Tuesday, October 21, 2014

What Flowers Make KB Unique?

There are a few flowers that make KB unique: gerrando gerbera daisies, stemmed gardenias and KB lisianthus to name a few.  We hear this comment all the time, “You have the best lisianthus!” 

It's not a secret that lisianthus is hard to grow.  It isn’t hard in the summer but getting a good year round crop…that is the trick.  Our grower Jimmy Zheng prides himself in growing lisianthus when others can’t.  He says it isn’t any secret, just like everything else, “hard work and experience.”

Lisianthus is one of the longest lasting, great performing flowers that consumers don’t know.  Whenever we have tours, we often hear, “It’s beautiful, what is it?”  Lilium, one of the best florists in Ft Worth shared a picture of a bridal bouquet featuring only KB lisianthus; of course we think it is gorgeous.  Next time you talk to KB, ask them about lisianthus.


Tuesday, October 14, 2014

KB Supporting Local Flower Growers

About 40% of what KB sells is not from our own production.  A lot of it comes from local growers and cutters who work hard to produce or cut beautiful and unusual flowers and greens.  California is known for the unique and fun: berries, branches, grasses, blossoms, pods, etc.  If it wasn’t for their efforts, we would live in a commodity world of boring roses, carnations, pompons, lilies and gyp. 

Our growers are by and large of Hispanic origin and usually learned their trade working for other growers.  We know how hard it is to survive and thrive as flower growers, so we invited them over for a “Thank You” BBQ and to have a discussion on how we can support them.

Local Flower Growers - picture by Tony

Our local Ag Extension agent Steve Tjosvold came to explain resources available to help these growers with growing issues.  Steve has been supporting the Monterey Bay flower growers for over 25 years and he has seen the decline in growers, and was heartened to see a good size group still growing flowers. 

Discussion at KB - picture by Tony

At KB, our goal is to increase total flower production in Northern California.  A growing supply of good quality, good value, and interesting flowers equals to - everything better for all involved.   When we ask these growers, “How can we help?”  They tell us, “Sell our flowers,”  and to do our part, we will make sure they grow good quality and we pay them fair prices.  

You can do your part by ordering flowers grown by hard working California growers. 

CA Grown - picture by Tony


Friday, October 10, 2014

Striving for Improvements

Last month, Geoff (IT Manager - GWF & KB) and I went to Dallas, TX for a user's group conference to learn more about our new computer system. It was a busy schedule. 

After a long first day of sessions, we were ready for the networking dinner event. And wow, they were so organized...here's a picture of the 5 buses waiting for us to board, then seamlessly taking hundreds of people to the venue. I was definitely impressed with their efficiency, which in turn, created an enjoyable experience for everyone. 

As I took this picture, my thoughts were, this can't be his first time. Check out the pose! 

Wrong! 6 seconds later - man down.

Try again. 
And off he went for 26 seconds, making it look so easy!

Of course, I had to try something new. Calf roping looked easy. Boy was I wrong! 
On my first try, the rope didn't make it pass the horse. Really?!

Try again.
On my second attempt, I made progress. I didn't roped the calf, but somehow... 
I managed to roped myself. 

An open mind willing to learn and try paired with patience and practice can make it look easy. But first thing first...you have to try.


Kitayama Brothers

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

KB English Classes

Here is an update on a program spearheaded by Stuart Kitayama.  This is Stuart in his own words.

“We’ve been thinking about an English class for our employees for a long time, just never sure how it would work and who would be interested.   I know from living in Mexico how difficult another language can be, and how important it is to understand what is being said.  So when Genie Dee from the Literacy Program of Santa Cruz County said she could help us, I was intrigued.  

Genie was very positive and helpful, and it took several months before anything got going.  We started in the spring with 5 students, all foremen or higher level employees.  They were motivated and wanted to try the class.  Now they attend class twice a week for 2 hours. 

The best part is seeing the student’s excitement and satisfaction with the class and their teacher Bonnie Ott.  We see their confidence grow and they are more comfortable speaking English.  It’s very obvious that the students (Juana, Artemio, Brenda, Wilbert, and Jose Luis) enjoy the class and each other’s company.”

(Sitting: Juana and Wilbert. Standing: Brenda and Jose Luis. Center: Bonnie)

What is very gratifying to read is how well they are doing; this is an email from their teacher.

Dear Stuart,
Artemio, Juana, Brenda, Jose Luis and Wilbert are all excellent students – something I have never experienced in 30 years of university teaching!  Jose Luis has come the farthest. He was at Alfredo’s level when we began, and now he is near Juana. I think I know why:  one of their fill-in-the-blank exercises included “I am always _________.”  Jose Luis put ‘thinking’.

Such a delight your folks are.

Kitayama Brothers