Gene Redden is the Chief Marketing Executive for Mac Technologies and is in charge of Marketing and Accounts for the Arrive Alive and Transporter 10 systems.
Gene, you are employed by Mac Technologies and work closely with Wayne Castleberry to market Arrive Alive & Transporter 10. Additionally, you regularly work with the manufacturer and distributors. Give us a little bit of background on Mac Tech, Wayne, the manufacturers & distributors and tell us about your association with them.
Mac Technologies is owned & operated by Wayne Castleberry , the inventor of Arrive Alive and Transporter 10. Wayne has an extensive background in Engineering, Business & Horticulture. His articles on improving florists’ delivery departments have been published in several leading floral industry magazines including SAF’s Floral Management magazine. Wayne has also written a section for the Michigan State Florist’s Association Certification Manual titled “Delivery: All in the Details.”
Wayne’s main concern and focus is the proper care & handling of cut flowers, that is why he invented the Transporter 10 products, so that florists could safely deliver flowers to their customers in the same condition as when they left the shop. Then, several years later, Wayne invented Arrive Alive , a unique water source that keeps fresh flowers hydrated for several days. Wayne knows floriculture and horticulture; indeed, there is more to come from Wayne.
My expertise comes on the marketing and distribution side of our business. Our relationship with the manufacturer is paramount as we work together to decide new technologies for future, innovative products. Naturally, part of the equation is the cost to the consumer. We are proud of what we have currently brought to market – a line of products that is simultaneously on the cutting edge of technology and competitively priced. And that is where our distributors come in. Our initial goal was to limit levels of distribution, which ultimately brings retail price down. My favorite distributor is the wholesaler, and my personal goal is to develop and maintain a strong partnership with wholesale distributors.
Of course, you can also buy Arrive Alive and Transporter 10 direct from us or uBloom. However, it is my belief that buying from your current wholesaler strengthens a business bond that is healthy for both parties.
What IS Arrive Alive?
Arrive Alive provides a unique water source for fresh cut flowers that are designed or packaged outside of a vase, such as hand-tied bouquets and boxed roses.
Arrive Alive’s hydration system features hydrophilic foam shapes designed to absorb and retain water that, when attached to the bottom of cut flower stems, keep flowers hydrated, fresh, and long lasting. Arrive Alive reduces the stress flowers experience during shipping when temperatures reach above 40 degrees F. Each system comes complete with the absorbent foam shapes, green waterproof bags for holding in the moisture, and rubber bands to keep the foam & bag firmly in place.
After nearly four years of study by several universities, Arrive Alive has been shown to significantly improve flower performance and shelf life when used in every level of the flower care & handling “chain,” from grower to customer. The AA system can hold water for days while in shipment – both vertically and horizontally and is proven to reduce customer complaints and flower “shrinkage.” AA comes complete with NO other supplemental products to buy and is flexible, it can accommodate as little as a few stems up to several dozen, and conveniently fits over large, fleshy & hollow stems with ease.
Arrive Alive comes in 2 shapes/sizes…
Our most popular is the 10 inch Triangle – which can hydrate approximately one dozen rose stems or other stems of similar size.
The newer S Block was designed and sized to handle larger bouquets and bunches.
Describe your current strategies in marketing Arrive Alive and Transporter 10 products
Up until just recently, our major source of marketing was limited to attending industry trade shows and a few print ads. It was fairly effective and garnered us some loyal customers and AA fans. However, it was obvious that we needed a lot more exposure, so I spearheaded a national ad campaign which went viral 3 months ago.
Part of my marketing strategy is meeting with our customers and potential customers face to face. I travel extensively around the US visiting retail florists and wholesalers to talk about AA and even to film our YouTube promotional videos right in their shops! For me, the personal touch is very important. My customers need to know that they are more than just a name label on a box we ship product to…our customers are valued friends.
In addition, I am incorporating social media as part of my marketing campaign and customer relations base. I am building a twitter and Facebook presence on the web to interact with our customers and seek out new ones.
What have you found to be the biggest “issue” in marketing Arrive Alive?
One of the biggest “issues” in marketing AA is helping retail florists overcome the tendency to resist trying something new. Most florists are used to using water tubes for floral hydration, and although they strongly dislike using them, feel safe with the familiar. However, when florists DO try our product – they LOVE it and find it much easier to use than hassling with water tubes. To help florists get to know how effective our product is, we offer FREE samples of Arrive Alive! To request a sample , just visit our website.
How can Arrive Alive benefit Retail Florists and Wedding Flower Specialists?
Arrive Alive is more convenient and much less messy than water tubes & picks. One AA 10 inch Triangle or S Block can easily accommodate a large number of stems and a variety of different sized stems at one time – including large, fleshy stems like Callas.
Florists and Wedding Specialists can conveniently create wedding bouquets well ahead of time and keep their designs super fresh just by using Arrive Alive.
Florists who include an Arrive Alive water source when selling wrapped or boxed flowers to their walk-in customers, find that customer complaints drop dramatically. In fact, customers appreciate knowing that florists care enough to properly hydrate their flowers, which increases the perceived value of the product and in turn, creates repeat clientele.
Arrive Alive is easy to use and floral designers love how quickly and simply the foam shape fits over bouquet stems. Requiring only one hand to apply, designers can almost instantly fasten the Arrive Alive water source to a design to insure the freshness & longevity of their product as it leaves the store with a customer.
Florists can even use ribbon, tissue paper, or other adornment over top of the AA system with confidence. The special polyethelene bags seal the moisture in so designers can do what they do best…create beautiful floral arrangements.
To read more about the benefits of proper hydration and the effectiveness of Arrive Alive, check out our FAQ webpage.
The relationships you develop with floral wholesalers is a very important aspect of your job. Give us some details about your efforts to encourage the wholesaler/retailer relationship.
We love floral wholesalers and our mission is to get Arrive Alive on the shelves of most (if not all) wholesalers in the country. We know that AA and Transporter 10 are GREAT products that will SELL! Which of course, is good news for wholesalers!
In an effort to help establish a closer working relationship between florists and their wholesalers, we have designed flyers featuring Arrive Alive & Transporter 10 products that wholesale drivers can show florists when making deliveries. These flyers will be available to wholesalers for FREE on our website in downloadable PDF form – which can simply be printed and handed out. When florists know that their wholesalers are offering the AA product, they are much more likely to order it. In fact, in my conversations with retail florists who use AA, I have found that although they can order product directly from us, they would much rather order it from their local wholesaler and have it delivered on the truck. This situation is much more convenient for retailers. So, in response to our findings, we have initiated a process where retailers can let us know which local wholesalers they regularly buy from (but don’t currently carry AA) and I will personally call that wholesaler to let them know about the retailers who desire to order AA directly from them.
Can Wholesalers and Growers use Arrive Alive?
YES! Flowers greatly benefit from staying hydrated throughout the shipping/handling process – from the grower all the way to the customer. When growers and wholesalers use AA, flowers stay fresher and last longer…which means happy florists and satisfied customers.
Flowers can be shipped successfully using AA – with NO additional amendments to traditional packaging/boxes. We are even working on new technologies that would allow you to ship UPSIDE DOWN and not lose water. Cool stuff in the pipeline.
We sell 600ct boxes of each shape (S Block & 10 inch Triangle) for volume users like growers and wholesalers.
One of our goals is to get AA into the hands of more growers for improved flower performance and added value that gets NOTICED by retailers and customers.
What is Transporter 10 and how is it used?
The Transporter 10 is an all-in-one foam delivery system that securely holds arrangements during delivery and absorbs the shock of the bumps and rattles of the road. Transporter 10 helps to keep your beautiful floral designs looking gorgeous by preventing spills, broken stems, and smashed flowers that can occur during delivery. It comes in a variety of styles to choose from – so there is a size to fit every need.
Our 16 hole system holds small vases, our 8 hole system holds a variety of medium vases, our 6 hole system holds medium sized vases, and our 5 hole system holds large vases and is a favorite of florists and funeral homes. Funeral home directors love our product so much that they call us personally to order our 5 hole Transporter 10 system.
Each Transporter 10 is engineered with graduated openings to hold an assortment of vases, is designed to fit all types of vehicles, resists mold and mildew (air dry once a week), has a non-skid bottom, and has handles embedded in the bottom for easy carrying.
To read more about our Transporter 10 delivery system, check out our FAQ webpage.
Where can florists purchase Arrive Alive & Transporter 10 products?
Since we highly value the wholesaler/retailer relationship, we encourage floral retailers and wedding specialists to contact their favorite wholesaler to purchase our products. However, we know that not every wholesaler carries AA yet, so retailers can order directly from us via our website, and from uBloom’s Shop.
We suggest that wholesalers and growers who are interested in ordering our product to visit our website for wholesale purchasing.
What is your favorite and least favorite aspects of your job?
My favorite aspect of the job is each, new, satisfied client. My least favorite thing is, not surprisingly, lack of sales.
Ok, last question, How do you stay motivated and keep things “fresh” on your job?
I always make sure others around me are motivated. When they are motivated, I stay motivated. I like to bring lots of positive energy to the office, and it pays off. The human element is a top priority – I choose to make a positive impact on people’s lives.