Petal to the metal for this family business

By Jason Meyers

When S. Roy Sheffield started carting flowers around Chicago in 1932, local growers paid him in flowers instead of cash. So he bundled his bounty into bouquets and sold them on the corner of Ashland and Addison for a quarter.

Over nearly 90 years, the Sheffield family’s Ashland Addison Florist Co. blossomed. Fourth-generation Justin Sheffield now oversees a sprawling design, shipping and receiving facility in Chicago’s Near West Side, along with five retail locations around the city.

Sheffield joined the business in 2009 after earning an engineering degree and working at Caterpillar for two years, and became president when his father retired in 2015. For him, family is an important motivator for success. “Part of it is honoring our family's legacy and all the hard work of my father, grandfather, and great-grandfather,” Sheffield says. 

The COVID-19 pandemic caused the company’s wedding and graduation business to wilt, and Ashland Addison temporarily shuttered lucrative locations at Northwestern Memorial Hospital and Rush University Medical Center. Despite those setbacks, Sheffield’s outlook remains… well, rosy.

“We've been steadily growing all the avenues of the business,” he says. “Consumer demand in green plants has been strong, and we have some room to grow there, so we are going to work on that this summer.”

Jason Meyers is a freelance writer based in Chicago. His beat is technology and entrepreneurship.

July/August 2021

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