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AFE Appoints New Trustees & Officers

The American Floral Endowment (AFE) depends on industry leadership, insights, and expertise to support research and programs that best serve all of floriculture. This September, AFE appointed three new Trustees to join the diverse group with representation across segments. AFE Trustees are industry leaders who volunteer their time and talent to help guide Endowment activities and programs benefitting the industry.

Each new Trustee will serve a three-year term with the option of a second three-year term. They will also serve on an AFE committee related to education, public relations and development, research, or floral marketing. The Endowment is pleased to announce:

 

Incoming Trustees

Kelvin Frye, Syndicate Sales

Frye is an industry veteran. He joined Syndicate in 1987 and has held positions in logistics, transportation, marketing, and sales. Syndicate Sales is a leading manufacturer and supplier of floral hardgoods for retail florists. Frye is currently the Director of Sales based in Kokomo, IN. He has expertise in sales management, distribution, freight management, and import operations. He also currently serves on the Floral Council and Tradeshow Committee for the International Floral & Produce Association as well as on the Education Committee for WF&FSA.

When he is not collaborating with his team members at Syndicate, he is also an adjunct professor at Ball State University. Frye received his bachelor’s from Ball State University, and a master’s in business administration from Butler University.

Vijay Rapaka, Smithers-Oasis

Rapaka joined Smithers-Oasis in 2008 as Corporate Grower Research Manager and has been in the floral industry for 20 years. Currently, he is their Director of Global Grower Operations and Research based in Kent, Ohio. Since 1954, Smithers-Oasis has grown into a leading global manufacturer and marketer of floral foam, floral design tools and accessories, cellular growing media, postharvest products, temperature-controlled packaging and specialized foams.

Rapaka received his Ph.D. in Ornamental Horticulture from the University of Hanover. His expertise includes research and innovation.

Adam Van Winkle, Stadium Flowers

Van Winkle is a third-generation owner and President of Stadium Flowers and Cascade Floral Wholesale. He is based in Everett, WA. Stadium Flowers was founded by Adam’s grandparents in 1947 with a single location. Today, the business currently sells flower out of three separate locations and employs 70+ people.

Van Winkle has been working in the family business since 2006, with operational experience in every aspect of their retail and wholesale floral business. He has a passion for business innovation and is always looking for ways to improve.

New Officers

David GarciaAFE also announced David Garcia, President of Pete Garcia Company/Garcia Group based in Peachtree Corners, GA, has been named Chairman-Elect. He will serve one year in this role before his Chairmanship begins in September 2024. He has been serving on the board since 2015, is a member of the Executive Committee, and serves on the Floral Marketing Fund Committee, and Chair of the Public Relations/Development Committee.

Garcia began his career at the company in 1983 after graduating from the University of Georgia. He served as Zone Manager for 17 states in the U.S., as well as international territories. He also assists in new product development for Plus One Imports, which is part of the Garcia Group, Inc. The Garcia family established a scholarship fund, the Garcia Family Scholarship Fund, through AFE in 2020 which supports students with a career focus on the marketing or distribution of floral products, including retail, wholesale, manufacturing and/or floral business ownership/operations.

Bill Foster, CEO of BioWorks based in Victor, NY, will also be joining the Executive Committee with his new appointment as Treasurer/Secretary-Elect. He joined the Board in 2018. Bill currently serves on the Research Committee and as Chair of the committee.

Foster is a founding member of the Biological Products Industry Alliance. He also served on the Scientific Advisory Board at the Vineland Research and Innovation Center. Foster created a scholarship, BioWorks IPM/Sustainable Practices Scholarship, through AFE in 2015, which supports sophomore, junior, or senior students pursuing a career in floriculture. BioWorks is a member of Biobest Group.

Outgoing Trustees

Completing their terms on the AFE Board are Cindy Hanauer, CEO of Grand Central Floral in Jacksonville, Florida and Tim Galea, President of Norton’s Flowers & Gifts in Ypsilanti, MI.

Cindy Hanauer originally joined the board in 2014 and served two full terms before continuing on as an Emeritus Member from 2020-2023. Her time on the Board focused primarily on the Public Relations/Development and Floral Marketing Fund committees. Hanauer has continuously shared her expertise in communications and marketing with both with AFE directly and the industry as a whole through collaborative projects and articles.

Tim Galea joined the board in 2020 and served a full term. He brought in a retailer perspective and shared his knowledge with over 50 years in the industry. Galea’s expertise is in financial management, floral design, and leadership. During his time on the Board, he served on the Public Relations/Development and Floral Marketing Fund committees. Galea has also served on the Society of American Florists’ Board of Directors, and as Treasurer and Region Director of the Michigan Floral Association.

Both have provided their leadership and expertise to AFE’s programs and resources and have helped advance AFE’s mission. AFE extends a HUGE thank you to both Cindy and Tim for their time and commitment to help pave the future for the Endowment’s activities.

AFE Trustees dedicate their time, expertise, and resources to advancing our industry through AFE. The Endowment appreciates and values their investment in our industry.


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