Uniflora’s 50 years of experience in plant cultivation, research, product development, procurement, and logistics, combined with our love of the floral industry, has made us dedicated to bringing customers the highest quality decorative cut greens grown in America. We strive to have a positive influence on all who come in contact with our company by providing products that will delight the eyes and enhance any event.
In 1972, Uniflora Overseas Florida began when Fritz Tempelhof, owner of Uniflora Germany with offices in Hamburg, Berlin, and Mainz, joined with James Rumford, a leatherleaf grower and owner of Grandview Yalaha Florida, and his secretary, Diane Knight-Cummins, to evaluate and organize the first shipments of ocean-refrigerated containers of leatherleaf ferns to Germany for distribution throughout Europe.
The project began when Florida leatherleaf fern growers agreed to implement uniform standards and packaging to facilitate the founding of a new market. In 1973, a trial run with only about 5 boxes, in a 35-foot Sealand container, departed from the port of Jacksonville, Florida, for Hamburg, Germany. The trial was successful, and the export to Europe of Florida leatherleaf fern soon grew into a multibillion-dollar industry.
In 1975, Fritz Tempelhof and Diane Knight-Cummins formed a new Florida corporation, Uniflora Overseas Florida, Inc., which became a dominant force in the European floral market, with distribution through Uniflora’s three German locations. Diane Knight-Cummins became the agent and president for Uniflora Overseas Florida, Inc.
Next, Uniflora Overseas Florida, Inc. developed a shorter transit time for shipping products from the Seattle-Tacoma, Washington, area to Germany by using the railway to Port Elizabeth, New Jersey, and then sea container to Europe. The success of this project reduced the transit time to Europe by three weeks for western ferns, salal, and bear grass. The Washington State products arrived at the market sooner and had an extended shelf life.
In 1982, Mr. Suzuki, the president of Allied Co, Ltd.’s floral division, Sumitomo, from Tokyo, Japan, contacted Uniflora Overseas Florida, Inc. Mr. Suzuki wanted to develop a project with Diane Knight-Cummins that mirrored the same exportation of Florida leatherleaf ferns and western greens to Japan via refrigerated ocean containers. This provided the impetus for expanding into Guatemalan and Costa Rican leatherleaf ferns, which established a new market for decorative cut greens. Following this success, Diane and the Uniflora and Allied team traveled to Columbia, Mexico, Guatemala, Costa Rica, Panama, Vietnam, Thailand, Canada, and other locations, establishing sister companies for procuring, growing, and distributing leatherleaf fern. During this time, Uniflora also expanded US production at its Florida leatherleaf farms: Uniflora, Holiday Foliage, and Heidia.
In 1986, John Knight, after graduating from the University of Central Florida, joined the team as vice president and general manager in charge of logistics and expansion. Mr. Knight established distribution offices in Dallas and Miami, and he managed the existing New Jersey office. He expanded imports of Chamaedorea palms from Mexico and Belize for the American and European markets. In addition, he managed the leatherleaf and other cut decorative farms in Florida. In 2002, Diane Knight-Cummins purchased Uniflora Overseas Florida, Inc. from Fritz Tempelhof, becoming the sole owner.
During the 2004 Labor Day weekend, Hurricane Francis devastated the Florida farms, downing trees in the hammocks and ripping apart the saran and steel structures. Over September 25th and 26th, Hurricane Louise completed the destruction. The market price for Florida-grown leatherleaf was too low to rebuild. Costa Rican leatherleaf ferns could be imported for far below the price of Florida plants. Later, as prices increased on the markets, Uniflora Overseas began to rebuild its Florida farms.
In 2012, Johnathon Knight made Uniflora a three-generation family business by becoming vice president in charge of product procurement, growing expansion, shipping, quality control, and design. With the resilience of the family, and together with the support from Diane’s husband, Norman Cummins, the company never closed its doors and continues to grow.