We first spotted Russ Phillip on the television show The Arrangement, which was a competition-based reality show for florists last year. A few months later, we had the pleasure of getting to know Russ as we traveled to “The Special Event” in Phoenix, Arizona last January. We had the best time getting to know Russ and we know that you will too. Here is a bit about Russ and how he got started in the wholesale flower business and how Russ Wholesale Flowers was born.
RussWholesaleFlowers.com is the brainchild of flower expert, Russ Phillip, Jr. He had a dream of bringing flowers to the masses by using the power of the Internet.
Russ was most recently head of operations for the multi-million dollar commercial divisions at All American Phillip’s Flowers, Inc. (Phillip’s Flowers) and sat on the Board of Directors for All American Phillip’s Flowers, Inc. Founded in 1923, Phillip’s Flowers is a well-established retail floral company in the Chicago area.
As a third generation florist, Russ started in the floral business as a young boy and in 1986, began his full time career at Phillip’s Flowers. His career and training work took him internationally, where he experienced months of floral industry training with some of the best in the industry. (Bachman’s in MN, Pittsburg Cut in PA, Holland Flower Market in Europe, and the American Institute of Floral Design, to name a few).
Russ’ floral training is unique because he had extensive training and management responsibilities in all phases of the business.. Russ has an extensive retail background, all occasional floral design, commercial floral design, wedding floral design, wholesaling, importing, international ordering, telecommunication operations, dispatch operations, commercial interior landscape design, commercial holiday display design, and sales management.
So we interviewed this handsome guy for our blog and here is what he had to say:
Rayce: What is your favorite part of your job?
Russ: Results. As one of the new kids on the block we have grown leaps and bounds in such a short period of time. My team and I have built Russ On Flowers to an international level. We are very proud of our accomplishments.
Rayce: What opportunities have come your way as a result of your wholesale flower business?
Russ: Exposure everywhere. Online videos, TV shows, Radio interview, magazine interviews, Web interviews, to name a few ways our exposure has expanded due to our site.
An easier way of doing business. We are online. I come from a family owned flower business and have pleaded with them over the years to build our online presence and brand our company better. Well, needless to say they pulled back on branding and web exposure, I didn’t. People are living on the web and it has offered us a better way to assist the consumers. Opening other companies is another ongoing opportunity as well as building relationships all over the world with growers, vendors etc.
Rayce: How did you come to start your non-profit and is it a success?
Russ: As I was creating another one of my companies, I got inspired by the idea of assisting Gold Star Mothers. I love the thought. Don’t ask me how or why; it was one of those moments where it just came to me. As I began to brainstorm, I thought how can I make a difference for these parents using flowers and at the same time recognize the men and women that gave the ultimate sacrifice and left a gold star behind.
The concept was created. I wrote the business plan and later one of my team members came up with the name Flowers for Heroes.
I had been introduced to General Grange in the past and thought if this has any merit whatsoever, I have to get a read on it from him. So, I introduced my idea to General David Grange in 2009. He was very intrigued with the whole concept and wanted to see it blow up. He mentioned he would assist. We began working together and building the NFP. We traveled throughout the East Coast soliciting cemeteries and people to assist with our endeavors.
General Grange was the CEO of the McCormick Foundation. The McCormick foundation was run by the board of directors for the Chicago Tribune. Each NFP that McCormick endorses has to be voted on by the board. After six months of working with General Grange and traveling, the board shot down Flowers for Heroes. General Grange had to stop working with us and stepped down from the CEO Chair of McCormick foundation.
I was disappointed, but not willing to give up. Since then we have been recognized by the Pentagon, had numerous interviews (TV and Radio) and we have placed over 30,000 flowers on headstones in a number of national cemeteries and raised money for our Gold Star Mothers along the way. I am proud of our accomplishments and have been blessed with being able to continue to make a difference.
Rayce: What do you hope to accomplish in your career in the next 5 years?
Russ: Expansion on all levels, getting back in front of the camera (full time), and accomplish my life goal: Open two more companies and spend the rest of my time working for my NFP’s “making a difference that the public can get excited about, and encouraging them to allow me assist them open their own”.