Alumni Profiles, News

Being All He Can Be

Major D.W. Janszky
Major D.W. Janszky

Before he was a military officer, and before he was the owner of Haddonfield Floral Company, Major D.W. Janszky was a young Rutgers–Camden graduate.

A native of Pittsgrove, New Jersey, Janszky finished his master’s degree in business finance in July 2001 and immediately started seeking jobs with banks, contractors, “anybody and everybody,” he says. He had his first interview scheduled for September 12, 2001. Then came the 9/11 attacks.

In the months that followed, businesses were slow to hire, and to keep busy and stay in shape while he sent out résumés, Janszky began delivering flowers. He soon became friendly with a floral designer, Kathy Dallman, and they joked about going into business together. Early in 2003, the joke turned serious. Janszky bought Haddonfield Floral—one of the longest-running businesses on the town’s historic commercial corridor—with Dallman as its lead designer.

“I said, [a business career doesn’t] look like it will happen, and I just want to be engaged professionally,” Janszky says. “So I made that leap.”

Over the last two decades, Janszky has grown the business while weathering dramatic changes in the floral industry and growing in his own military career, which has included frequent deployments to battle zones overseas and disaster zones in the United States.

Today, Janszky is both a business owner and a Civil Affairs Company Commander in the U.S. Army Reserve. Below, he shares a bit more about how his twin careers have blossomed—thanks, in many ways, to Rutgers—and how he is supporting his country and his college.

A Path to Service

Janszky’s family roots in South Jersey go back generations. He is a member of the Sons of the American Revolution—his grandmother and great aunt were in the Daughters of the American Revolution—and he had an interest in military service from the time he was young. His father, Charles, was an enlisted Marine between 1959 and 1963, and his grandfather, James, was enlisted with the U. S. Army Air Corps during World War II.

His path to the Army was unusual, though. After being unable to enroll in Officer Candidate School in 2002 because he was over the age limit, he tried again in 2005. With wars intensifying in the Middle East, his age was no longer an issue. So, at 34, Janszky completed basic training and enlisted in the Army National Guard.

“Like all good organizations, they have their rules until the rules have to be massaged,” he says.

Janszky had stayed in good physical shape since his athletic school days, and that discipline paid off through numerous deployments. That includes tours in Iraq in 2008 and 2009 and Afghanistan in 2012 and 2014, as well as exercises in Serbia, Africa, and Germany more recently.

Even with all the far-flung deployments, Janszky says one of his most intense experiences was the one closest to home: being part of the recovery effort following Superstorm Sandy in 2012. In its aftermath, Janszky—as a task force commander stationed in the Brick Township municipality building—was responsible for maintaining the security of the New Jersey barrier islands, where there had been ongoing looting and property destruction. He helped set up the largest shelter in the state at Monmouth University, and he helped approve contractors for the recovery effort, collaborating with the U.S. Coast Guard, FEMA, the Red Cross, and other groups.

“While that may not sound like much, compared to Iraq or Afghanistan, that was a few months of very treacherous times,” he says. “It was—this is not an exaggeration—24 hours a day, 7 days a week, and I was deployed for 72 days.”

A Blooming Business

All the while, Janszky has continued to operate his flower shop, despite it being a tumultuous era for brick-and-mortar retail—especially the floral business. Flower shops share similarities with restaurants, including low profit margins, perishable supplies, and a need for talented staff, all of which have been made more challenging since the start of the pandemic.

Janszky credits Dallman for bringing back repeat customers and the Haddonfield community for their “shop local” commitment. He adds that, over the years, he has leaned heavily on his team, especially during deployments, to keep the shop running from day to day. Their hard work, he adds, amounts to its own sort of patriotic sacrifice, because it allowed him to serve his country.

Among its many successes, Haddonfield Floral was an exhibitor at the Philadelphia Flower Show for several years in the early 2000s, and since a few years ago, with the Philadelphia Ballet.

Janszky says the shop got a cold call from an administrator with the Ballet (then known as the Pennsylvania Ballet) who had received a bouquet from Haddonfield Floral. The person wanted to know if the shop could provide flowers for the Ballet’s opening night. That gig developed into a long-term relationship, and Haddonfield Floral is now the Official Opening Night Florist of the Philadelphia Ballet. It’s recognition and support like that that has kept Janszky in the business, even as the industry continues to evolve.

“I’ve invested a lot of time emotionally, psychologically, financially—everything,” he says. “[The community support] means a lot to me—and my employees mean a lot to me.”

Moving Ahead, Giving Back

Janszky has continued his deployments, including a recent trip to the Netherlands as part of NATO’s Civil-Military Cooperation Centre of Excellence program. He has also been an active volunteer with the Veteran Alumni of Rutgers University, a chartered organization of the Rutgers University Alumni Association, and served as its treasurer from 2018-2020. And his company has supplied flowers for Rutgers–Camden commencement ceremonies since 2008. Recently, Janszky volunteered as a control-group member for a Rutgers Equine Science Center study of post-traumatic stress disorder among military veterans.

Not one to rest on his laurels, Janszky says there is much more he wants to accomplish, especially in his military career. “I’ve got my own sets of goals, rational and irrational, that I want to entertain,” he says. “I want to continue to achieve.”

Given his past history, it’s a good bet those dreams will come to fruition.