At the 2018 edition of the International Floriculture Expo (IFE), held the last week in June in Chicago, more than 225 vendors showcased new products and services to the nearly 1,500 floral professionals in attendance. Many of the exhibitors and buyers were first-time attendees, keeping the show fresh and interesting and adding a new dimension and excitement to the numerous and varied social networking and educational opportunities.

After four years in Chicago, IFE will relocate next year to Miami for a three-day run, June 18-20. With Florida being a hub for many suppliers, the relocation should bring significant savings and greater ease to exhibitors and will enable IFE to host even more buyers and put additional investments into the show. Make plans now to attend the improved-format event now; register and get continuously updated information at the photo highlights from this year’s expo on the following pages.

IFE Education Day, sponsored by Super Floral magazine, was held the day before the trade show opened and featured six sessions on topics including product merchandising, technology advances, employee hiring and inspiring, “The American Floral Trend Forecast” and much more. The Education Day keynote speaker, Ken Schmidt, gave a rousing presentation on how to create a fantastically loyal customer base. The former director of communications at Harley-Davidson shared his ideas, experiences, enthusiasm and business acumen with luncheon attendees.
Bradley Gaines, United Supermarkets (center), was recognized for his more than 20 years of service to the industry during IFE’s annual “Flower Naming Ceremony,” with a new variety of sunflower developed by Ball SB, now officially known as Helianthus annuus ‘Bradley’.

At the 2018 “Iron Designer Competition” (photo 2), eight floral designers participated in an exciting contest with fresh cut floral and accessories (revealed moments before the competition started) and just 20 minutes to create designs that were judged by a panel of experts on the spot. Adam Havrilla, AIFD, PFCI, of Artistic Blooms in Chicago (photo 4), was chosen as the 2018 champion (his second win!). Jose Morales, designer at Continental Flowers in Miami, received the Crowd Choice Award for his beautiful design.

At the 2018 “Merchandising Award of Excellence” presentation, sponsored by Super Floral magazine and Syndicate Sales, Michelle Beeson and Cindy Fitzgerald (photo 3, left and center, respectively) from Hy-Vee in Omaha, Neb., took home the top prize for their Valentine’s Day display entitled “Our Love Is Written in the Stars.” The presentation was made by Melanie Spilbeler, director of marketing for Syndicate Sales (photo 3, right). Two finalists also were recognized: Krystal Austin, from Safeway in Discovery Bay, Calif., for her Valentine’s Day display “Love Is in the Air,” and Prea Jones, from Stater Bros. Markets in Wildomar, Calif., for her Valentine’s Day entry, “The Strength of Love.”

Hundreds of new products were showcased at IFE, but only five were selected to participate in the annual “Innovation Battlefield” competition. Syndicate Sales won with its Viizzii Vase, which features an LED digital display for scrolling personalized messages that can be programmed for any occasion.