Since 1901, the Welke family has been “delivering flowers and happiness.” Offering highest-quality floral products has been their pleasure – and business – for five generations [image above: Third-generation owners Bill Lang (left) and Curt Lang (right) with their father Jack Lang (center)]. It began at the turn of the last century, when Emil Welke emigrated from Germany to the United States, and met his wife, Emma. Together, they opened a shop and greenhouse. Welke’s Florist & Gifts joined the FTD network in 1919 and is celebrating its 100th anniversary as a continuous member. FTD visited with fifth-generation operator Nikki Lemler to learn more about the shop’s history.
“Through FTD, we have also established many great relationships with other florists throughout the world. Through those contacts, we have been able to network, share ideas and build our business.”
Can you tell us more about Welke’s Florist & Gifts?
NL: We have two retail locations and 25 employees. Our business is quite diverse as we handle corporate events, sympathy, everyday occasions, etc. A strong commitment to community involvement has been important to our family, and I think it has helped to establish us as one of Milwaukee’s top florists. Local organizations and the community are at the core of our business, and we support as many charitable events as possible. This includes partnerships with the Vince Lombardi Cancer Foundation, Susan G. Komen Foundation, Ronald McDonald House Charities and Kiwanis organization, to name a few.
Why has your business thrived and what makes you successful?
NL: Success is an ongoing process. We continue to improve and keep up-to-date on consumer trends and styles, and make ongoing changes to our product and gift lines. We strive to go above and beyond in every step of the ordering, designing and delivery process, to ensure that our customers are receiving the best experience.
How long have you been associated with Welke’s House of Roses & Flowers?
NL: My career began as a child, when I would come into the shop to help my dad on weekends and during the holidays. After college, I returned to the floral industry to carry on our family traditions. I have been in the business for 17 years now, and enjoy continuing its legacy.
What are your thoughts on why Welke’s became an FTD-affiliated shop?
NL: We have been with FTD since 1919 – 100 years! We believe that the networking and wiring of orders is what brought my great-great-grandfather to join FTD.
How has Welke’s benefited from its 100-year partnership with FTD?
NL: The FTD Mercury technology has been very beneficial to our shop, providing an ease to the handling of our outgoing orders. The Windows-based system is easy to use and aids in training employees. Through FTD, we have also established many great relationships with other florists throughout the world. Through those contacts, we have been able to network, share ideas and build our business.
What does the future look like for Welke’s?
NL: We plan to continue growing our business and providing Milwaukee with the best service and quality flowers. We are looking to expand to a larger, centralized location that will allow us to be more efficient and productive. We also plan to continue improving our website, where we are seeing some of our strongest growth.