Can you tell us a bit about your background – your early years in the industry, experience etc? How did you get started?
My introduction to the industry started by collecting bush rock after school in the late 1970s. My first jobs were with Five Dock Landscapes and Nock & Kirby.
I was then offered an apprenticeship with Sunset Landscapes in Glenhaven on a salary package of $36 per week. After two years with Sunset Landscapes I was promoted to assistant foreman on high-profile domestic projects.
Ron King, the owner of Regal Landscapes, then approached me and offered a new Holden one-tonne ute and $90 per week to be the company’s leading foreman, supervising more than 20 landscapers. Regal was the leading domestic landscaper at the time.
My two years at Regal Landscapes with Ron King was my biggest learning curve. Ron was highly qualified, with six years of university education. He was a man with terrific communication skills and was truly respected by all in the industry. Regal grew to have 80 employees, 26 utes, trucks and a fleet of 600 Melroe bobcats during my time and expanded to building houses, which had become my portfolio.
I left Regal to travel and with the hope of starting my own business on return. I started Crazy Landscapes in 1982, however, soon realised that my choice of business name was not leading towards a successful future. I changed the company name to Autumn Landscapes and traded for one year.
Regal Landscapes was put into receivership and Ron and the receivers approached me to return to Regal to assist in the winding up of their current projects. In my appointment as company manager I realised that most employees had become lazy and ineffective, and although some of these people were my best friends, they had to be let go. I retained only five employees and it took another nine months to complete the projects and wind up Regal Landscapes. At the end of the nine months I had resolved the project and debt issues and was given the opportunity to do as I wished with the Regal company.
I retained the Regal name and started a small domestic landscaping company without the building component. After four years of growth I expanded to commercial projects and developed a relationship with building companies such as Lleytons, Civil and Civic, Cordukes and the Department of Housing. My projects at the time included Forbes Street (at Woolloomooloo), Darling Harbour, Bolton Point (at Newcastle) and Sydney Airport.
Tell us about your scope of work today.
Today I enjoy larger projects such as Eden Gardens (at Lane Cove), Rouse Hill Town Centre, University of NSW, state government schools, Haig Point Rail (at Mackay) and beyond, with some works exceeding $8 million. We have projects underway and orders in place for NSW, Qld, ACT and SA. I had not imagined the industry would develop to the degree or become as professional as it has today.
What have you received from your time in this industry?
One of my greatest honours and pleasures is the friendship and unity I have experienced from the people in our industry. I uphold great respect for those who work so hard through the difficult times and those who have produced outstanding works which profile their expertise.
Who do you have to thank for your success?
I would not be where I am today nor have enjoyed the industry as I have without its support. I enjoy the loyalty and friendship of my fellow landscapers, designers and builders; the partnering and support from the Government, the building sectors and our industry association (the LNA); and most importantly, the confidence that people have had in me to complete works.
What does your role as president of Landscape NSW & ACT involve?
As current president of Landscape NSW & ACT I continually work at the unification and education of its members to advance our future as a whole. It has been an honour to hold my position and I believe the LNA now has structure, direction, industry support and true commitment, all are clearly evident. While enthusiasm is at a high it must be maintained, complacency is not a consideration and our leadership is paramount for success.
What’s your life philosophy?
I believe that in life you only get back what you put in. Honesty, integrity, generosity and kindness is a foundation. We must give in order to receive and I look forward to my continued contributions in the coming years.
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