Florist Kenneth Royer, AAF, was an industry pioneer.
As a second-generation owner of Royer’s Flowers & Gifts, in Lebanon, Pa., Royer was the first florist in the country to implement computerized systems for his multi-shop operations, and one of the first to import directly from South American growers. His business strategies were so successful that in 1998 he published the book, “Retailing Flowers Profitably,” and held dozens of seminars on topics from marketing to management and post-harvest care. He also served with several industry organizations, including on the boards of the Society of American Florists and the American Floral Endowment.
It was those accomplishments, as well as the respect he commands within the industry, that earned him a place in the Floriculture Hall of Fame, the industry’s greatest honor.
Greg Royer, Royer’s son and chairman of the board at Royer’s Flowers & Gifts, accepted the award at SAF’s award ceremony on Thursday in Orlando on behalf of his father, who at 90 years old couldn’t attend the event.
When Royer learned he was being inducted into the Hall of Fame “he was speechless,” his son told the audience. “The highlight of his year was coming to meetings like this. He still has a passion for the industry.”
The award ceremony also honored others who have made an indelible mark on the industry.
The Paul Ecke Jr. Award, which recognizes exemplary devotion to profession, industry, and community, was given to Robert “Bob” Williams II, AAF, PFCI, former vice president of North American operations at Smithers-Oasis. In just 23 years in the floral industry Williams dedicated countless volunteer hours to help the organizations he served, including SAF and WF&FSA, develop programs and strategic plans. He also lectured at Kent State University and served his community as a deacon, a Sunday school teacher and volunteered with an addiction recovery ministry. Williams retired in 2016, but continued consulting in the industry until 2020, when he was diagnosed with ALS. The disease progressed quickly and by late summer Williams was unable to travel. He was presented with the award in August at an event in Kent, Ohio, which was attended by family and industry friends. A video of the event was shown at the awards ceremony. Williams passed away Monday.
“All I ever wanted to do was to go wherever God sent me and use those talents that he gave me to bring some value to the service of others,” Williams told the group at the recorded event. “Thank you so much. But above all, for being my friend, thank you for walking my way, for allowing me to contribute to your lives in some small way.”
Click here to read more about Williams and the Paul Ecke Jr. Award.
Scott Trees, Ph.D., a breeder of ornamental plants, received the Gold Medal Award, which honors the originator of an outstanding product of significant horticultural and commercial value. Trees, who retired in June from a 40-year career in the industry, has 309 patents for plants and seeds. Among them are verbena, impatiens, salvia, snapdragons, cestrum, scabiosa, phlox and more than 100 geraniums.
In his remarks, Trees thanked his long-time employer, Ball Horticulture Company, for believing in him and his colleagues for executing his ideas. Although he is retired, he has a large greenhouse at his California home and said he will continue working on his own.
“I’m not going to give up flower breeding,” Trees said. “It’s in my blood.”
Click here to read more about Trees and the Gold Medal Award.
The Alex Laurie Award for Research and Education, which honors someone who has contributed significantly to the advancement of horticulture studies, was awarded to James Faust, Ph.D. Faust, a professor of physiology at Clemson University, is known for his work with poinsettias. His first job out of college was at a commercial greenhouse that grew 12 acres of poinsettias. The experience sparked a passion that was the focus of his 30-year career. In that time he has studied the plants in their native home in Mexico, as well as the Paul Ecke Ranch in Encinitas, California, which at the time was the largest producer of poinsettias. He is also co-author of a new book, “Cut Flowers and Foliages.”
Click here to read more about Faust and the Alex Laurie Award.
The Tommy Bright Award, which honors PFCI members for a lifetime achievement in floral presentation, was given to Kevin Ylvisaker, AIFD, CFD, PFCI and posthumously to David Shover, AAF, AIFD, PFCI.
Ylvisaker, a top designer in the country, has worked on several high-profile events including the inaugurations of George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton. His designs have also been published several times in industry and consumer magazines, and lectures around the world. He also serves in the industry, notably as a past president of AIFD.
Shover, who passed away in 2020, was honored for his work designing for presidential inaugurations, Lord and Taylor design shows and Bloomingdale’s Bridal Fair. His accolades include the Capital Cup and the Middle Atlantic Floral Association’s silk design contest. In 2012, he represented the United States at the Putrajaya Flower and Garden Show in Malaysia, where he held classes for local floriculture students. He also served as chairman of the PFCI board of trustees and was slated to become the president of AIFD.
Know someone who has made a noteworthy contribution to the floral industry? Apply or nominate someone for SAF’s 2022 awards.
Amanda Jedlinsky is managing editor of SAF Now.