ELMER G. SCHIENBEIN, AAF
August 7, 1928 – February 11, 2009
Phoenix Flower Shops company founder, Elmer G. Schienbein was born on August 7, 1928 in Spruce Grove, Alberta, Canada and grew up on the family farm. As a young man he moved to Toronto where he worked at Garrett Manufacturing. In 1960, Elmer moved to Arizona with his wife Joan and 2 young children, Don and Donna, having transferred to Garrett’s plant in Phoenix.
Elmer, along with a couple of partners, opened a cash and carry flower shop called Flowerland in December 1960 with plans to franchise the operation. In just a few months, the group had sold 4 franchised stores. The group’s success was short lived as the partnership quickly broke up with Elmer and one of his partners taking control of the company and the original store at 7th Street and Maryland in Phoenix. The pair changed the name of that first store to Phoenix Flower Shop and a tradition in floral retailing was born.
During the next 38 years, Elmer grew that single flower shop into a chain of ten retail stores located throughout the Phoenix metropolitan area. In addition, Elmer acquired Downs Greenhouse and expanded the operation to become a full service wholesale florist. Along the way, Elmer grew that single flower shop into the largest retail floral operation in the Southwest and one of the Top 50 floral retailers in the United States.
In the late 1960’s he was recognized as one of the first florists in the country to equip his delivery fleet with two way radios to communicate with his delivery staff.
He loved to be in the middle of the action and feel the pulse of the buiness, observing what was going on while always looking for ways to improve his floral operation. He often did this while sweeping the floor which resulted in him referring to himself jokingly as “The Company Floor Sweeper”.
Elmer went into semi-retirement in 1998 when his son, Don Schienbein, and the company’s then Vice President, Ken Young purchased the company. For the next ten years, Elmer remained involved in the industry as he travelled to various floral industry events representing Phoenix Flower Shops. He officially retired from the company in July 2008.
Throughout his career, Elmer was active in the floral industry having served in several leadership positions with the Arizona State Florists Association and the Florists Transworld Delivery Association. In addition, he was active in a number of civic and fraternal organizations.
He was inducted into the Society of American Florists “American Academy of Floriculture” in 1982. In 1988 Elmer received a very special honor as he was recognized as the “Retailer of the Year” by the California State Florists Association even though he did not have a retail store in the state. He was also recognized by the Arizona State Florists Association in 1989 when he was named an “Honorary Lifetime Member” of the organization.
Elmer’s love for the floral industry allowed him to grow a small cash and carry shop into a nationally recognized floral retailer. His guidance and love for life will be greatly missed by all who were fortunate to have crossed paths with him during his lifetime.