Career profile - Production Manager, Ornamental Nursery

From planning schedules for the forthcoming season to fine-tuning crop-protection programmes, a production manager must tend to the wide-ranging needs of the nursery’s young plants. They must also successfully manage their own team, communicate with the operation’s customers and carry out a range of essential office tasks.

What is best about being a production manager for a nursery?

Stuart Murch, manager for Norwich-based hardy nursery stock producer Viking Nurseries, maintains that producing a successful crop can be a very rewarding part of the job. "You can oversee and be involved with the whole process from start to finish — from the rooted cutting to the saleable plant [and] that could take from one to three or more years," he points out. A representative for conifer specialist Golden Grove Nursery, which is based in Lincolnshire, insists that all aspects of the job are enjoyable. "I particularly enjoy the growing aspect of it. Watching the trees grow is very inspiring." Moreover, a spokesperson for Gloucestershire-based bedding plant specialist Chamberlain Nurseries has similar sentiments, saying: "Being outdoors is one of the best things about it. It’s satisfying to see the finished products and being able to work ‘in the elements’, experiencing all the different seasons."

What skills, attributes, knowledge and experience are most in demand for this role in the recruitment market at the moment — and why?

Horticultural knowledge and experience

The representative for Golden Grove Nursery notes that horticultural experience goes a long way — as does an understanding that you are growing a living product. "People don’t always look at it like that. But no plant is the same so you have to have an eye for what each one requires." The Chamberlain Nurseries spokesperson agrees that this role requires a background knowledge of growing plants, explaining that they would look for previous growing experience over specific qualifications.

Good planning

Given that planning production schedules forms a part of this role, any prospective production manager needs to have good planning capabilities — in addition to plant knowledge, of course.

Communications skills

Production managers must allocate various tasks to members of their team so the ability to communicate with employees is also imperative, say both Golden Grove Nursery and Viking Nurseries’ Murch, who adds that a production manager must also cope well under pressure.

A love of the outdoors

The representative for Golden Grove Nursery asserts that "you need to be outdoorsy — there’s no getting away from it", explaining: "This role is hard work and trees [and plants] don’t stop growing when the weather changes."

What sort of qualifications and experience would you need to see from a candidate to be convinced that they possess these qualities?

The Chamberlain Nurseries spokesperson points out that they would look for someone with a background in growing either ornamentals or fresh-produce crops. Golden Grove Nursery, meanwhile, would look for evidence of horticultural knowledge, gained either through years of experience and/or a horticultural qualification.

Are any of the skills that are in demand transferable from any other horticulture roles?

Chamberlain Nurseries notes that individuals with experience of commercially growing another type
of horticultural crop could potentially be a candidate for this role. However, a role such as that of a parks manager "might be a bit out of scope". Golden Grove Nursery believes that a gardener could possibly move into a production role because they would have an understanding of growing or looking after plants.


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