Making Life’s Occasions Special
Beneva Flowers & Gifts has been helping make key moments in people’s lives memorable and special for 30 years. It began when the Conforti family came to Sarasota in 1986 and started a flower shop, which quickly grew in popularity, gained a stellar reputation, and became synonymous with creating exquisite florals. Beneva Flowers was purchased in late 2015 by a lovely couple from Chicago, David and Shannon Shuel, who are excited to continue its legacy of making life’s occasions truly special.
“When we purchased Beneva Flowers, (6980 Beneva Road | 941.923.7401) we acquired a brand and local identity that is amazing. Customers have come to expect the highest level of service and the best quality products at competitive prices,” said David Shuel. “Whether it’s for a wedding, special event, birthday, or anniversary, we enjoy making a difference in people’s lives by ensuring a positive experience, recommending and creating exquisite florals and gift baskets, and being a part of their special occasion.”
Since the joy and comfort of receiving beautiful flowers brings together those who give them and those who receive them, Beneva Flowers was the perfect business choice to bring together the family-oriented Shuels, who love to spend time together. “My wife’s parents are in Naples, and we spent a lot of time there and in Fort Myers, so we knew we wanted to live and acquire a business on the West Coast,” David said. “My kids, who are 10 and 11, come in all the time. I’m all about my family, and I take that approach with our employees. We have an open-door policy, and they know they can come to us with anything.”
The business has about 50 employees, and during the holiday rush, another 35 to 40 temporary helpers are added. The entire staff was retained following the sale to allow for a seamless transition for customers. “Keeping the exceptional quality and creativeness Beneva Flowers’ designers have produced throughout the years was very important to us. Their arrangements are very artistic and unique, and we allow them to expand on their creativity, he added.”
The Shuels are business-savvy, customer-oriented and entrepreneurial, but the floral business, with its retail component and a highly perishable product, was a new experience. They sold a very successful wholesale distributor of industrial and building maintenance supplies in 2014 and decided to leave winters behind. According to David, “We looked at several companies, but fell in love with the Beneva Flowers brand. It’s been a fun experience. We love the white sand beaches on the West Coast and felt Sarasota was a great community and more our speed.”
The Shuels have been investing in the business, continuing to build its online presence with Yelp and Google and participating very actively in social media, including Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest. They also have made improvements to Beneva Flowers’ bricks-and-mortar operation at 6980 Beneva Road in Sarasota, replacing infrastructure items like new vans and coolers and making cosmetic upgrades.
Today, Beneva Flowers (941.923.7401/beneva.com) is one of the top 20 florists in the country. In addition to a large selection of cut-flower arrangements and green and flowering plants, Beneva Flowers offers a range of gift baskets and gift items. Customers can even include a bottle of wine or champagne with their order.
Looking forward, David and Shannon have set a high bar for growth. “We plan to grow the current business organically and to diversify the business by expanding into plant sales, rental and maintenance for home and commercial. We’re also expanding our wedding and special events division and want to extend our geography by looking for the right acquisitions,” David said. And while they continue to grow the business, the tradition of stellar customer service will remain the same, including remaining open 365 days a year.
David and Shannon are proud community supporters and are delighted to continue Beneva Flowers’ dedication to the community through their involvement with local charities and local chambers of commerce. David is involved with several charitable organizations in town, is a member of the CEO Forum, and participated in Real Men Wear Pink for breast cancer awareness. Shannon is active in fundraising and leadership with local nonprofits. “We feel it is important to stay engaged and be part of the community,” Shannon said. “Everyone has been so welcoming and kind to us. This is a wonderful place to live, and we are very happy to be here.”