‘We focus completely on the client’
Michael Venners of Winter Haven, Fla., has been in the florist and wedding and special events planning businesses since the mid-1970s, but the seeds of his successful - and growing - enterprise were planted long before that.
Mike tells the story about the days, during his adolescence, when his mother worked part time at a flower shop in Michigan. He said he took a liking to how the flower shop smelled when he went there with his mother or went to visit her. He said one of his first jobs, when he was teenager and just old enough to drive, was working as a delivery driver for the shop.
By February 1976, Mike had his own florist business after the purchase of his first store in Brooklyn, Mich. That soon led to party planning for five big races each year at Michigan International Speedway in Brooklyn. The clients included some of the biggest names in motorsports, including Marlboro Racing, Electrolux and Penske Racing.
In the early 1980s, Mike was traveling to Chicago and states neighboring to Michigan to plan and put on weddings, large parties and fundraisers. He said his biggest event ever was a circus-themed party in Chicago. Other clients through the years have included Helen Saks of Saks Fifth Avenue fame, Coca-Cola, the Wal-Mart corporation and McCormick Spices.
In the late 1980s, Mike moved to South Florida and opened several stores there. He also started a wholesale operation so, as he put it, he could have "better hands-on purchasing of products for my clients."
With a sense of pride and accomplishment, Mike talks about the successful party he planned in the 1990s for 400 people at a private home in South Florida. The guest of honor? None other than then-President Bill Clinton.
Mike then moved to west central Florida, where he bought a store in Brandon and opened one in south Lakeland. Brandon Florist at 744 W. Brandon Blvd. remains his primary retail operation, serving customers in both Hillsborough and Polk counties.
Meanwhile, Mike has continued full speed with his wedding and special events planning and coordination operation, m. William designs. It's work he says he truly loves.
"I work with a great design team," he says. "There's not an event too big or small that we can't do. We pay great attention to detail."
Based now in Winter Haven, m. William designs serves the greater Interstate 4 corridor, from the Tampa-St. Petersburg-Clearwater area in the west, to Plant City and Polk County in the middle and to the
Orlando-Kissimmee area in the east. Mike also has traveled well outside of Central Florida to work with new and returning clients.
"We focus completely on the client," Mike told a writer for the Main Street Winter Haven organization. "Whether it's a million-dollar party or a bride asking for a simple bouquet to take to the justice of the peace, every customer's dream is equally important us."
Michael Venners and his company have
been featured prominently in
Central Florida publications.