In the final instalment of our two-part blog post dedicated to our 20 Year Anniversary we revisit two decades of highlights and explore our plans for the future.
Recognised as the UK’s leading authority for practical solutions in developing wildflower spaces, we’ve put our MD, James Hewetson-Brown, in the hot-seat and asked him to share some of his highlights from the past 20 years as well as delving into his thoughts on the future of the industry.
James, what are some of your more notable moments over the past 20 years?
Supplying over 60,000m² of Wildflower Turf® to the London 2012 Olympics was a very proud moment, both personally and for the wider team. Likewise, our involvement with the post-Games transformation of the site in Stratford to benefit nature has been a key highlight.
Most recently, the purchase and establishment of our third production site, in Shropshire, has been significant. This has been an enormous undertaking and one that will greatly benefit our business with the additional capacity that is currently being realised.
In short, during the past 20 years I have had the pleasure of watching the business grow and thrive. It is an honour to work alongside an invested and skilled team of colleagues who value, and are committed to, the beneficial work we are doing towards wildlife improvement. From humble beginnings with a team of five, Wildflower Turf Ltd now employs over 30 permanent staff and we look forward to continuing to grow and expand.
There have been many achievements over the course of the past 20 years, but what has really stood out?
Working to ensure that our wildflowers establish incredibly well (risk-free and guaranteed) and understanding how to ensure the habitat lasts forever has been a key undertaking. Today, Wildflower Turf Ltd is recognised as being the UK’s most prominent Wildflower Meadow experts and we will continue to strive to push boundaries. Setting up a dedicated R&D department to continue to improve establishment methods and products for wildflower spaces has been key to the company’s progress.
Every business experience challenges. What has kept you up at night?
Our biggest challenge has been developing a unique concept and turning it into a scalable product. We have, in the past, experienced demand greater than what we have been able to supply. However, the additional capacity supplied by our new site in Shropshire should ensure that we will always have adequate stock to hand.
A secondary challenge has been the ability to find engineering geniuses capable of building the unique equipment we require – please apply if interested!
What is the next logical evolution within the UK wildflower industry?
Establishing species-rich habitats is here to stay. As a nation it is imperative that we look after our biodiversity – too much depends on it for us not to take the threat to biodiversity seriously.
In the UK, establishing wildflower meadows is one of the best ways to improve biodiversity and more and more people now understand the importance of this species rich habitat. Biodiversity Net Gain (BNG) is a regulatory initiative that recognises this requirement and legislates for it. BNG is comprised of a 30-year commitment and this, along with people’s recognition of the value of natural habitats, means that industries involved with nature have a positive future.
The next logical evolution is to see this habitat established on every inch of spare soil! In practical terms, this means all road verges, road and rail embankments and any space that is not needed for amenity grass, trees, ponds or hedges should be devoted to wildflower spaces.
Looking forward, what are the plans for the future?
Wildflower Turf Ltd will continue to provide a complete service that reliably establishes wildflower habitat through training, products, consultancy and on-going research.
We will also focus on continuing to communicate the benefits that wildflower habitats provide. They are easy to establish and by doing so, people make a generous donation to nature. Help nature to help us!
And finally, what advice would you give to your younger self?
We wish we could have foreseen just how committed society would become to helping nature – this would have given us the confidence to have pushed our targets harder, earlier.
Finding business mentors is something we came a little late to, and early advice on this would have helped us with the speed of development in the early days.
Finally, it is important to accept that good and sustainable business growth and development takes a bit of time so ENJOY the journey.