An international career in the floral industry


Mitch Rubner, grandson of Arletta Hankes of rural Millville, is in China pursuing a career in the floral industry. Above, he attended the China import and export fair, among the largest trade show in the world. (Photo submitted)

  By Shelia Tomkins

A career in the floral industry has taken a Colorado man half-way round to world to China, where he is employed in product development for makers of permanent floral displays.

Mitch Rubner has numerous relatives in Northeast Iowa, including his father, Kevin Rubner of Manchester. His grandparents are Arletta Hankes of rural Millville, the late James Hankes, and Joe and Jean Rubner of Dyersville.

Mitch is following in the footsteps of his mother, Lisa Hankes Weddell, who now lives in Highlands Ranch, Colo. Lisa has enjoyed a successful career in the fresh floral industry, specializing in high-end wedding and event design. She has also been a part of Rose Bowl parade float floral design teams for more than a dozen years.

Mitch's stay in China came at the invitation of Dongguan Creative Accents Craft and Decoration Ltd. His job with the firm includes travel to other factories owned by the company in places such as Shanghai, Beijing, Shenyang, Qingdoa, and others. He attends business meetings with the firm's major customers in Hong Kong, requiring frequent travel to and from China.

His role is in product development, working on designs for floral holiday pieces that American shoppers see in well-known stores.

The process begins when a company team develops concepts after they are given the current trends in color and themes. "Mitch sketches his ideas and takes them to his team. They take it from the sketch to an actual piece for Mitch to tweak," says his mother. "The next step is producing the item to take to Hong Kong for their display showroom. International companies come there to place orders for the following year.  There are several factories that show their products and these companies order from what they see."

"He called recently to say how excited he was that several of his Christmas wreaths were chosen as part of a whole order from a large company," said his mother. 

Since arriving in China last August, Mitch has returned home only once, during the Chinese New Year. He plans a brief visit to the States again in June.

"He hopes to stay and loves it there.  He loves shopping in Hong Kong and is picking up the Mandarin Chinese language," she said. He is hoping to attend a local college to learn to speak and write the language better.

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