With over 60 years in business, I never really stopped to question the sustainability of Rich Mar Florists. The business had been passed multiple generations to me, the fourth generation of Morrissey ownership. We had grown from a tiny basement-operated business to being recognized as one of the top-100 FTD florists in the country. We won the 2017 Lehigh Valley Chamber of Commerce Excellence in Business Award. We were named “Best in the Valley” by Lehigh Valley Magazine in 2018, also just celebrated three straight years as The Morning Call’s Best Florist (2019-2021).
I say all of this not to brag but for perspective. When the pandemic forced businesses nationwide to shut down, I found myself leaving work and locking the door for what I thought could be the last time. I was uncertain of the future and dejected that my professional career could have been over and not on my own terms. The business had survived three generations, and I didn’t want the family vision to die with me. Like many other professionals in Pennsylvania, I hit the lowest point of my then 16 years in my profession. But with such unprecedented conditions, there was no roadmap. There was no clear path. All we could do was lock up and head home, hoping for the best for our business, our families, and our employees.
Thank God for my wife, Melissa. We met in college, and she’d witnessed many of the normal ups and downs of business. And as my business teammate, she knew the enormous stress I was feeling. Seeing me distraught, she encouraged me to take a walk to clear my mind during the first week of the shutdown. In that time, I immediately felt re-energized after talking with other florists and Harrisburg business owners. Shortly after that, after eight days of being at home, the news we were hoping for was announced. We could return to work in a limited capacity.
What did this mean? It meant that our distribution center, phones, and website could be open, but our retail stores remained closed for over 60 days. Slowly, employees returned to work. We can’t put into words just how much relief my family and I had, knowing we could start rebuilding our business. More importantly, we were able to bring back our employees and continue building the business their families relied on. We were so grateful for their return.
Meanwhile, my involvement in motorsports and NASCAR had kept me busy. As a company, we had just begun sponsorship within NASCAR in 2019, just before Covid. I had made verbal sponsorship commitments to several drivers for the 2020 season – just before everything came unglued. Unsure if I should, or could, move forward on those commitments, I took a leap of faith. I kept my word and never looked back. Thankfully, real-life racing transitioned to nationally televised virtual races. We enjoyed success in those virtual “iRaces,” leading to partnerships with Dover Speedway.
After seeing some success within motorsports, I focused on growing our footprint within the sport as racing returned to the track. We created our own Rich Mar Racing brand. It was exhilarating – grabbing wins and backing star drivers from all over the country. As the list of Rich Mar sponsored drivers grew, massive social media support followed. It is truly amazing to see fans worldwide recognizing and supporting our brand and supporting our drivers. I will always be grateful for the support system and network that came from racing,
I learned many things during the pandemic. Not just in business, but more importantly, about myself. I learned to be resilient to the world around me. I learned that my family, friends, and every relationship mattered so much to me. I now see every day I walk into the door at Rich Mar Florists and get to work with our customers as a blessing.
As with every industry, our company remains a little shorthanded. However, the employees who stayed with us the past two years have increased their focus. They’ve seen our short handedness as an opportunity. Instead of complaining, they show up with a smile on their face, ready to showcase their work ethic and talent.
Everyone learned something from the pandemic. Some learned new hobbies, others learned new value systems. Some gained friends, some lost friends. Some learned what they loved about work, some what they hated. For me, I saw the pandemic as a reminder to seize opportunities. Whether these opportunities are personal or professional. In my case, as a business owner, it’s always a little of both. The day begins and ends with work, as it does for any successful professional. Just today, I am just a little more grateful than pre-pandemic.
Our family motto, “Dream Big Always” is a constant reminder that our story is only getting started, and I couldn’t be more thankful to be part of writing the next chapter with my support system.
About The Author
Jonathan Morrissey is a fourth-generation florist who specializes in corporate accounts, marketing, and wedding floral consulting. A passion for all things business, Jonathan is also heavily involved in Rich Mar Florists outside the box marketing such as celebrity endorsement and Rich Mar Florist Racing.