Royer’s Flowers & Gifts has donated $11,400 to six organizations in support of women’s causes.
Family-owned Royer’s earmarks $10 from every sale of its Admiration arrangement for these donations.
This year’s recipients and the amount of their awards: Pennsylvania Breast Cancer Coalition, $2,500; YWCA York, $2,500; Water Street Mission, Lancaster, $2,500;
Women in Need Inc., Chambersburg, $1,500; Girls Who Code Central PA, $1,350; Girls Who Code Berks County, $1,050.
“This year, Royer’s is celebrating the 85th anniversary of our founding by my grandmother Hannah Royer,” said Tom Royer, president and CEO of Royer’s Flowers. “Mom Royer, as she was known, is our daily inspiration and a symbol of the importance and value of empowering girls and women.
“Our loyal customers make these contributions possible, for which we are grateful. Congratulations to this year’s recipients for the meaningful work they do.”
Royer’s Flowers & Gifts will show its appreciation to military veterans by giving them free patriotic bouquets on Nov. 11.
The bouquets – featuring a red carnation, a white carnation and a blue bow – will be available in-store only at each of Royer’s 16 locations in Berks, Cumberland, Dauphin, Franklin, Lancaster, Lebanon and York counties.
“We’re grateful for the dedication and sacrifice of the men and women who have served in the U.S. armed forces,” said Tom Royer, president and CEO of family-owned Royer’s. “It’s our honor to recognize veterans in this way.”
Non-veterans may purchase the bouquets for $2.20 each.
Royer’s Flowers & Gifts will collect holiday cards and coloring pages for service members and veterans throughout November as the company continues its decade-long affiliation with the American Red Cross “Holidays for Heroes” program.
Items may be dropped off at any Royer’s store during normal business hours. Free coloring pages can be downloaded at royers.com.
The Red Cross offers these guidelines for preparing cards:
Use generic salutations: “Dear Service Member” or “Dear Veteran”
Be thoughtful with messages, expressing reasons why you are thankful for the service members/veterans; if you have a personal connection, such as a family member who served, consider adding that
Try not to be overtly religious, but messages such as “Merry Christmas” or “God Bless You” are acceptable
Do not include inserts such as glitter, photos, business cards
Do not include personal information such as telephone number, address or email
Profitability, efficiency, marketing, each would get its say in the 500 pages to come.
But Ken Royer was unequivocal from the opening sentence of his book, “Retailing Flowers Profitably,” as to its true focus.
“This is a story of a family business,” he wrote.
Ken, whose parents, Hannah and Lester, started Royer’s Flowers when it was called South Side Flower Shop, noted that his first experience with growing plants came soon after the family’s 1937 move from downtown Lebanon to what was then the edge of town. He was 6. His sister was two years older; his brother, six years younger.
“The move to the new home provided almost an acre of land that we could use for gardening; thus my involvement with plants and flowers,” Ken wrote.
As Royer’s marks 85 years in business in 2022, the company remains a family business. What’s more, it has achieved the remarkably rare feat of reaching a fourth generation of family involvement.
How rare? The average life span of a family-owned business is 24 years, according to the SC Johnson College of Business at Cornell University. Just getting to a second generation of family involvement is a significant achievement, as only 40 percent of businesses achieve that.
Then things get really tough. A third generation: only 13 percent of family-owned businesses get there, and only 3 percent of businesses reach a fourth generation or beyond.
Except for a three-year period (1998 to 2001) when Royer’s was part of the Gerald Stevens national chain, the Royer family has owned the company. Even during the Gerald Stevens era, Ken and son Greg were involved at the corporate level while son Tom oversaw Royer’s operations.
The silver lining – or Christmas present, given the time of year — to Gerald Stevens’ demise was the subject of a cover story in the Dec. 12, 2001 Lebanon Daily News. The headline heralded, “Royers buy back flower shops.” (The deal also included the opportunity to enter Ohio with Connells Maple Lee.)
Greg, Tom and brother Mike appeared in a photo surrounded by poinsettias at the Lebanon store.
“We’re obviously thrilled to have it back,” Greg Royer said at the time. “There’s a picture of growth in the future.” Growth for the business, but also opportunity for more family members to arrive on the scene and help lead the company into the 21st century.
Greg’s sons Andrew and Geoff are active in day-to-day management; their brother Gregory was a store manager. Tom’s oldest daughter, Layla, worked for the company when she was in high school and college while his youngest children, Tommy, Sumer and Brooke, help out on weekends, holidays and summers.
That story about a family business that Ken described has more chapters to come.
This is part of a series of occasional blog posts about important events in Royer’s history as the company marks its 85th anniversary in 2022. In fall 2021, Royer’s Flowers & Gifts donated $7,250 to six women’s charities in central and eastern Pennsylvania. “My grandmother Hannah Royer started our company,” said Tom Royer, president and CEO of Royer’s. “Our family has a keen appreciation for the vital role that women play in our families and communities and for the importance of encouraging female empowerment.” But Royer’s charitable giving has boosted many causes through the years, also supporting families and animals, honoring veterans and active-duty military, boosting child literacy and fighting hunger. Here’s a closer look at some of those efforts in just the past two decades:
It began with an arrangement called Power of Pink, now known as Admiration and available year-round. For each arrangement sold, Royer’s donates $10 to women’s charities, including organizations such as the Pennsylvania Breast Cancer Coalition, YWCA, Dress for Success, Junior League and Girls Who Code. To date, total contributions surpass $25,000.
Bouquets for Books
After introducing the Royer’s Kid Club, Royer’s launched an annual children’s book drive to benefit public libraries in its market area. Donors received a free bouquet for the books they contributed. In its 13-year run, Bouquets for Books collected nearly 19,000 books.
Royer’s Stems Hunger
This food drive collected more than 1,100 pounds in each of its 10 years (2011-2020), for a total of nearly nine tons for the Central Pennsylvania Food Bank and local food banks in the Royer’s market area. Stems Hunger took place during the summer, which is a particularly vulnerable time for childhood hunger because school food programs are not available.
Puppy in a Basket/Kitten in a Basket
One of Royer’s newest charitable efforts centers on the year-round sale of two arrangements featuring a plush dog or cat. A portion of the proceeds benefits area animal shelters. To kick off the program in 2021, Royer’s sent $100 checks to 10 area animal organizations.
Each year, Royer’s honors U.S. military veterans by giving them free red, white and blue bouquets at each of its stores. “This is one of our favorite annual traditions,” Tom said in 2021. “These men and women, along with their families, make great sacrifices while serving our country. It’s our privilege to honor our veterans.”
Holidays for Heroes
Since 2013, Royer’s stores have collected tens of thousands of holiday cards and coloring pages for service members and veterans as part of the American Red Cross’ “Holidays for Heroes” program.
‘OUR PRIVILEGE TO GIVE BACK’
Like many businesses, Royer’s faced significant operating challenges at the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic in early 2020. As Tom noted in a guest column for Pennlive, “We had a lot of family history and family future tied up in how we responded to COVID-19.” But not only didn’t the pandemic cripple Royer’s, it has made it a more efficient and successful company than ever. That success contributed to some of Royer’s biggest charitable awards ever, including $15,000 to the Central Pennsylvania Food Bank in April 2021. “We had to reinvent our company, and at times it was a painful process,” Tom said, alluding to the pandemic, “but our strong team’s dedication and hard work enabled us to come through this as a better company. “It is our privilege to give back to our communities and help families that are struggling to put food on the table.”
When she first learned how to use email through her local library, Karen Good said, she was told to select three words for her address that represented things she liked.
One of them was “rose,” which reflects her affinity for flowers.
Good, of Mount Joy, Lancaster County, now has good reason to be fond of carnations and daisy poms, too.
She won this year’s Royer’s Flowers & Gifts name-the-arrangement contest. Her entry, “Harvest Beauty,” was chosen from nearly 900 online submissions.
The all-around arrangement features a ceramic pumpkin, measures 12 inches high and 10 inches wide, and comprises carnations and daisy poms in fall colors.
Good said she sought divine inspiration for her entry.
“Now Lord,” she said, “what would you call that? It’s beautiful.”
Good and runner-up Janet Adams of Columbus, Ohio, will receive one of the arrangements as their prizes. Adams submitted “Blooming Pumpkin” through Royer’s sister company, Connells Maple Lee Flowers & Gifts, which has three Columbus-area stores.
This is part of a series of occasional blog posts about important events in Royer’s history as the company marks its 85th anniversary in 2022.
The internet is so entrenched in our lives that it’s easy to forget that only a generation ago everything was new. Online access was mostly via dial-up service using phone lines. The term “blog” hadn’t yet been coined.
And you may not know that Royer’s Flowers pioneered online marketing within the floral industry and was among the first Internet providers in central Pennsylvania.
Kevin Laicha had joined Royer’s in 1984 to provide support in the areas of accounting and computers. In 1993, he hired Scott Curtin, a Lebanon native who was studying computers at Carnegie Mellon University.
Carnegie Mellon was an early player on the internet, which began as a Department of Defense project. Ostensibly hired to clean and maintain computers, Curtin steered Royer’s to acquire an Internet connection through the university.
Selling to the public
In 1994, Royer’s created a new company – Nothing But Net – to get a foothold in the burgeoning online world. To cover the cost of connecting each of its stores and leveraging its computer server capacity, in 1996 Royer’s, through NBN, began selling internet service to the public.
“So that was all we thought: we’ll just get 100 users to offset the cost,” said Laicha, who was president of NBN, which operated from Quentin Circle Shopping Center in Lebanon. Before long, NBN had 3,000 customers paying $19.99 per month for unlimited online access.
NBN built Royer’s first website around 1996; at the time, Laicha recalled, 1-800-Flowers was the only other florist online. NBN’s profits paid for Royer’s ads on Yahoo!, then itself a nascent search engine. Orders flowed in from all over the world.
Another offshoot of the NBN/Royer’s partnership was the development of Flowerlink, an internet-based flower-ordering service that grew to a membership of some 1,000 flower shops around the world.
Royer’s eventually sold NBN to a Lebanon County competitor, Lebanon MobileFone, to focus on its core floral business. But Royer’s maintained an internet division and a strong presence in the digital world while growing its brick-and-mortar stores.
Royer’s today attributes more than half of its annual revenue to online sales.
Candy corn is so popular that it seems to arrive in grocery stores earlier every year.
Royer’s Flowers & Gifts’ annual name-the-arrangement contest is getting a head start on fall, too.
The new all-around arrangement features a ceramic pumpkin, measures 12 inches high and 10 inches wide and comprises carnations and daisy poms in fall colors.
To enter the contest, visit royers.com/contest. Limit one entry daily per email address, through Aug. 12.
One winner and one runner-up will be selected from entries received by Connells Maple Lee and its sister company in Pennsylvania. Both the winner and runner-up will receive one of the arrangements (retail value $36.99) as their prize.
Allison Rivera, 9, enjoys playing any game with a ball, including tennis with a neighbor.
But regardless of whether the East Lampeter Township, Lancaster County, resident ever masters her forehand or backhand, she’s already a skilled freehand artist. “She loves to draw, loves to color,” said her mother, Debbie. “She always has.”
And she’s gotten so good at it that the fourth-grader at J.E. Fritz Elementary School aced this year’s Royer’s Flowers & Gifts Kids Club birthday card design contest.
Her winning entry will adorn the electronic card that kids club members will receive on their birthdays in the coming year. Her design features white daisies set against a purple background and the message, “Have a Flowertastic Birthday!”
Allison’s prize is a free flower delivery on her next birthday.
Allison, whose family also includes her sister, Emily, 8, and father, Angel, loves to draw flowers and people, her mother said. One of her specialties is drawing a person’s face on the side of a cake when it is his or her birthday.
The Royer’s Kids Club is free to ages 5 to 12. With parental permission, children may register for the kids club here or at any Royer’s store. Kids club benefits include a membership card, online activities, a quarterly e-mail newsletter, contests and events.
This is part of a series of occasional blog posts about important events in Royer’s history as the company marks its 85th anniversary in 2022.
In 1937, Lester and Hannah Royer moved their young family from downtown Lebanon to a new home on the outskirts of the city.
Their son Ken was 6 at the time. In his book, “Retailing Flowers Profitably,” Ken noted that the new property provided nearly an acre of land for gardening, “thus my involvement with plants and flowers began.”
That year also marks the beginning of Royer’s Flowers, which Lester and Hannah started from their new home. Decades later, the company would travel far outside the United States to source its flowers.
The elder Royers, who met while students at Elizabethtown College, had each been raised on a farm and knew how to grow vegetables almost instinctively. Hannah also grew African violets on her windowsill. A neighbor sold them at a local garment factory where she worked.
Greenhouses boost production
But starting in 1939, production would begin to far exceed what the neighbor reasonably could sell at her job.
Because that summer, Lester obtained a 10-foot-by-10-foot greenhouse. It was free (“That definitely fit our budget,” Ken noted) but for the effort of dismantling and removing it from the owner’s property.
The greenhouse multiplied the Royers’ production capacity for small plants tenfold, Ken noted. For sales outlets, the family would turn to farmers markets (Ken and his sister working them every Saturday) and eventually open their first store in a converted garage behind their home, adding more greenhouses over time.
“The business remained pretty much the same through the 1970s,” Ken said in a 1991 interview with the Lancaster New Era newspaper. “It was very basic. You grew flowers in a greenhouse and sold them right there. At one time, Lancaster County was the country’s largest producer of carnations.”
But two key events in the late 1970s confronted the floral industry with “vast, profound change,” Ken said.
One was the oil crisis, which caused the price of heating oil to jump from 7.5 cents per gallon to more than $1 seemingly overnight.
“This price change had a devastating effect on the costs of greenhouse operators in the Northeast,” Royer’s included, Ken wrote in his book.
Product now thousands of miles away
Flower production shifted to Colorado and California, the added cost for transportation to the East Coast still less burdensome for Royer’s than the higher fuel costs.
The second event was the realization that Bogota, Colombia, lying on a plateau near the equator, offered the perfect year-round environment for growing flowers, with plenty of cheap labor available for production. Colombian carnations were often superior to what Royer’s grew and lasted longer in a vase.
Other parts of Colombia, such as Medellin, and other South American countries also would gain a foothold in the flower-growing business.
The net effect was that Royer’s had to change from growing flowers to importing them. Around 1980, Ken traveled to South America to begin developing relationships with growers.
“We had to learn how to monitor and control the quality of the product like we did in our own backyard,” he told the New Era, “except the product was being grown thousands of miles away in South America.”
Starting with Ken and continuing with his son Tom and then grandson Geoff, three generations of Royers have made regular trips to South America flower farms. Royer’s may be the only local florist in the United States that makes such visits to check on the quality of the product that will wind up in its customers’ homes and workplaces.
For instance, it has become an annual tradition to visit rose farms in the days leading up to Valentine’s Day to ensure the best quality possible for a florist’s version of the Super Bowl.
Royer’s follows the flowers to Miami, where they pass through customs and are placed on refrigerated trucks for delivery to Royer’s headquarters in Lebanon.
“It’s a product of the way we do things,” Tom said. “We’re very detailed about a lot of things we do. Flower-buying is just one of them.”
Then as now, the purpose for going to Bogota is simple.
“We want the best possible flowers we can find,” Tom said.