Art Conforti, owner of one of the largest florists in the Sarasota-Manatee area, isn’t afraid to spread the love. Not just in flowers, but in business advice. In fact, Conforti travels across the country consulting for other independent florists. A onetime bus driver for Sarasota County, Conforti is in a good spot to dispense advice: Teleflora, an industry trade group, consistently ranks his company, Beneva Flowers, in the top 20 nationwide for sales among independent florists.
Conforti says he’s a hands-on boss, but he also lets his employees make decisions. “My day,” he says, “revolves around checks and balances.” Here’s a peek into Conforti’s daily workspace:
1. Screen man: A set of two TV screens hangs on the wall behind the computers on his desk. The screens are to view nearly a dozen security angles in real time across the three connected buildings that make up Beneva Flowers. “This is mission control,” Conforti says. “I can see everything from here.” Conforti says he takes security seriously, but he’s not obsessed. “It’s not that I sit here and stare all day long,” he says.
2. It’s awesome: Conforti is close friends with basketball announcer and local philanthropist Dick Vitale — a fellow New York area native with Italian heritage. The friends and their spouses have traveled to many sporting events over the years, going back to days when Vitale wasn’t so well known.
3. World’s window: A small window, with blinds, opposite Conforti’s desk has a view to the floral arrangement table in the shop’s main design room. That’s where Conforti can see, from his chair, what’s going on and how busy — or not busy — the company is.
4. Time Check: Conforti is known for tardiness. “I work around the clock,” he says. “I’m always on go-time. I’m always going somewhere.” He’s just not getting there on time. A friend bought Conforti an “Art clock” several years ago, where the numbers are out of order. The 2 is where the 12 should be, for example, while the 3 is at 6.
5. Family florist: Conforti’s mother, Nejla Iz, was an opera singer in the 1940s in New York City. An 8-by-10 picture of her hangs in the office, on a shelf above the refrigerator.
6. Sports city: Conforti is a fan of New York sports teams, especially the Yankees and Giants, but his walls of fame hold no biases. Framed pictures include Michael Jordan, Tim Tebow and former Chicago White Sox and Pittsburgh Pirates manager Gene Lamont.
7. Change agent: One of Conforti’s favorite sayings is “A bend in the road is not the end of the road … unless you fail to make the turn.” He keeps a framed picture of a road, with the saying, to the left of his computer screen, where he can see it constantly. “Change isn’t always about growing,” says Conforti. “It’s also about getting better.”
8. Smooth surface: Conforti’s work space is two slabs of a marble table. It was a gift from a friend.
9. Wine and dine: A dorm-room sized refrigerator sits to the right of Conforti’s desk, next to the closet that stores servers and technical gear. He regularly keeps bottled water in the refrigerator, and sometimes salads.
10. Summer wind: Music plays through ceiling speakers in Conforti’s office all day long. The song list is a rotation of smooth jazz, light hits and Frank Sinatra. Anything that sets a happy and relaxed mood. “Music is very important to me,” Conforti says. “When I walk through the door I want it to be on.”
*written by Mark Gordon, Deputy Managing Editor of the Gulf Coast Business Review (Click here to view original source)