It’s no secret to everyone at DV…
that Marc Robinson, our Transflora-California Branch Manager, is an enormous wealth of knowledge. It even goes well beyond flowers and flower growing (his 33 years in the industry has helped with that). I have had the pleasure of spending a lot of time with Marc over the past 5 years and each time I walk away feeling as though I was listening to an audio version of the Encyclopedia Britannica. Other times I think he’s some kind of “International Man of Mystery,” considering all of the places he’s lived.
Some of our readers also know Marc well after winning the trip to California as part of our Summer Celebration Program. His friendly character and outgoing personality make it easy for everyone to connection with him. To the point where most still communicate with Marc on a regular basis!
So we thought it would be a great opportunity to let Marc share his story with you (or at least a small portion of it). We invite you to sit back and read along as we chat with Marc about all things from California flowers to motorcycles to raising chickens.
Hope you enjoy,
How long have you worked in the flower industry?
If you have to know, 33 years! Started right out of college thinking it was going to be a jumping-off point to an advertising career. I always say ‘the flower business is like Hotel California, you can check in but you can never leave!’ At least I am in California now!
How long have you been with DVFlora?
I have been fortunate enough to be a part of the DVFlora team for the last 5 years. My floral industry career did not start in California though. When I first started out in the business I was in Miami, selling flowers to wholesalers all over the US and Canada. Eventually I focused more on Dutch flowers. As the industry opened up more channels, my customer base expanded to include mass market accounts as well. Over the years sales has always been the driving force but operations and business development played an important role. One of my industry ‘bucket list’ desires was to work for, or close with, a domestic grower. After visiting farms in the Northeast and Midwest in the 80’s and seeing their operations it planted that seed. Ten years ago there was an opportunity to move to California to work for a grower in Carpinteria in business development. After some serious contemplation we moved to California. It was the best thing we could have done!
Tell us a little about some of your job responsibilities?
I am part of the great Transflora team here; Maria, Monica and Jose. As a farm liaison for DVFlora my responsibilities include farm visits, product development, program offers, pricing coordination and logistics from California. We also focus on sourcing flowers and coordinating logistics for our customers to fulfill nationwide needs. Our location has the capability to ship throughout the US via trucking, airline or a multitude of overnight services.
The California Association of Flower Growers & Shippers members elected me to their board 4 years ago. It has been an excellent group to be a part of allowing me to get a better look at the California flower business.
I know your team of Monica, Maria, and Jose have worked in the industry quite a while as well. Can you tell us a little bit more about them?
This group is the hardest working and one of the closest teams I have been a part of. Their experience with growers and attention to detail is outstanding. Our growers will do anything to be sure orders are filled accurately, with best quality and in a timely fashion. Maria, one of our buyers, lives in Ventura and is the mother of three and has two wonderful grandchildren. Monica, our other buyer, moved to be closer to her family in Utah after living in California most of her life. She has three children as well. Last but not least, Jose, our Quality Inspector, has lived in Oxnard most of his life and has been around flowers that entire time. He has two young children. We are truly a family!
So how often do you travel to the farms?
Visiting the farms, or ‘boots on the ground’ as Bob Wilkins (2nd generation DV Owner) would say is a big part of what I do. Farm visits are done on a weekly basis but not ‘all’ farms every week. Our (DVFlora) scope of farm regions is from Northern California (Arcata) all the way to San Diego county near the Mexican border. That encompasses almost 800 miles of the state. We break up our visits to regions. So the goal is to get to North Central (Watsonville/ Salinas) every 6 weeks. Central (Nipomo/ Santa Maria/ Lompoc) every 4 weeks. South central (Carpinteria, Oxnard, Santa Paula and Camarillo) every week. The Southern California Region (San Diego) every 6 weeks during the summer but more during winter, which is their heaviest shipping period. The reason for these farms visits is twofold; first we want to stay ahead of the market information and see what the farms are growing, innovations they’re implementing, and check out new flowers and second, it gives us an opportunity to evaluate flower quality at the farms.
What camera do you like to use to take your photos and what do you like best about shooting flowers?
Photography has always been one of my passions. I would love to say that I use my Nikon D5600 to take every flower picture but it is only a small percentage of the pictures that are taken at the farms. The ease and advancements of smart phones has made that my ‘go to’ camera for flower pictures! There is nothing quite like shooting pictures of flowers with vibrant colors and in vast areas of production. Most importantly they have such a powerful effect on people, a flower picture can move just about anyone!
”There is nothing quite like shooting pictures of flowers, vibrant colors, vast areas of production. Most importantly they have such a powerful effect on people, a flower picture can move just about anyone!
What was the last farm you visited and what did you enjoy most about it?
While visiting Camflor in the Northern Watsonville area recently, I was reflecting that although I’ve been in the industry more than 30 years, just being around 100’s of acres of flowers still gets me excited. I can’t wait to get back and share all the ‘new’ information with the team. I am sure more than one DV Product Manager has had to tolerate my emails and multitude of pictures!
As one of the hosts for our Summer Celebration California Trip, why do you think it’s important for retailers to win the trip to visit farms?
Every March we are fortunate enough to share the California flower farm experience with a group of DVFlora customers and colleagues…Summer Celebration is a highlight of my year! Over the past five years I have been co-hosting the farm visits. Spending three days with the different groups has been amazing. They always come engaged, full of questions and eager to get out to the farms and see flowers! These trips have forged relationships between retailers from all over the country, as well as with us here in California. It is always invigorating to spend time with people who are as excited about our industry as we are. It gives us an opportunity to explain the differences between flowers grown in a multitude of micro-climates. Why the roses in California are not the same as in equatorial countries like Colombia and Ecuador. When our customers get the chance to see how the farms operate and what their challenges are, it gives them a full appreciation of what it takes to grow flowers. They walk away understanding the process but more importantly are able to communicate that to their teams back home.
Of all the crops you’ve seen growing in the open fields of California, what’s your favorite?
Field flowers are always the most impactful. Stock might be one of my favorites because the colors are intense and the fragrance is amazing. Although anytime I see a field of flowers I am blown away!
I know that family is important to you. Tell us about your family and some of the things you like to do together.
My wife Sharon and I met in college and have been together for 37 years (32 married)! We have three amazing children (adults now); Brandon 30, Andrew 27 and Katelyn 22. Brandon has been in the US Coast Guard for 10 years and is married. Andrew is finishing a degree in music and education at Cal State Northridge and Katelyn (Katie) is pursuing her undergrad in early childhood development. Sharon has been in nursing her entire career, first in labor and delivery and now diabetes specialties. Music is the ‘glue’ that binds our family. All the kids and Sharon play an array of instruments. There is rarely a time in our home when there is silence. Whether it’s the piano, guitar or Andrew’s jazz band there is always music! We also ride motorcycles together through the scenic highways out here. Sharon, Brandon and Katie have their motorcycle licenses. Our favorite family ‘old school’ movie is ‘So I Married An Axe Murderer’…always makes us laugh!
And I hear you’re planning a wedding? Congratulations!
Andrew will be getting married to his fiancée Shelbi in a couple of weeks! They wanted the wedding to be at our house. So needless to say the past several months have been busy preparing for 90 guests! We are excited and touched that they wanted to have their special day take place in our home (pictures to follow!).
What are some of your hobbies?
When all the wedding ‘stuff’ is done and we get back to reality my hobbies will resume. Motorcycles are my first hobby of choice. Not just riding them, which is the best part, but also all the maintenance and the search for more! I do have to say hockey season is my favorite sports time of the year! Finally, when we moved out here the house we bought had some extra land….enough for a few chickens we thought. What started with only a couple has turned into 8 hens! We raise them for the eggs…they all have names! They are free to roam the entire yard every day (except wedding day!) Although they do get into the garden a bit too much…we love our chicken circus!
Seriously, you raise chickens?!? What came first, the chicken or the egg?
Sometimes they raise us!!! The egg…lol!
What’s currently on your playlist…or is it vinyl?
Too many to mention but this week if it’s Spotify then anything from Jason Mraz to Nick Drake…vinyl Zeppelin and Hendrix all day.
Pick one: Miami or Central California? Harley or Honda?
Harley, support ‘em, can’t afford ‘em…I am a Honda guy from way back! Honda was my first bike, current bike and will likely be my last bike. In the end anything on two wheels is good in my book! Central Cali, hands down!
The Long Way Around – British TV series
On The Road – Jack Kerouac
What makes you happiest?
Spending time with my wife and kids!