Landscape contractors highlight boost to reputation

Although too early to point to contract wins, landscape contractors agree presence at Chelsea is a tangible selling point.

Chelsea: landscape contractors - image: HW
Chelsea: landscape contractors - image: HW

Landscape contractors who built award-winning gardens at this year's RHS Chelsea Flower Show say the boost to their reputation and the potential to win new work through networking have been priceless.

While most contractors have said it is too early to point to contract wins through the show, they agree that taking part is a tangible selling point clients love.

Managing director of double Gold Medal-winning Landform Consultants Mark Gregory said: "I love the kudos of working at the most prestigious flower show in the world. For us it benchmarks who we are."

He added that networking is a big draw with the potential of two "really big commissions" this year through talking with designers.

Willerby Landscapes contracts director John Melmoe said the team is "absolutely over the moon" at winning two Gold Medals and he praised construction manager Matt Ainscow for his dedication and skill.

Melmoe said it is often hard to see a direct link between new work and show success because landscape projects have long gestation periods. But he added: "We have some fantastic projects that have come about directly from being associated with Chelsea over seven years.

"The response has been tremendous. It's more about opportunity and keeping it in the front of clients' minds."

Another long-term Chelsea participant, The Outdoor Room, took home a silver flora. Company owner David Dodd said: "All the contractors do pretty well out of Chelsea. It's good for prestige and reputation. You're known for being able to build a garden to Chelsea standards and quality.

He added: "There's no better show and although it's the designers who get all the credit for it, there's no better way to exhibit your craft. It's usually later on that the dust settles a little and then the orders roll in."

Chelsea contractors - Recipe for success

To be a successful Chelsea contractor you need to be good at planning, logistics, working close to other teams and adapting to a changeable environment, according to Landform Consultants managing director Mark Gregory.

He added that he plans for failure to ensure success. "You think what's the worst that could happen and then you make a get out of jail card."

Willerby Landscapes contracts director John Melmoe said it is important to fix the design early to avoid "design creep." The firm prefabricates structures off-site.

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