Flowering Ownership

At Work

Flowering ownership: Brothers juggle priorities by taking flexible approach

Business First of Louisville – by Lucy M. Pritchett Business First Correspondent

Photo by Ron Bath
Brothers David, Eddie and Michael Kraft, own and operate their family business, Nanz & Kraft Florists.

View Larger

If all it took was boundless energy to sell flowers, then the Kraft brothers would have a lock on the market.

The sixth generation to own Nanz & Kraft Florists, Eddie Kraft, Michael Kraft and David Kraft have been running the store for 10 years even though their father, E. Ramsey Kraft, officially retired in October 2006 after 40 years.

To sit in the room with the brothers and listen to how they run the business, solve problems, buy fresh flowers and home accessories, juggle deliveries and gear up for Mother’s Day and other holidays is a lesson straight out of an MBA business essentials course.

“Since we have been working in the company for 20 years, our individual areas of running the business have sorted themselves out,” said David Kraft, 36, the quiet one.

As vice president, he runs the company’s technology systems, Internet sales and phone-order departments.

Michael Kraft, 40, the jokester and middle brother, has the enviable task of ordering and buying fresh flowers from South America, Florida and California and plants from Canada.

Eddie Kraft, 42, is the gregarious one. “It’s my year to be president,” he said jokingly.

He buys giftware, vases, home accessories and permanent botanicals (silk flowers) and recently added the store’s new line of Vera Bradley merchandise.

Even as one is talking, the other two quietly discuss some point of business together or check figures on a computer.

Most topics of discussion come up during the mandatory weekly meeting attended by the brothers and a rotation of the business’ eight managers.

Eddie Kraft and Michael Kraft share a first-floor office, and David Kraft’s is just up a back staircase. They each work eight to 10 hours a day, five days a week.

But on holidays, that schedule goes out the window.

“Mother’s Day is our biggest weekend (Thursday through Sunday), Valentine’s Day is our biggest day, and Christmas is our biggest season,” said Eddie Kraft.

On Mother’s Day weekend, the brothers are very much hands on, arranging flowers, waiting on customers, taking phone calls and sorting out deliveries.

“On Saturday we go full tilt,” Eddie Kraft said. Last year, the business made more than 3,000 deliveries and had 1,000 customers come to the store.

Some lessons from the brothers:

“It is all about communication with each other,” Eddie Kraft said, citing e-mail and phones as prominent management tools.

“We all have our own ideas and opinions, but in the end the deciding factor is ‘What is best for the customer? ” said Michael Kraft.

David Kraft added, “And the staff is our prime contact with the customer. If the staff is not happy, it is going to show.”