By Jeff Wagner

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — The floral industry in Minnesota is just about back to normal after taking a hit from Hurricane Irma but a new challenge is on the horizon.

Koehler and Dramm (K&D) is a flower wholesaler in Minneapolis that gets much of its product from Florida. Hurricane Irma ruined fields there and slowed shipments. Now, the wholesaler has to worry about the possible impact of Hurricane Maria.

If you love your job, you’ll never work a day in your life — florist Mary Lou Box defines that old saying as she scanned the rainbow assortment of roses in the massive refrigerator room at K&D.

“It’s like a kid in a candy store,” she said with a smile.

But even she’s had a stressful time running her store in Blaine, the Flower Shoppe, recently.

“It has been a lot harder, there’s no question about it,” she said.

She fills her shop with flowers from K&D. The company buys roses from South America, but they have to be shipped through Florida — a route Hurricane Irma aggressively interrupted.

“When your supply chain completely stops for a week to 10 days, there’s obviously going to be an impact on what you receive on time,” said Eric Mahannah, the South American buy for K&D.

On top of that problem, some of the greens they sell are grown in Florida.

“One of our contacts at a farm there said it looked like a bomb went off in her fields,” he said.

Mahannah said they planned ahead by buying a larger than normal supply before the hurricane hit, but the September wedding season drained them of their white roses.

“People weren’t able to get every specific variety they wanted, but if they needed roses we had roses,” he said.

“We’re also experiencing a lot of drive-by brides,” said Box. “Believe this or not, they don’t plan ahead. Their wedding’s in a couple of days, they want a wedding with 500 white roses or who knows, whatever color.”

A truck filled with 70,000 roses arrived at K&D Wednesday morning Mahannah said, leaving them fully stocked and back to normal. Staff say they’re now fully stocked. Now with Hurricane Maria looming, florists like Box continue to worry.

“It’s been tough, but we take the order and pray to god we’re able to get it. And we’ve been very successful in getting product,” she said. “I feel guilty even thinking about having to raise my prices on any product when I think of all the people that have lost everything.”

Staff at K&D said the average flower shop customer around the Twin Cities should be able to find what they’re looking for by this weekend.

Jeff Wagner


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