MILLENNIAL ZONE 021: FLOWER NUMBERS

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Previously on Mellinnial zone; https://andrewismme.wordpress.com/2018/10/12/platte-land-020-entanglement/

The Finance office was located at the farthest left corner of the main administration block. It’s immediate opposite and twice the Accounts department would be the spacious Sales section where F.M’s colleagues would burn their fingers replying emails regarding confirmation of orders and refreshing the company sales portal site to book more orders and check stock avails (stock levels). Sandwiched between these two offices would be a corridor planted right in, leading its way to a fat hard wooden staircase rising to more offices upstairs. Speaking of offices, Finance department was a highly regarded one. As a matter of fact, it came with its equal share of ego and oomph. And basking at the heart of the warm glow would be none other than one – Mr. F.M.

 First inside, you’ll be met by the Business Daily newspaper, a square-shaped yellow stick note, a pen holder, his car keys, a tray of unattended documents and a black, gigantic calculator that normally sees the wrath of his fingers, on a daily basis. Behind his rotating black leather chair would be the long laced flappy curtains overlooking an open field that routinely comes in handy during lunch hour break, since office souls usually lay their bodies on the soft grass ready to absorb the lunchtime sunlight, ritually as they catch a breather.

In the meantime…

F.M was busy perusing the management reports prior to presenting them to the board of directors of Kirurumo Floralife Ltd, a firm established three decades ago located on the expansive Naivasha green lands on the southland shores of Lake Naivasha. How it started was rather interesting since its founder, father to the current GM, obviously at a younger age was dumped by his girlfriend for visiting her in hospital without a bunch of flowers. She had been raised in a family where flower surprises meant authentic love and real appreciation. The breakup was so dire that it triggered a passion that gave birth to Kirurumo Floralife. The now 45-hectare firm overlooks the thick papyrus natural forest home to rich bird and wildlife thanks to its founder who incidentally passed on two years ago.

This was a highly anticipated meeting that came hot, on the hills of a high season regarded as so, due to the high demand for flowers during Valentine and Europe Mother’s day. Normally, from mid-January to the late April, builds up to the highest epitome of the flower industry.

In the Financial language, the turnover breaks the ceiling as the margins surge forward. In simpler terms, the numbers smell and look beautiful. To guys in production, they talk of high stems volumes harvested or rather the soaring number of boxes shipped. To pack house teams, the weary of grading the stems up to the chilly hours of midnight clearly maps their faces in anticipation of a thank you note. To men and women in the greenhouses who toil hard to meet their targets working for over 12 hours, usually is a season they detest most, nevertheless.

Therefore, if the numbers are impressive, meaning the firm meets the clients’ demands while registering minimal rejections if any out of quality issues, then there is always a reason to expect a fatty bonus from Management. That being so, F.M had a hectic fortnight, punching the numbers and ensuring every order was followed with a timely invoice, as well as managing the Receivables and liaising with the Sales department in approving clients’ orders. This meant leaving the office sometimes after the evening news while reporting before the dew melted from the grass.

Shiku would bear the heaviest blow around this season since F.M rarely picked her calls leave alone returning them back. She didn’t care a thing about the so-called Valentine season. How would she, when she was a loner in the season of love? F.M had been increasingly unavailable and unreachable. In actual sense, she found herself left with very few options.

Meanwhile…

F.M was holed to a three-hour meeting with his boss, Sir George a big kahuna in the horticultural industry if you may and the GM – Kirurumo Floralife. Also present, was his wife a no-nonsense Chief Commercial Manager whose task largely entailed sourcing and engaging clients on the firm’s wide range of alstroemeria and carnation flower crops. Her other duties were luring off new clients and markets by attending flower shows across the world from Moscow to Amsterdam, to Guangzhou, London and Berlin which formed their lead markets.

But there was Ms. Campbell, the daughter to the powerful couple otherwise referred us the – heiress if not dad’s heartthrob. She was a down to earth and go-getter young lady in her mid-twenties who had no clear role in the firm other than a company director, besides being fully engaged in running her tour business – Syokimau Safaris. Nevertheless, she was keen on Kirurumo Floralife books though, and arguably seemed like the clear inheritor of the firm in posterity. She was a guru in management, a time stickler who possessed an amiable character.

She would easily cultivate a pep talk with almost anyone from the security guard patrolling the perimeter wall clinging on the walkie-talkie like all his life depended on it. Equally, she would be spotted with the lead company electric officer in his sky blue overall flapped by his tool bag, a tall dude with a Nyeri accent. They’d engage in a simple talk as she headed to another area code holding briefs with a greenhouse supervisor donned in a brown apron that signified seniority, unlike the green ones.

Her sophistication was in her simple demeanor that extended to her dressing code too. Mostly spotted in sweat tops that would easily make her bra easy to decode, coupled with her trademark – printed summer pants usually with an elastic waistline. Her tiny enviable tummy was spot on when dressed in harem pants that she loved pocketing especially when holding outdoor conversations.

Ms. Campbell had maintained quite a cordial friendship with Mr.FM over the years fundamentally because they were millennials with common interests such as harboring passions in entrepreneurship. Mr. F.M would act as an unofficial financial advisor to Syokimau Safaris which was too dear to Ms. Campbell more often than not referring to it as her DNA. F.M would offer consultancy in tax matters since Campbell was vague in Kenya’s tax laws as she should complain they were too complex and erratic.

But she would be forgiven though since she schooled abroad right from elementary classes to postgraduate. He would also advise about the general company performance based on her financial books run separately by her team of accountants. Out of this, they seemed to carve out a rich relationship. On the flip side, when Ms. Campbell travelled abroad which she did so religiously she would surprise Mr. F.M with trendy hi-tech gifts especially the latest iPhones and MacBook’s products. She’d also spoil F.M kids with high-end UK toys. 

Back to the boardroom meeting…

Mr. F.M would walk them through the management reports as the board followed attentively, making notes and punching holes to his presentation which would ostensibly slow him and have to address the popping questions before proceeding further. Many a time, he wouldn’t button up his collar button as it would be sealed off by his ties, mostly adjusted in such times when he prepared to make his points.

He would scroll down his laptop, peep at his notebook and finally look up to address his keen looking audience. In most cases, they would comb the budget against the actuals, while not losing track of previous year performance. Ratios and margins would be squeezed analytically to make sense. The attendants would be in their reading glasses and glasses of water to make life easier in those board rooms. Sometimes there would be silence in the room, the only disturbance left to the wall clock hedged across the room.

Tell me Mr. F.M: I can see our gross margins have dropped by 5% based on last year’s actuals what triggered this?

Ms. Campbell, remember Covid 19 has just started spreading out of China to Europe which is our largest consumer market. The pandemic has slowed down the economy in these markets since everyone is not only apprehensive but spending less on luxury while stocking food and other essentials as lockdowns loom.  Valentine season was intact but Europe’s mother’s day season has been partially inconvenienced, for now, hence the slight drop in our gross margins.

The meeting was concluded on a high note having declared an eagerly awaited bonus package to all staff regardless of the posing risk from Covid 19.

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