ANAHEIM, CA — An estimated crowd of more than 1,200 packed the aisles of the Southern California Expo of the Fresh Produce & Floral Council on July 17 at the Disneyland Hotel, here. A capacity crowd of 171 exhibitors occupied all booth space on the show floor. Carissa Mace, head of the council, said that heavy advance registration and a high number of walk-ins the day of the show led to the near-record numbers.
Keynote speaker J.R. Martinez used his compelling life story to illustrate how to adapt and deal with change. A soldier who was severely wounded by a land mine in Iraq, Mr. Martinez was despairing of his injuries and appearance when his mother changed his outlook by saying: “People like you for who you are, not how you look.”
Mr. Martinez began cheering up other badly wounded soldiers in the hospital, then appeared on the popular TV drama “All My Children” for three years and last year won the “Dancing with Stars” season trophy. “I remember thinking when they invited me to be on the show that just three years and 33 surgeries earlier I was re-learning to walk,” he recounted.
Mr. Martinez was also named one of People magazine’s most intriguing people in 2011 and was grand marshal for the 2012 Tournament of Roses Parade. He received a standing ovation from the audience when he concluded by urging them to “be open to change. We all face different kinds of wars. Even in adversity, find something to take away that makes you better and stronger.”
Also at the keynote breakfast, Chris Robinson, director of sales and marketing for The Pinery in Escondido, CA, was named winner of the 2012 FPFC Floral Achievement Award. He was presented by Debbie Jackson, senior floral field buyer for SuperValu/Albertsons and the 2011 recipient. The winner is chosen by a panel of past recipients to recognize an individual who has provided outstanding service and dedication to the floral industry.
Ms. Jackson said that Mr. Robinson was known in the floral industry as a “stellar salesman” who “could even sell cars.” He got into the industry when the college courses in business that he wanted to take were full, so he took some floral classes, she recalled. He is also active in the industry and community fund-raising activities, she said. Mr. Robinson was joined onstage to accept the award by his wife, Robin, and daughter, Maggie.
Winners of the floral design contest, pitting 35 designers from seven supermarket chains in a race against the clock, were Reza Shafiei of Ralph’s among those with less than four years’ experience and Debi Kordones of Bristol Farms. The top three arrangements in each category were displayed on the stage.
Notable exhibits included a cascade of sunflowers flowing down one wall of the Kendall Farms booth, Disney characters in a Fairy Tale Flowers display by Delta Floral Distributor Inc., aged Italian pots at River Ridge Farms, quintuple-flower oriental lilies and a rose lily called New Shocking by Sun Valley Group, Farmers’ West with a bright display of dahlias and Sunshine Bouquet with hundreds of plastic frogs to denote its Rainforest Alliance certification.