How did you get started in the industry?
My father started Darlac in 1963, importing innovative floral art products from around the world. In 1979, Maggie and I bought a small UK-based tool company. This gradually eclipsed the floristry side of the business and in 1995 we decided to launch our own brand with just six products. Our range now extends to well over 200 diverse products and is growing steadily.
What advice would you give to other starting out?
There is a good career and living to be made from all branches of horticulture if you are prepared to work hard. The crucial thing is the quality of your product and/or the service you provide. If you can get these two right and learn your craft well, you will succeed.
What is the best aspect of your job?
The adrenaline rush that comes with discovering or creating a new product and getting it right. Exhibiting at the top flower shows and creating brand awareness is very rewarding too. There is nothing better than talking with real gardeners to ascertain what they want and to build a product range based on feedback.
What does 2012 hold for the garden industry?
These recessionary times present a unique opportunity to the industry to promote gardening as a satisfying, healthy and rewarding pastime that will not hit your pocket hard. Add to this the current enthusiasm for grow your own and we have a captive market. It can be a win-win situation.
What does the future hold for you as a business?
Since 1995, Darlac has managed to increase its sales year-on-year. Every year the graph climbs a little steeper with our sales last year showing a 16 per cent increase over the previous year. For the 2012 season we are on course to launch the largest number of new products to date.