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Tim Howell: Raising Industry Standards

Sharing a common goal to raise industry standards says Tim Howell will increase its value and attract ongoing investment into the horticulture and landscaping sector.


There is no better place to demonstrate the diversity of the horticultural sector than at a trade event that brings together both suppliers and contractors, events that allow us to showcase the best that we can offer, to encourage others to join with us and to have a conversation – to collaborate.

At the last Futurescape event, in November last year, I was invited to take part in The Pro Landscaper Summit and joined a panel of experts including suppliers, designers, client representatives and contractors. The diversity of roles within the panel was quite extreme and, I have to admit, I initially questioned the value of being on the panel. However, it quickly became clear to me that the amount of common ground between us all was much larger than I had thought. We shared the same concerns and similar aspirations regardless of the size of our businesses – and it’s the same throughout the industry.

The positive messages and conversations during the event got me thinking – just because we are competitors at a business level does not mean that we cannot collaborate at an industry level. As we all know there is strength in numbers, and the numbers highlighted in The Economic Impact of Ornamental Horticulture and Landscaping in the UK (October 2018), the report produced for the Ornamental Horticultural Round Table Group, show the huge benefits that horticulture delivers to the UK economy are substantial. A £24.2bn GDP footprint, supporting over 500,000 jobs carries a lot of weight. All this means we should get sustained and regular attention from our supply chain, industry associations and other supporting bodies.

Our industry trade associations champion quality and expertise with annual award ceremonies allowing us to showcase the best of what we can deliver. I’d like to see this developed with self-imposed industry standards set not only for quality, but also to focus on our people, safety, training and development, environment and sustainability. Standards that inspire people to continually improve. Standards that attract people to our industry and standards that reassure potential customers what to expect.

The higher the standards, the more value will be created leading to a greater opportunity to invest more into the industry. Underselling services to win work adds no value to anyone but detracts from the value of our industry and the amount that can be reinvested. I’m all for delivering high efficiency and innovation that allows us to offer the best price to customers and for ensuring that we work closely with our supply chain to ensure we can offer the best value, that business and healthy competition is beneficial.

I don’t want a race to the bottom, underselling our services, I want a race to the top. I’m raising the bar in my business again, with more investment in customer-focused delivery, and more investment in the resources required to support this. I’m looking for suppliers who will innovate and change the way we work and support our people so that we can deliver the best that we can in everything that we do. I want to continually strive to have the best health and safety statistics, the best service standards, and the highest environmental credentials.

I want everyone in the industry to join me; competitors, suppliers, colleagues. If we continually challenge each other to deliver more the industry will be so much better for it! We’re one strong industry, let’s raise the bar as one and enjoy the benefits in the future.

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