I won't be able to attend KB's Bon Voyage ~ Happy Retirement party this Friday, so I thought, why not interview Tony, and that would be my little "digital" gift.
We all have our story, I hope you'll enjoy this one. (Edited down to a shorter version)
Tony, wishing you many more exciting new chapters to come! ~ Linda
How did you get into the Flower Business?
I thought we would go back to 1974, but it actually started in 1967. While in high school, for fun, he would ride with his friend to SFO airport - picking up and dropping off boxes.
After college, the same friend called Tony up; offered him a book-keeping/office job at his family's business: Sun Bay. So from 1974 to 1996, he did it all: office work to packing to driving, eventually ending up in sales.
After Sun Bay closed, he didn't leave the flower business...he continued on with GE Moore in sales and was the sales manager off and on. Then in 2007, Kitayama Brothers and GE Moore merged and by 2009, Tony became the sales manager. And the rest is history...
Why do you love the flower business?
"In the early 70's through the mid-80's, it was exciting at Sun Bay, an innovating company - carnations and mini carnations grower. Also during that time, California Flower Growing was an exciting industry."
Today and future, where do you think it's going?
"The flower industry must always be on its toes with both eyes open. And be ready to change and adapt."
The list included new customer & sales markets, looking at (growing) different crops and among the challenges: water, labor, economy, supply chain and of course, affordable transportation.
In Retirement - tell me something crazy?
I asked Tony, so are you going to do anything crazy? Like go down your bucket list, sky-dive maybe? Sorry everyone, Tony does not have a bucket list lol, but he said he will work on one.
"Travel a little, golf a little and some photography..." Paused.
"We'll see after 6 months, I might be calling Robert up!"
KB is talking about you! SURPRISE!
This 2nd part, Tony didn't know and hopefully, it was kept a secret by our staff. Due to time and deadline, I'm sure there are more wishes that I couldn't get to. I say, the missing ones owe you a drink on Friday Tony!
(Juan - green jacket) "I've worked with Tony for a long time...19 years. Thank you Tony."
(Jimmy - sitting left) "What can I say. Tony will take on anything he is asked to do. He won't say no, always yes."
(Stuart - burgundy shirt) "Tony’s been a great asset to KB. He rides herd on the sales people and
customers, and also fixes our computers and phones, we couldn’t ask for
more. He’s been fun to work with and has
a positive outlook. I wish Tony and
Wendy the best as they start their new adventure in the retired world. And hope Tony comes by every once and a while
to fix our phones."
(Wilbert - black shirt) "It has been nice working with you."
(Kevin - far left) "It's been great working with you Tony...27 years. I sure will miss you." My reaction: What? 27 years, really? Wow you look great Kevin! "Thanks, but maybe I shouldn't have said that, now everyone will know I'm old."
(Juana - in front of Kevin) "Thank you for all your help."
(Kathy - right of Juana) "Thanks for putting up with me. Enjoy your retirement."
(Maria - right of Kathy) "Tony, hope you'll enjoy every minute of your
retirement. Best wishes!"
(Robert - sitting) "Tony was given to me as a
“farewell” present from Winston Moore when I replaced him at KB. Winston
said, “I have chosen the new sales manager, he will be good, trust me.”
Winston was right. Tony and I have had a great partnership during our 5
years together. KB has made a lot of changes in what we grow and how we
do business. Tony has been willing to take on all the crazy ideas that I
have asked him to implement. They don’t all work, but I would say that KB
is a much better company as a result of Tony’s efforts. Good luck
Tony. Come and see us, and let me know if you have any great ideas, you
never know what the future holds."
(Nicole - black & white scarf) "Thanks for the sales adventure."
(Alex - one button shirt) "Tony is truly the Iron Man of KB. Going to miss him and his "dramatic" moves. Wishing him a very fun & adventurous retirement. GO GIANTS!!!"
(Javier - far right) "Enjoy your retirement, we'll miss you."
(Dave K - not pictured) "Us (Old Timers) have brought the flower business to where it is today. You
have done so much to bring KB where it is today and did a great job setting the
company up for the future. You
will be missed."