. In recognition of her dedicated work, Cathy, has received many awards in the floral industry and outside of it. Those honors include the Arizona State Florists Association’s Greenleaf Award and Lifetime Honorary Member status; Teleflora’s Outstanding Service Award; and the New Mexico Roadrunner Award. Cathy’s commitment to see others succeed is evident. For years, she ran the ASFA auction, raising thousands of dollars for scholarships that help retail florists continue their floral education. Cathy also was the coordinator in 2013 of the Prescott Hotshot Memorial, which honored firefighter killed while fighting a wildfire near Yarnell, Arizona. Beyond the floral industry, Reifschneider has a deep love for her four-legged friends. She is involved with the Desert German Shorthaired Pointer Club of Phoenix holding various positions for over 10 years and is a lifetime member of Jumping Chollas, a dog agility club. Cathy is a graduate of Arizona State University and resides in Arizona with her husband, Tom Workman, in Phoenix. In their spare time, the couple enjoys competing with their champion dogs at national events.