Over the years, Dwight Larimer has been a member of the American Academy of Floriculture (AAF) and the Professional Floral Communicators – International (PFCI), and has served as President of Design Master Color Tool, Inc. in Boulder, CO, and on the Board of Directors for the American Floral Endowment. Recently, he added a new achievement when he was inducted into the Society of American Florists’ (SAF) Floriculture Hall of Fame. The announcement took place during an awards dinner at the association’s 132nd Annual Convention in Maui, HI, on September 24.
“The Floriculture Hall of Fame is truly the floral industry’s highest achievement,” said SAF Awards Committee member Lori Wheat, AAF, of Lafayette Florist, Gift Shop & Garden Center in Lafayette, CO, during the presentation. “Being chosen for this prestigious honor means that the recipient has made a permanent and significant contribution to the advancement of floriculture. Dwight’s name is linked with powerful words like leadership, vision, commitment, and integrity. He is synonymous with a company known in all quarters of the floral industry. Under his direction, Design Master has transformed the industry’s thinking about color.”
Born and raised in Rochester, NY, Larimer attended the State University of New York at Albany. Following his graduation, Larimer began his career in the industry in Berlin, NY, at W.J. Cowee, a firm specializing in the manufacturing of wooden floral picks and plant stakes.
In 1983, Larimer joined Colorado Dye and Chemical — the forerunner of Design Master Color Tool — and moved to Boulder. Using his business acumen and leadership skills, he immersed himself in the psychology of color and color trends and learned unique ways that color can be used by creative professionals in the floral and craft industries. He became president of Design Master in 1990 and still holds that position today.
Design Master’s “Just for Flowers” line of aerosols allowed retailers to achieve nearly any look they wanted — through paint — even if a specific color of flower was not available. This helped florists meet customers’ needs in a cost-effective way.
Larimer was also instrumental in developing the Color Concepts program, partnering with other suppliers to market complementary products in similar colors — a merchandising breakthrough that was ultimately profitable for both wholesaler and supplier. His initiative helped Design Master change retail florists’ thinking about the use of color with a variety of breakthrough products.
While Larimer has taken the company far during his career, he’s done so in an environmentally responsible way. He took steps early on to produce aerosols without CFC propellants, package sprays in recycled cans, abide by stringent air quality production standards, and follow all environmental regulations in manufacturing, packaging, and distribution.
Larimer has played an influential role in SAF as a volunteer leader for more than 30 years. He has served as a committee, council, and board member and most recently as SAF’s treasurer for six years. He also led SAF though two major structural reorganizations that helped the association better serve its members and the industry. In addition, Larimer’s work as chair of an SAF task force resulted in the sale of the SAF headquarters building and the purchase of smaller, more efficient office space for SAF staff.
Larimer is chiefly a marketer, and under his leadership, Design Master Color Tool has been the first and only sponsor of SAF’s Floral Management Marketer of the Year Award. His belief in making sure retail florists have access to the best and most effective marketing ideas in the industry led him to give more than $100,000 in prize money for that award over the last 20 years.
He is the current chairman-elect of the American Floral Endowment and has been involved in local and state organizations where he has built lasting relationships to help those organizations advance floriculture.
As a volunteer, Larimer has spent untold hours working for the good of the industry. This is especially evident in his embrace of SAF’s annual legislative conference, Congressional Acton Days. His efforts meeting with members of Congress and their staffs to discuss issues of importance, delivered a powerful message of the value and importance of small and family-owned businesses to the U.S. economy.
“For all of Dwight’s business success, for all of the value he has brought to industry trade associations, for all of the sage advice he has given on countless stages literally around the world, Dwight is most often referred to as a friend — one full of integrity, wisdom, foresight, and just plain good sense,” Wheat said.