Michael Martin has journeyed across the world to run one of Armidale’s most successful businesses, Petals Network. In this interview, he shares how his ‘family-time’ has increased tenfold.
What is your position at Petals Network?
I am the Managing Director of Petals Florist Network and lead Petals’ and Teleflora’s operations in Australia, New Zealand and Great Britain. In April of 2011, Petals was purchased by Teleflora USA, based in Los Angeles, making Petals part of the world’s leading flower delivery service. After a few trips back and forth, I relocated to Armidale from Los Angeles with my wife and our two children to be part of the Petals operation full-time.
Describe your services?
Petals Florist Network is one of Australia’s premier flower delivery services, connecting customers with the best local florists around the world for more than 20 years. We are the largest florist network in Australia, with 1,700+ florist members throughout Australia, New Zealand and the United Kingdom and transmit hundreds of thousands of floral arrangements worldwide.
All Petals floral orders are artistically arranged and hand-delivered from local florists, and most are ordered and delivered in the same day. Operating under both the Petals and Teleflora brands, we make it easy for consumers to send beautiful florist-delivered products anywhere in the world.
In addition to our consumer business, Petals provides a number of technology, e-commerce and marketing solutions to our florist members, designed specifically for floral operations. Petals Florists are the best in the business in a very demanding industry and pride themselves on delivering beautiful, high quality floral bouquets and arrangements on every order.
You moved from the USA to Armidale to run Petals. Are you enjoying your new Armidale lifestyle?
Absolutely! Our family moved to Armidale from Los Angeles, California just over a year ago, and it has been a wonderful adventure. Moving halfway across the world with a 6 and 2 year old to a new country and from an urban centre to a regional city was a tremendous leap of faith that hasn’t come without its share of challenges. But overall, it has been great. My ‘family-time’ has increased tenfold. The commute is 5 minutes.
We couldn’t be more pleased with our son’s school and how well he is adapting to a new country and new home. And the access to Armidale’s natural scenery has been a wonderful bonus, giving us many areas to explore.
How is it possible to run such a big business from a regional city?
It is not only possible, but in many cases easier and more efficient to operate from Armidale than from one of the major cities, and the nature of our business model lends itself to being here. Our key vendors are, literally, just down the street. I can walk a few doors down and have discussions with the team that helps to support our IT infrastructure needs and then another few doors to talk to our Telecom guys and a few more doors and talk to our banker. Armidale is geographically rural, but that has little to no impact on our operations.
I talk with key customers and vendors daily, have online video conferences with employees in Los Angeles and have webinars with our e-commerce and IT development teams regularly. We can address 100% of our operational needs with the team and infrastructure in place in Armidale. Plus, the necessary trips to Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane are very easy to manage.
How many employees do you employ in total?
Our employees are our greatest asset. The Petals Team is 20 strong and all are members of the local community. The group is loyal, seasoned, knowledgeable and extremely dedicated to servicing the needs of all of Petals’ customers. They know our business and our customers and the job they do truly makes Petals stand out in our industry.
How do you manage to remain leaders in your field?
We are not complacent. We will lead by investing in the most modern technology, seeking continuous innovation and improvement in the services we offer, and providing the best people and support in the business to ensure our customers’ confidence and complete satisfaction. At the end of the day, it comes down to providing a valuable service to consumers and remaining a profitable partner to our florist members – and doing that better than our competitors.
What are the benefits of running a huge business from a regional site?
Lower operating costs, employee stability, better service and support and great balance between work and life are all benefits I have experienced first hand.
All of these things give us greater flexibility to take calculated risks and make continuous investments in the company and our florist partners.
Your advice to anyone considering a city change to Armidale?
I guess it depends on your own situation, motives and priorities. For me, the change of pace between Los Angeles and Armidale and the better work/life balance suited our family very well. We love the outdoors, and Armidale thrives when it comes to nature and scenery.
If you are considering a move to a regional city, I would recommend talking to someone who has already done it. Based on my own experiences, I have a long list of both pros and cons. The more people you can talk to, the better sense for how a move like this will impact your own life. The Armidale Chamber of Commerce would be a great resource to start prior to any relocation. It is also a great resource for networking and getting established once you arrive.
This story was published in issue 63 of the New England Focus