Australia’s Mansfields Propagation Nursery has received the Silver Rose in the prestigious International Grower of the Year Award by the International Association of Horticultural Producers (AIPH). It is the first time an Australian nursery has competed in the Awards.
Mansfields Nursery from Victoria was awarded the honour of second best in the world from among six finalists of leading nurseries from Canada, England, Italy, Netherlands and Belgium. The winner of the Gold Rose was a 400 hectare nursery from Canada.
A family-owned business, Mansfields Nursery supplies commercial nurseries and the landscaping industry with trees, shrubs, grasses and perennials.
Just being in the six world finalists is an achievement in its own right for us and this award is a wonderful recognition not only for our business but also for all the people who are committed to excellence in everything we do, said Mansfields Business Development Manager, and third generation of the family in the business, Mr Daniel Mansfield, who travelled to The Netherlands for the award announcement presentations last night.
“Our nursery was one of the smaller nurseries among the finalists so it shows to the nursery industry in Australia that a commitment to worlds best practice is achievable and profitable, no matter what size your business is”, Mr Mansfield said.
An international panel of judges acknowledged Mansfields outstanding presentation for the award at the AIPH Congress where the winners were announced. Nursery & Garden Industry Australia (NGIA) nominated Mansfields after it had won two national awards for three years running.
The International Grower of the Year Award is not just awarded for growing excellence but for business strategy and performance, innovation, professional marketing, environmental standards and social responsibility.[quote align=”center” color=”#999999″]”This is great result for an Australian nursery and Australian business because it demonstrates that we can compete with the best in the world”, the CEO of NGIA, Mr Robert Prince said today.[/quote]
“The world-class standard of Mansfields operation was reflected in their entry, so it is only fitting they were voted as one of the top two nurseries for 2012 and awarded the Silver Rose”, Mr Prince added.
It was the first time an Australian nursery has been selected as a finalist for the Award, which is presented each year by the International Association of Horticultural Producers (AIPH).
Mansfields Propagation Nursery has twice been inducted into the NGIAs Hall of Fame after winning the industrys Best Propagation Nursery title for three years from 2009-2012 and the National Training Award from 2010-2012.
The NIASA accredited and EcoHort certified nursery, located in the outer Melbourne suburb of Skye, produces 2.5 million plants a year and employs up to 45 staff.
“It is a phenomenal result. Our selection is a tribute to all the great work our staff and management team do”, Mr Mansfield added.
For the International Grower of the Year Award, Mansfields presented a comprehensive outline of their business addressing all the criteria. These included:
Over the past five years Mansfields has grown 45%, and anticipates another 10% growth this financial year. The reason for achieving and maintaining this level of growth is due to good strategic planning. Our strengths are our excellent management practices and the implementation of sound policies and production procedures, which ensure quality product time after time. All this is backed up by a solid business plan monitored regularly by an extensive set of Key Performance Indicators (KPIs). These KPIs help us keep a finger on the pulse of the business. They also allow us to control rapid growth and identify areas of the business that need attention as well as sourcing potential new emerging markets.
Australias small population spread over a large distance presents challenges in servicing the whole country, high labour costs and challenging environmental conditions means innovation is a must when operating a business of our size.
For example, we developed an 80mm bio-degradable pot that could be grown in a tray which improved the efficiency of growing and moving them, as well as improve the productivity of a landscapers planting time by 50%.
In product development we found that people wanted bird-attracting plants, but suited to small spaces. Our breeding resulted in two dwarf banksias, Birthday Candles and Cherry Candles, suited to pots, growing only to one metre high with profuse flowering to attract birds. They are suited to pots and have been a great success with consumers with small garden spaces and even apartment balconies.
As a business that operates in different market sectors, it is important that we have a wide-reaching and comprehensive marketing plan. We continue to grow our marketing presence and our ability to communicate with the broader industry. Individual sectors of the market are categorised in order to better tailor our messages to these sectors, helping us to communicate more effectively.
We communicate our messages to growers, retailers, landscapers and landscape architects, horticultural media, horticultural students and consumers. Since implementing this aspect of our marketing plan we have seen an increase in the awareness of our products across all sectors.
We strive to reduce the impact our business has on the environment and be a more sustainable business in every way. We were one of Australias first nursery businesses to be registered by
the NGIA under EcoHort, an industry specific set of guidelines and an Environmental Management System.
We have also written our own environmental policy that highlights the level of commitment we have to environmental management and sustainable business practices. We are proud that initiatives such as our water recycling system that has reduced our use of mains water by 95%, have led to numerous awards including the NGIA Environmental Award in 2009.
Through training and developing staff to the best of their abilities, we retain our key staff longer. We strive to find career opportunities for employees from within the business. Our staff turnover is minimal and company morale is extremely high.
Due to the nature of our business we have a predominately female work force. As a result of this, the highest cause for staff turnover is through pregnancy and it is only temporary. As the rate of women returning to work after pregnancy is almost 100%, we are currently investigating the opportunity of setting up an onsite child care facility which will allow them to return to work sooner, and provide them with a cheaper alternative to the current childcare options.