With so much gloom and doom in the business world, it is encouraging to discover a good news story about a business that’s is not just thriving, but expanding to involve all the family.

That’s the story with Ozbreed Pty Ltd, a family-owned turf and plant-breeding nursery at Clarendon in northwest Sydney. Although based in New South Wales, Ozbreed has an international focus that sees its plants sold around the world.

Todd Layt started out in 1991 with a turf and wholesale nursery business called Abulk. He became interested in new plant varieties and began to search for improved lawn grasses as well as better garden plants.

The breeding and discovering of improved varieties of ornamental plants is now a major focus. To develop this side of the business, Todd established Ozbreed Pty Ltd in 2003.

Ozbreed has been expanding as Todd releases more plants and increases his network of growers. Today they have relationships with 100 plant growers and 85 turf growers. Ozbreed’s current plant catalogue includes some 100 plants ranging from selected forms of native lomandras and dianella to street trees such as Tristaniopsis laurina ‘DOW10’ sold as Luscious®. Many have been bred in Australia.

“My aim is to release plants, both native and exotic species, that need less maintenance and tending and that have lower water needs, than current varieties,” explains Todd.

It has proved a winning formula and one that’s seen the business expand rapidly. As Ozbreed has grown, so has Todd’s family. Today Todd and wife Marina are thrilled to find they are working fulltime with Nathan and Katrina who are two of their three adult children.

“Our children have grown up with the business and share my passion,” says Todd. “This knowledge and passion, combined with their other work experiences, have given them the skills I need to keep the business growing.”

Both Nathan and Katrina Layt say they recognise they’ve been given a wonderful opportunity to work in a business that’s expanding its horizons. They plan to work hard – we’ve been imbued with Dad’s work ethic they add.

Facts and figures at a glance
  • Abulk Pty Ltd began in 1991 growing turf.
  • Ozbreed Pty Ltd was established in 2003 to concentrate on low-maintenance ornamental landscape plants.
  • Ozbreed has seven full-time staff including Nathan and Katrina and two part-time employees.
  • The office is based on the turf farm at Clarendon nestled between the Hawkesbury River and the Richmond Air Base.
  • Katrina, Nathan and Todd are developing a large display garden at the farm, growing many of Ozbreed’s landscape plants.
Nathan Layt
Nathan, 27 with three children of his own, took on the role of General Manager at Ozbreed earlier this year. He has taken over much of the day-to-day running of the company including managing licensing agreements with growers around Australia and overseas who grow Ozbreed plants. Todd says having Nathan as general manager has freed him up to expand their plant varieties and to look at new directions for the business. “I’ve done everything from deliveries and dispatch to the production of ornamental plants and turf,” says Nathan. He has also worked in the building industry and recently completed building his own house. His practical skills are often needed in the business whether it’s repairing farm or mowing equipment or helping to build garden beds for a plant trial. He has even converted some of the farm equipment to run on ethanol. “In a small and busy business like this,” says Nathan, “you have to turn your hand at lots of jobs.” Nathan says he is keen to see the company pursue the development of strong environmental commitments both on the farm and with the type of plants they release.
Katrina Layt
Todd’s daughter Katrina Layt is also working full-time at Ozbreed. Katrina completed her a Diploma of Horticulture in 2011 and has now taken on the mantle of Ozbreed’s Landscape Horticulturist. “I worked as a plant propagator before joining the Ozbreed office,” explains Katrina, who is now 22 and has recently become engaged. “As I was growing up I didn’t think I would be working in the family business, but I realised horticulture, plants and nurseries was where I wanted to be and it feels right,” she says. Katrina’s responsibilities include overseeing landscape and plant trials such as the recently awarded playground mulch trial and dealing with horticultural queries from the landscaper industry and others. She is also looking after the import and export of plants. “I also carry out part of our Plant Breeders Rights work and am taking on some marketing too,” she adds enthusiastically. Katrina’s twin sister, Cassandra also has a role in the business. Her graphic design training means there’s a regular job working on the company’s websites and catalogues.

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