A Blossoming Business
McNamara Florist Owner Talks Floral Success, New Downtown Headquarters
Writer: Suzanne Huntzinger
Photographer: Brian Brosmer
It’s been just a little over a year since McNamara Florist moved its headquarters from its Fishers location, and business is blooming.
McNamara delivers to Indianapolis, Avon, Noblesville, Zionsville, Carmel, Fishers, Brownsburg, Greenwood, Broad Ripple and Glendale. The company moved to its new location in 2016 on Massachusetts Avenue in the Brookside Industrial Corridor in a bold move to revitalize the area and establish a presence in a location that’s central to all the McNamara stores.
After purchasing an old abandoned warehouse and completely renovating it, their new 78,000 square foot space reflects modern trends just as their floral designs. With a modern industrial flair, the showroom bursts with gorgeous vignettes of floral designs and gifts for customers to picture in their own homes or as a gift. But under this roof is much more than just a retail showroom. Along with the floral showroom, the building houses a conference room for bridal and special event consultations, a massive warehouse for floral delivery, storage for rented seasonal displays (like those in hotels and corporations), sales and administrative offices and even the call center where orders are received. Leaving no small detail untouched, there’s even a place where McNamara delivery vans can pull in and load flowers in a climate controlled area, minimizing the flowers’ exposure to the elements.
The bustling hub is where Owner, CEO and President, Toomie Farris, makes it all happen. Joining the company in 1980, Farris has seen the business through a complete cycle of economic phases and ownership phases. The floral giant was started by Bob McNamara in 1954, who still sits on the company’s board today. Through the years, McNamara Florist has gone from a privately held company to family held to publicly held to private equity and back to privately held when Farris bought the business in 2007. It’s ridden the roller coaster of economic upticks and downturns, including the most recent one in 2008.
Farris has also weathered the storm. Joining the company as a store manager, Farris was delighted at the opportunity to leave his job in Iowa, move to Indianapolis and put his horticulture degree to work. Flexing his floral muscle, he electrified customers with his innovative floral designs.
“I developed my passion for flowers growing up on a farm in Missouri,” Farris says. “Both sets of my grandparents had lots of flowers around and I always loved it. But as I grew up, I became interested in medicine. My parents talked me out of it, so flowers it was.”
When landscaping company, Engledow, bought McNamara, he spent time with them. From that springboard, Farris flourished, launching Enflora, the brand specifically for businesses. Through Enflora, businesses can buy flowers for special events or occasions, rent elaborate seasonal displays, decorate and beautify their common areas, or even for gifts or recognition. The brand still thrives today, and is a major part of McNamara’s seasonal decoration operations for hotels, restaurants and other corporations.
“We’ve been fortunate to be a part of so many exciting events like the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra Gala for decades, and the Peyton Manning Children’s Hospital Gala,” Farris says.
Eventually, Engledow sold McNamara and Enflora to Marsh, and Farris became head of floral fashions for 60 stores. Throughout all of it, he’s maintained an unshakable loyalty to McNamara Florist that has kept him there for more than 37 years.
“There were times I knew things were changing,” Farris says. “I’ve seen retail stores dwindle from 28,000 to under 15,000 since 2000. But I know the brand and I have a lot of years and experience invested, so, I’m going to do what it takes to keep the business moving forward.”
Since buying the company in 2007, Farris has nurtured the company like his flowers.
“I feel about the McNamara brand the same way you would on a farm,” he says. “You care for it and nurture it because you have to leave it just as good or even better than the way you found it.”
Farris has kept McNamara the way he found it with one simple strategy. As one customer wisely told him, people buy flowers from people.
“We’re just good old folks doing business with Hoosiers,” he says. “We want to be there for you during the important and emotional times in your life. Whether it’s a happy or sad time, it’s an appropriate time to send flowers.”
McNamara’s strategy of relationship building shows in the way they give friendly, personalized service, in conveniently accessible locations (especially online 24 hours a day).
“We still do stems and other cash and carry orders,” Farris says. “But, when it comes to a special occasion like a birthday or Valentine’s Day, you need someone experienced in design. It’s like the difference between a burger on the grill or a filet.”
But McNamara doesn’t just focus on high end. Their designers put a lot of effort into offering a wide variety of bouquets for under $20.
“We offer bouquets for $150, $20 and everything in between,” Farris says. “Customers tell us it’s worth it. That’s good to hear, because we want it to be worth their time to come into our store.”
While McNamara is settling into its new headquarters, Farris is looking ahead to the future. He says the outlook is strong, but he plans on looking for opportunities to evolve and improve.
“There are some areas that are underserved, and we’ll possibly target those for expansion,” he says.
As a member of the American Institute of Floral Designers, Farris will continually keep it fresh by staying up on new trends and styles.
“Corporations and businesses will always stay modern and contemporary,” Farris says. “But the trend for residential is country and industrial chic.”
No matter what trend you follow, stop into any of McNamara’s nine retail stores today. Or visit their new showroom at 1853 Ludlow Avenue, Indianapolis, near 18th Street and Massachusetts Avenue. Call them today at 317-579-7900 to order flowers or visit their website at mcnamaraflorist.com.