2023 Business Presenters

Social Gurus, Superstar Storeowners and 40 Under 40 Professors.

Discover the keys to succes in the floral industry from our phenomenal business presenters who will be sharing their expertise & insight with you at the GLFEE.

Samantha Belonga

Co-owner of St Ignace in Bloom | Greenhouse Florist

Samantha Belonga, CF

Samantha and her husband Alex are the owners of St Ignace in Bloom | Greenhouse Florist in St Ignace Michigan as well as Fleurish & Bloom on Mackinac located on Mackinac Island, Michigan.

Samantha heads up the cut flower and wedding division of St Ignace In Bloom and oversees the new location on Mackinac Island.

Mike Huggett

Mike Huggett

Mike Huggett started his career at Raker Acres located in Litchfield Michigan at the ripe old age of 14. From that time, Mike worked through the transition from field laborer to greenhouse ornamental and vegetable production, ultimately gaining the position of head grower.

After leaving production Mike began working for breeders such as Daehnfeldt and Floranova working specifically as technical advisor for each. In 2008 Mike began working as technical product manager for Takii eventually being named Eastern Flower Sales Manager in 2012. He was promoted to National Flower Sales Manager in 2017. Mike also directs new product development and marketing for the flower department.

Jessica Kegerreis

Senior Marketing and Creative Manager at Syndicate Sales, Inc

Jessica Kegerreis

Jessica started her career whilst enrolled in college as an intern for her Photography professor at a branding and design studio in Indianapolis, IN and quickly worked her way up to Creative Director after just 8 years. She then moved on to a marketing agency where she designed, built, and managed over 200 websites, and successfully developed complementary, omni-channel marketing campaigns for nearly half of the projects. As a result, Jessica has developed a keen understanding of how creative solutions and marketing strategies can fuel growth.

Throughout her career, Jessica has used her photography experience from family photo sessions, weddings, and senior pictures to product images and full-scale catalog photoshoots to better her personal and professional advancement.

Jessica is currently the Senior Marketing and Creative Manager at Syndicate Sales, Inc. based out of Kokomo, Indiana. With 15+ years of experience in the home and garden industry and 5 years of experience in the floral trade, Jessica offers both strategic and creative solutions for our vast industry.

Dr. Melinda Knuth

Assistant Professor in Horticultural Science at North Carolina State University

Dr. Melinda Knuth

Dr. Knuth’s research priorities are on consumer and market research experience by focusing on the interface between people and plants, helping the horticulture industry understand consumer preferences, perceptions, and motivations. Historically, Dr. Knuth has evaluated trade flows of horticulture products in the United States, assessed the supply chain in the cut flower industry, investigated profit margins in substituting species in floral arrangements, and estimated consumer acceptance of retail messaging.

She currently is an Assistant Professor in Horticultural Science at North Carolina State University. Dr. Knuth teaches Greenhouse Management, Floriculture Production, Floral Design, and Horticulture Marketing. Dr. Knuth received her PhD from Texas A&M University in Horticultural Science with a certificate in Applied Statistics. From there, she was a postdoctoral research associate at University of Florida in the Food & Resource Economics Department. She currently serves as the Young Professional Council Advisor for American Floral Endowment’s Executive Board. Dr. Knuth received GPN Magazine’s 40 under 40 award in 2021 and a 2017 AmericanHort Scholar.

Cliff McClumpha

Owner of Hyacinth House Greenery

Cliff McClumpha

Owner of Hyacinth House Greenery (HHG), a full service retail florist and wholesale greenhouse, in Lansing, MI. He started working at HHG simply unloading trucks full of plants on the weekends when he was 15 years old. He was able to continue working for HHG while he worked towards earning his bachelor’s degree at MSU.

As time (years) passed, he kept learning more and more about the plant and floral industry. The more he learned, the more his passion for plants and flowers grew.

Bob Negen

Co-founder of WhizBang!

Bob Negen

Co-founder of WhizBang! Retail Training, is a retail expert, author, speaker, and business coach. Bob motivates and trains independent retailers to improve and grow their businesses with actionable tactics and strategies. His proven systems and techniques consistently deliver measurable results in over 40 retail industries – including the floral industry. Bob speaks to business owners in their own language using real-world retail experiences and humorous stories from the trenches.

A retailer himself for 19 years, Bob turned his single kite store into an award-winning multi-million-dollar toy store chain. Now he uses his four decades of retail experience to help store owners and managers learn the necessary business skills they need to succeed in today’s changing retail environment.

Renato Cruz Sogueco

AAF, PFCI | Vice President of Digital Strategy and Education at BloomNet

Renato Cruz Sogueco AAF, PFCI

Vice President of Digital Strategy and Education at BloomNet, a premier florist services company. His primary role is to serve member florists by developing innovative services and solutions focusing on digital marketing strategies such as search engine optimization (SEO), search engine marketing (SEM), social media, content marketing and mobile strategy to help them build web traffic and engage customers.

He also serves as lead educator on topics such as new technology, digital marketing strategy and business, consumer and demographic trends at the Floriology Institute in Jacksonville, FL., and the new online learning platform, Floriology Now. Prior, he served as Chief Information Officer (CIO) for the Society of American Florists (SAF), the floral industry’s trade organization providing marketing, technology and government relations for flower growers, suppliers, wholesalers and retailers.

Brenda Sterk

Business Analyst and Production Manager for Eastern Floral

Brenda Sterk

Has been designing for 27 years. She has worked and managed several different flower shops in the Grand Rapids area.

She is now working as the Business Analyst and Production Manager for Eastern Floral in Grand Rapids MI. Brenda is a strong believer in continued education for all areas of the Floral business.