Tom Bowling, AIFD, PFCI, of Fairfield, Ohio, was honored for lifetime achievement in floral presentation as the recipient of the 2016 Tommy Bright Award. The Society of American Florists (SAF) Professional Floral Communicators – International (PFCI) presented the honor on Sept. 24 during SAF Maui 2016, the association’s 132nd Annual Convention in Maui, Hawaii.
The Tommy Bright Award is the highest honor presented by PFCI to its members. It is named after Ethel “Tommy” Bright, whose motto “Learn More, Teach Others” reflects PFCI values as the floral industry’s speakers bureau and the only network of professional floral business educators certified by SAF.
“Tom is recognized among his peers as the consummate professional speaker and educator, who makes every concept easy to understand,” said PFCI Chairman D Damon Samuel AAF, AIFD, NAFD, NMF, PFCI. “Tom’s colleagues consistently praise Tom’s role as an educator for both the floral community and for other floral presenters.”
About Tom Bowling, AIFD, PFCI
For more than 35 years, Tom Bowling, AIFD, PFCI, has been a floral industry leader in design and education, and a person known for giving generously of his time and expertise to lift up others and nurture new talent.
While Bowling’s celebrated career has taken him down some unexpected paths, his focus on education, beautiful product and unparalleled design has never wavered. Bowling was first introduced to the floral industry in 1979, through a part-time job. He went on to run a retail flower shop while teaching simultaneously at an elementary school for nearly a decade, a combination that brought together his passions for education and design, but ultimately proved unsustainable, even for a man with as much energy as Bowling. In the end, his deep love of flowers turned out to be the stronger calling, and he turned his full attention to the floral industry.
Over the course of the next two decades, Bowling honed and refined his skills as the owner of his successful floral retail operation before moving into the wholesale market as a design center manager for a large Midwest wholesale chain. That shift again brought out the educator in Bowling and set him on another unexpected path. Today, he wears many hats in the industry, serving as a consultant for some of the industry’s largest growers, director of education for Syndicate Sales and a member of Teleflora’s Education Specialist Team — all roles that allow him to share his deep base of knowledge broadly while helping others reach their potential. Bowling also has worked extensively with the California Cut Flower Commission since that group’s inception in 1997.
“One thing I most admire about Tom is ability to read his audience and, most important, quickly adjust his presentations to meet the needs of that particular group,” said Tim Farrell, AAF, AIFD, PFCI.
A gifted artist, Bowling has created stunning floral designs for some of the country’s highest profile gatherings, including the Tournament of Roses Parade in Pasadena, California, an event he’s been involved with since 1995 and even served as judge in 2015. He participated in the floral decorations for the inauguration of President Bill Clinton. He has twice been invited to the White House to create designs for President Barack Obama, and, for the past 15 years, he has served as the assistant floral director for the Academy Awards.
As a speaker and consultant known for his entertaining commentary and keen observations, Bowling travels the world researching floral trends in colors, textures, patterns and forms, and he teaches design programs within the U.S. and Canada. His priority always is connecting with the audience and ensuring that the information he wants to convey is both accessible and inspiring. Most importantly, he also teaches that skill of commentating to other aspiring floral speakers.
“I am amazed at his natural skill. I’m even more impressed with his ability to develop and nurture emerging talent,” commented 2003 Tommy Bright Award Recipient Marie Ackerman, AAF, AIFD, PFCI.
In addition, Bowling has dedicated himself to helping industry members improve their financial literacy and to reshaping current tools and processes. To that end, he serves on several advisory boards for floral-related products and his work and insights are featured regularly in many industry publications, including Flowers&, Flowers and Profits and the Society of American Florists’ Floral Management magazine.
A past president of the American Institute of Floral Designers, Bowling has been a featured main stage presenter twice for AIFD’s National Symposium and has designed and commentated at local, regional and national floral events around the U.S. He has been a member of Professional Floral Communicators-International since 1997.
“Tom has it all. He’s a designer and an educator and he’s able to connect the two like no one else,” shared Rich Salvaggio, AAF, AIFD, PFCI, CAFA.