Sam, why did you and your parents select Carroll as your high school?
I’m not sure I even had a choice. All of my friends went to Carroll. I knew nothing about it before I went there, but it was one of the best choices I made.
What lesson did you learn at Carroll that still plays apart of your life everyday?
Hard work equals success. You’ve got to put in the time and the effort, but you still need to have fun. My motto tends to be “Work hard. Play hard.”
Do you have a fond memory that stands out from your time at Carroll?
I really enjoyed the boys vs. girls sides. I loved having just the guys in the classroom because we could have open and honest conversations in the classrooms, which is very important at that age.
Can you tell us about your career path and how that led to your current position?
I’ve had a crazy career path. My grandfather owned a landscape nursery so I grew up running around with my cousins and driving tractors. I got into the greenhouses and plants and horticulture really early. In high school my father owned a flower shop so I got into the floral business a little bit. That’s where I found my creativity and really got into events.
I graduated from Carroll in 1986 and then went to the University of Delaware to study Horticulture and Landscape Design. While I was at Delaware I discovered a couple of internships at Walt Disney World in Florida. I went down there and studied Horticulture for two semesters. I fell in love with Disney and the theme park concept.
After college I decided to go back to Florida for a “few years.” Those “few years” turned into 13 years. I developed my career there and moved my way up through the ranks first in horticulture and then special events. Disney, in my experience, has opened up so many doors for me. The reputation of Disney and having that on my resume has been invaluable. I also loved the whole “behind the scenes/backstage” magic. We would come in at 2am, rip up a flowerbed and put new flowers in and the guests knew nothing. I loved that type of experience.
Then 13 years ago the designer and director for the Philadelphia Flower Show was retiring after 25 years. They did a national search and I got a call. My wife and I always had a conversation about what job, or thing would take us away from Florida and Disney. This was always it for me. And I had the opportunity to move back home to be closer to my parents and grandparents. My dad is actually on the show floor right now. He’s retired, sold his shop and now works for Valley Forge Flowers part-time. (Fun fact: Valley Forge Flowers is owned by another Carroll alum, Barbara King
and her shop was also selected for all the cut flowers in the central feature at this year’s flower show).
Do you have a favorite Flower Show?
My favorite show was Jazz it up, which was a New Orleans show. I’m a huge jazz fan and we flew bands from New Orleans up. We recreated the French Quarter and had different bands playing each day.
After our interview, Sam also graciously gave us a sneak-peek of this year’s flower show,
The show runs from March 5-13.