Pro Landscaper Interview with Wayne Grills – Chief Operations Officer BALI
What are your thoughts about your first year?
My first year at BALI has gone so quickly. When I took up the role of Chief Operations Officer I had underestimated the phenomenal amount of work that the BALI team get through! I must congratulate and thank them all as they have been extremely supportive and have helped the Association to move forward greatly. We plan to keep BALI progressing in the right direction so that members feel the benefit of all our work.
What feedback have you received on your meetings with members, and what are their views on BALI?
I have met around 240 BALI members over the last year at various meetings. Some members felt that BALI could do so much more for them but I am pleased to report that in the last 4 to 5 months feedback has been positive. I am very grateful to all those that I have met along the way so far, for being so welcoming and keen to work with me to ensure we are providing for our members’ needs. Members attending BALI meetings and events find the networking is fantastic, and I would urge them to take part in both the regional and national opportunities that arise.
Has membership grown?
It has grown over the last twelve months but my biggest concern is for the members that have had to lapse their membership for one reason or another. This year the attrition rate for member companies who have gone into liquidation or administration has been particularly worrying. This is a saddening sign of the impact of the current economic climate. BALI’s role at times like these is in supporting members and facilitating opportunities for them to benefit from colleague referrals and joint working relationships.
Have your views on the industry changed?
I believe that we are working in a fantastic industry. The camaraderie is excellent and everyone that I have had the pleasure of meeting (whether BALI member or not) has a common goal of wanting it to progress and be seen and perceived as a professional industry delivering quality projects and schemes.
What have been your main challenges?
Two of my main challenges have been, and continue to be, getting members to feedback and understand the membership potential. We are now beginning to get very constructive feedback that will help shape the association for the future. As far as understanding the membership potential is concerned, we have commissioned market research that will help us to gauge what potential members would look to gain from membership of an association. We’ll be asking the same question of lapsed BALI members too. We have to be sure that what we’re offering is what they need and not what we think they need.
What are the success stories?
The biggest success story to celebrate this year is the contribution of BALI members to the construction of the amazing Olympic Park and other Olympic venues around the country. BALI is well represented amongst the landscape construction companies working in the park and the many product suppliers whose materials have created it. I am proud that BALI’s contribution has paved the way for our members to be involved in its construction and maintaining its legacy.
The BALI Show 2011 was a huge success, with over 1200 visitors and great feedback; the 2012 event this June is already promising to be even better.
Of course, the superb BALI National Landscape Awards in December 2011, provided a great opportunity to celebrate the quality and excellence that this fantastic industry achieves. And now that we’re in our 40th year as an association, we will celebrate BALI’s success at a gala dinner on 19th June.
2011/12 has seen BALI working collaboratively with other industry associations for the good of the wider industry. The most recent example is the frustrating drought situation and the range of associations that have come together to form one industry voice.
BALI has also been in talks with the NCF (National Contractors Forum) resulting in the two organisations agreeing to work together. The BALI Show will see the official launch of the new BALI-NCF partnership.
BALI has rejoined the All Party Parliamentary Gardening and Horticulture Group (APPGHG) and also, as the UK landscape industry’s representative body within the European Landscape Contractors Association (ECLA) – it is uniquely placed to act as a conduit between the European and UK industries and lobby the UK government on issues that affect our members. Our presence within ELCA also gives us access to lobby the European Parliament on EU Directives.
What are BALI’s future plans, short and long term?
The BALI Strategic Plan covers a five year rolling period – as we achieve one objective another takes its place so it is constantly being updated. In the short to medium term our plans revolve around retaining our existing membership and attracting new members by making sure that we are delivering the right package of benefits and support. We will also be actively promoting the BALI brand and the quality message that underpins it to the consumer whilst ensuring that our members in the public and commercial sectors have the very best chance of being invited to tender for major works.
Have you set targets to grow membership?
Yes, but once we have completed our market research we will have a better understanding of how realistic and achievable those targets are. It will also identify how best to reach that market in the future.
Where do you think BALI can grow its influence?
I believe BALI is already influencing decision making in the UK at central government level in collaboration with other industry bodies, and in Europe through its ELCA membership. However, we have much to do at local government level to ensure that BALI Registered contractors are recognised for their professionalism and commitment to safe working and staff training. With the introduction and vigorous promotion of so many accreditations – CHAS, SafeContractor, ISO 9001, NHSS 18 etc – the criteria for achieving BALI Registered status have perhaps been overshadowed. This is definitely something we must address.
Do you hope to grow your events/awards and increase members’ interaction?
Absolutely. The BALI Awards are a fantastic opportunity for BALI contractors and designers to achieve recognition for professional excellence. Winning an award has an immediate positive effect on a business, acting as an amazing marketing tool and boosting the morale of those working in the winning business. The Awards ceremony is a unique opportunity to network with the great and the good of the industry and experience the outstanding levels of achievement.
What plans do you have to increase the value of BALI to its members?
We strive to ensure that we are listening and where possible responding to our customers’ needs.
The BALI Show
Exhibitors at the BALI Show 2012 will be showcasing an impressive range of products and services aimed specifically at landscapers, specifiers and designers. There will be an informative seminar programme and in addition, this year we have the new contractors’ zone, as well as the heats of the WorldSkills UK Landscape Gardening Competition. I would encourage everyone in the industry to come and visit as it promises to be a great event.
What do BALI hope to achieve from the show?
BALI’s aim is to bring the industry together to learn about new products, techniques and services. Specifiers will be able to discuss projects with designers and contractors and identify those that might deliver the scheme they need, and contractors and designers in turn will be able to identify business opportunities.
BALI 40th Anniversary
What are the plans?
BALI will be celebrating formally with the gala dinner on the evening of 19th June at the Chesford Grange Hotel, near Stoneleigh Park. Tickets are selling rapidly. For anyone considering joining us I would urge them to visit the BALI website at www.bali.org.uk or call Kirsty Wood on 02476 690333.
How can members get involved?
Several member companies are helping BALI celebrate by sponsoring the gala dinner and we thank them for their support. We hope our members will celebrate with us at what promises to be a wonderful evening and will undoubtedly compare notes and anecdotes in between enjoying a fabulous meal and dancing. It will be a night to remember!