Horticulture Week Business Award - Most Admired Business Leader

Winner - David Ball, Bridge Farm Group

Thirty-four may seem a very young age to be nominated for a Most Admired Business Leader award, yet what David Ball has achieved in a very short space of time is nothing short of amazing.

He joined his parent’s Bridge Farm Group business shortly after leaving university, making it clear that his natural route would be to manage his own business. So, with the support of his family, Neame Lea Nursery was purchased. David spent a couple of years working at the coalface before taking on the role of managing director and, more importantly, control and direction of the business.

David’s background in horticulture, coupled with his economics degree, informed his vision. Growth plans were driven from an economics perspective. British horticulture has lacked investment and fallen behind many of its EU competitors. David’s ambition was to develop an industry-leading business — well-invested, efficient and profitable.

From the original Neame Lea site, a small nursery, David started to grow the business, initially by altering the sales strategy and developing relationships with principal retail customers. He provided cost benefits for the customer while enabling Neame Lea to increase volume by using rented production sites.

In 2015, with David at the helm, the business invested £10m in a new site. Initially established as a packing facility, it quickly grew in scope into one of the most advanced ornamental production sites in the UK. The 8ha facility, complete with offices, cold stores and 4ha of sophisticated production space, would become the springboard for a further expansion of the Neame Lea business.

David led a management buyout in 2017 and secured a £30m investment from North Edge Investments. This enabled Neame Lea to purchase a 40ha greenfield site and a phased development of a 30ha glasshouse site and ancillary facilities. Phase one began operating in spring 2019. Phase two will result in the second largest covered structure in the UK.

From an initial workforce of seven full-time staff, Neame Lea now employs 165 plus additional temporary employees when required. The company’s hard-working culture comes from the top. David has an ability to inspire those around him, both management and staff.

David has taken a traditional -horticultural business and made it relevant and important in today’s fast-moving sales environment. As a business leader, he is inspirational — young, ambitious, headstrong and admired by many who recognise his ability to achieve what may have been considered impossible.

SPONSOR: GREEN-TECH

SEE ALL BUSINESS AWARDS 2019 WINNERS


Have you registered with us yet?

Register now to enjoy more articles and free email bulletins

Sign up now
Already registered?
Sign in

Read These Next

Carpinus

Carpinus

These trees are ideal for parks and gardens and many will tolerate pollution in urban areas, notes Sally Drury.

Late-flowering Clematis

Late-flowering Clematis

With stunning displays lasting until late autumn, now is an ideal time to promote these colourful gems, Sally Drury advises.

Dwarf Narcissus

Dwarf Narcissus

These well-loved flowers can help to sustain passion for growing that built up during lockdown, Sally Drury suggests.


Plant buyer only looking for local stock is a one-dimensional answer to the plant health problem

Plant buyer only looking for local stock is a one-dimensional answer to the plant health problem

Graham Richardson, group MD at Johnsons of Whixley, has responded to the Tree Council's Jon Stokes, who said last week councils need to look more locally to counter the potential £15bn cost of diseases such as ash dieback.

Are plastic companies greenwashing?

Are plastic companies greenwashing?

I do agree that there is a lot of 'greenwashing' from the plastic companies. However, I don't believe that they are doing it to deceive the market.

What is the future for RHS Chelsea Flower Show? - 10 questions asked

What is the future for RHS Chelsea Flower Show? - 10 questions asked

Horticulture Week invited Stephen Bennett, the Royal Horticultural Society’s former director of shows for 28 years, to comment on options for the future of the Chelsea Flower Show.


SPIRIT OF FOUR OAKS 2020

 

Go to Spirit of Four Oaks page

 

Horticulture Week

The latest developments concerning coronavirus for horticulture industry professionals involved in buying or selling garden products and plants or producing and participating in horticultural shows and events.
Follow us on:
  • Facebook
  • LinkedIn
  • Twitter
  • Google +
Horticulture Jobs
More Horticulture Jobs

Horticulture Week Top 100 Ornamentals nurseries

See our exclusive RANKING  of ornamentals nurseries by annual turnover  plus the  FULL REPORT AND ANALYSIS

Tim Edwards

Boningales Nursery chairman Tim Edwards on the business of ornamentals production
 

Read Tim Edwards

Pest & Disease Tracker bulletin 

The latest pest and disease alerts, how to treat them, plus EAMU updates, sent direct to your inbox.

Sign up here

Peter Seabrook

Inspiration and insight from travels around the horticultural world
 

Read more Peter Seabrook articles