Friday, April 30, 2004

From winner's circle to flowers from Kroger

Derby embossing firm coming here

By Randy Tucker
The Cincinnati Enquirer

The 130th annual Run for the Roses this weekend in Louisville has a Cincinnati connection for a Utah company that specializes in embossing flowers.

Speaking Roses International Inc. is planning to open a sales office and printing facility here after teaming with Cincinnati-based Kroger Co. to produce roses for the winner's circle at the Kentucky Derby on Saturday.

Speaking Roses, which owns a patented embossing technology, will inscribe the Derby logo and race number on 72 roses provided for the winner's circle urns by Kroger.

Kroger is the nation's largest florist and has a licensing agreement with Churchill Downs to supply the flowers.

"With the Derby's longstanding love of roses, it seemed a natural fit for our company to provide the first-ever rose with an embossed logo," said Blaine Harris, president and CEO of Speaking Roses.

After working with Kroger, locating in Cincinnati also seemed like a natural fit, said company spokesman Joe Featherstone.

"We'll be opening a sales office in Cincinnati within the next 60 days. We're planning to open offices in every major city where we can find a local manufacturer so we can have same-day service," he said. "Right now, if you wanted to order embossed flowers from us you'd have to wait for overnight delivery."

The company said it is working to recruit sales staff and establish printing facilities in Louisville and Lexington.


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