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A Lifetime Devoted to Flowers

Red Kennicott receives the Floriology powered by BloomNet award

Harrison “Red” Kennicott, the chairman of Chicago’s Kennicott Brothers Company, Inc., has been named the recipient of the 2019 Floriology powered by BloomNet Award. The award was created to honor individuals who are passionate about the floral industry and have dedicated themselves to enhancing the industry, which is exactly what Red has done for the better part of a century.

Red is now 82 and he has spent practically his whole life working with flowers. He’s been involved in the family flower business in some capacity ever since he was just 12 years old.

“It is truly an honor to receive this award, and it is very humbling to be added to the list of very worthy people who have received it in the past,” he says. “From my earliest years, I’ve always been fascinated with flowers and the people of the flower industry — and how we touch emotions in the lives of those who receive flowers. I have spent my entire career in this industry, and I truly have never had a boring day.”

Red has received many awards over the years for his work and contributions to the floral industry. He’s previously been honored with the American Institute of Floral Designers (AIFD) Award of Merit and the Society of American Florists (SAF) Paul Ecke Award. In 2011, he was inducted into the SAF Floriculture Hall of Fame, an honor that Red’s father, Harrison Kennicott II, was also given when he was inducted in 1980.

 “Every material thing that I enjoy in life is a result of my being in the flower industry, and I have met most of my close friends through participation in this industry,” Red says. “I am very grateful for all that the industry has provided for me and my family.”

In turn, the industry is thankful to what Red and his family have given it over the years. Kennicott Brothers Company is a renowned floral supplier and is recognized by the Illinois State Historical Society as one of the oldest continuous businesses in the state. The company was founded in 1881 by Red’s grandfather and great uncle. They first served florists in Chicago and eventually across the Midwest. Red joined the company full-time in 1959 amid great expansion of the business. By the 1970s, Kennicott Brothers Company became the state’s largest rose grower and opened a bouquet department to service local supermarkets.

After several generations as a family owned company, Kennicott Brothers became employee-owned in 2000 through an Employee Stock Ownership Plan (ESOP). The ESOP enabled continued growth of the company, “by allowing us to attract more of the right people,” Red says. “We have a great team, including many from the younger generations, led by a strong board of directors and our president, Gustavo Gilchrist.”

Talking about the team at Kennicott Brothers Company touches on a very important aspect of the flower business for Red. He explains that quality people have kept his family’s flower business going for nearly 140 years and Red says flower people have inspired him to do his best to expand the industry for others.

“Engaged, dedicated people are always the reason that businesses succeed and are sustained over the years,” Red says. “Getting to know other people at every level of the supply chain of our industry has been inspiring and rewarding.”

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