Following a more than 30-year-tenure with the Society of American Florists — most notably as editor-in-chief of Floral Management and SAF’s online newsletters, Wednesday E-Brief and Saturday Sales Wake-Up — Kate Penn took the helm as the association’s CEO in November. Last Wednesday, June 13, she appeared in a Facebook Live video to reflect on her first eight months in her new position and to address SAF’s vision for the future.
Penn started by praising her staff, a “small but mighty team of 15,” which includes several employees whose years with SAF run into the double digits. “That’s not because of a shortage of jobs in the DC area — the job market here is notoriously healthy. It’s just that the mission of SAF — and the members we serve — well, it gets a bit addictive!” she said. “Ask anyone on our team how they feel about their job and I am pretty sure the word ‘love’ will come up in their answer. They love what they do, they love our industry and they love our members.”
That passion, she said, drives every idea implemented to help SAF members and the industry succeed.
“We have a vision for making that happen,” Penn said. “This vision guides us in everything we do.”
A major part of the SAF vision is being the first place members turn when they need easily accessible and practical guidance, tools and resources on managing and growing a profitable business. “That’s why we’re channeling our best practices guidance through more video, webinars and online content that you can enjoy from the convenience of your business,” she said.
The SAF vision also includes providing up-to-date, progressive, reliable and accessible content on floral industry trends, business practices and consumer buying patterns. “We know business success is reliant on being where the customer is,” Penn said. “That’s why SAF wants to play a role in helping you get there.”
Connecting members, be it virtually on the SAF website or on social media or in person at industry events, is also of utmost importance to the SAF vision. “We know that having access to a wide variety of products — everything from fresh flowers and greens to design supplies to technology — is what allows an industry to stay relevant to the ever-changing needs of today’s consumer,” Penn said. “Our vision to provide a variety of venues for networking in our industry.” SAF staffers are attending more regional conventions and shows than ever, and the association is bringing its 1-Day Profit Blast series to more cities around the U.S., making educational programming and networking more accessible and affordable for more members.
“We know that regulations at times get in the way of selling more flowers and plants,” Penn said. “We also know U.S. consumers should be buying way more flowers than they do today.” The SAF vision is to be the entity helping the industry through advocacy work on Capital Hill and national PR efforts to make flowers top of mind for consumers. “That’s why we’re not going to give up on making immigration reform happen,” she said. “That’s why we launched Petal It Forward, which has generated more than 620 million consumer impressions in the last three years. That’s why we’ve conducted university research on the benefits of flowers.”
Penn admitted that SAF’s vision “is ambitious,” but insisted that the association is up to the challenge. “That’s because we will do all of this first and foremost by attracting the best business minds into SAF’s volunteer leadership,” she said. “Every new product, service, effort begins with the leaders who serve on our councils and board of directors. You tell us how to best serve our industry. By working with the industry’s most progressive, forward-thinking, visionary business owners and managers, our team will have access to the kind of perspectives needed to accomplish our vision.”
Stay tuned for more Facebook Live videos by Penn and other SAF employees.