Learn From The Best Of The Best

The Landscape Association is proud to announce the launch of our new Master Series of events.

Held three times a year the Master Series is designed to provide in-depth education from the very best operators in the Landscaping sector. These events are an opportunity not to be missed with behind-the-scenes, exclusive access to industry leaders keen to share their realworld experience and hard-fought knowledge with their colleagues. So, if you are looking to take the next step with your business but want to be prepared, avoid common mistakes or are looking to make connections with others working in the field, the Master Series is made for you.

Our first Master Series event, ‘Behind the Scenes with Glascott Landscape and Civil’, was held in February this year. Featuring key-note speaker and business Founder, Matthew Glascott, and with contribution from Matthew Bourke, General Manager at Glascott’s, we were treated to a step-by-step expose on the growth of the company, as well as a range of rare insights into the company’s journey to success.

Matthew Glascott’s business has been founded on a number of key principles, one of them being the importance of sharing knowledge in the industry. For this reason, Matthew has always been keen to contribute to the educational events and networking opportunities offered by The Landscape Association. He has also mentored smaller businesses with very talented owners and these enterprises are now thriving, partly as a result of his guidance. Matt regularly meets with colleagues to swap industry knowledge and experience and encourages his staff to do likewise. The need to find the right staff is a constant challenge for the business but it is precisely this attention to good hiring that Matt believes make his business strong. He emphasised the importance of recognising your own strengths and weaknesses and surrounding yourself with people who compensate for your gaps. In his own business, Matt specialises in exploring the big picture whilst Matt Bourke, keeps a keen eye on the detail.

Another founding principle Matt espouses is following a goal of constant improvement. Matt has never been afraid to ask the difficult questions or take the steps needed to ‘make a good business great’. This growth mindset has seen Glascott’s bring in external assessment bodies such as Deloitte to conduct detailed financial assessments or to examine the operations and efficiency of business functioning. The recommendations of these expert agencies were sometimes difficult to implement, however, Matt believes the business has been much improved by the measures.

As part of his address, Matt also outlined some of the more difficult challenges he has faced and the lessons he has learned as he has sought to grow the business. Of special interest to the audience was Matt’s description of the preparations needed to undertake Tier 1 projects successfully. Glascott’s was careful to ensure that all the business processes were streamlined and seamless, and the right staff and infrastructure were in place before entering the big league. Also, crucially, the business had to be financially ready with cashflow well-managed and overheads minimised. Matt emphasised that Tier 1 projects were tough and you would inevitably come across bullies in this dog-eat-dog environment. Critical to survival were the need for excellent contract administration and ensuring that every step of a project was signed-off with the client before moving to the next stage. By knowing the legal requirements of the project and having all your documentation in place, the business is in a good position to stand its ground and face down the bullies. Matt and his team had also learned that businesses need to ask for a contract early in the negotiation process before wasting too many resources on pitching for a project that may not be a viable one for your business. Finally, Matt stressed that businesses need to be prepared to walk away from projects that do not make sense financially; Tier 1 projects require large investments by contractors and there is too much risk and exposure involved when the project just isn’t right.

Following the key-note address, we were fortunate to have a panel of experts lead a discussion surrounding their experience delivering the landscaping contract for the Sydney Metro North-West Rail project. The Glascott Group were the Landscape contractors for this gargantuan project, working alongside other contractors to deliver the new environment. The project statistics highlight the overwhelming size of the undertaking and the commitment needed for success.

Nine years in design and consisting of eight stations, two stabling yards and two service facilities across a 36-kilometre rail corridor, the North-West Rail Project used enormous quantities of materials and manpower. A three-year lead time was required to grow the over 2 million plants needed to landscape the 660 hectares of green space, whilst over 100,000 tonnes of turf were also used. As you would hope, the project stipulated that sustainable practices and materials be used, including 25,000 cubes of mulch and 500,000 square metres of hydro-mulch. These numbers are simply staggering but also represent only part of the materials needed for the project.

The expert panel was made up of: Matthew Tancred, National Client Manager for Glascott Landscape and Civil; Murray Fraser, Professional Soil Scientist at Benedict Sand and Gravel; Daniel Badger, Project Manager at Glascott Landscape and Civil; Tim Carroll, Account Manager at Andreasens Green Wholesale Nurseries; and, Andrew Ewington, Associate Landscape Architect at Hassell. Together, the panel members outlined what had been required to conduct the work and highlighted what they had learned from this unique endeavour.

Each of the contributing businesses faced both individual and group challenges. Whilst Andreasens Green had a necessarily early start to the project, Glascott found the project had a soft start, essentially waiting months to really begin landscaping. All of the businesses were stretched in different ways to expand their capacity for the project but they also shared common issues regarding logistics. Planning was obviously crucial prior to the project, however, daily and weekly planning were just as important as the project progressed. Teamwork, collaboration, internal and external communication all became critical to success, as was the need for enthusiastic engagement of all stakeholders. With 13 different work sites operating simultaneously, reliable transport was essential and on-site decision making became imperative to keep work flowing.

Staffing was also a central issue for all of the businesses. Starting with the right staff at the outset was important, but so was staff retention on the long-running project. Some companies provided staff with specific training and others had dedicated project managers. Each business found that a project of this scale impacted their other day-to-day business and had to take steps to ensure existing client relationships did not suffer. Life after the project also meant extensive planning to reabsorb the expanded capacity created to service the project.

In the words of Glascott’s Daniel Badger, “The Sydney Metro North-West Rail Project is the kind of job that doesn’t come along every day. It is certainly the largest project I have worked on in my career so far. The massive amounts of materials, combined with the complexity of managing many workers across multiple sites simultaneously was very challenging but also exhilarating. Ultimately, it was the teamwork, communication and extensive planning by all the businesses involved that led to the success of the project. The Glascott Group is extremely proud of the resulting landscapes and privileged to have contributed to such an important piece of infrastructure for Sydney’s future.”

The Landscape Association would like to thank Matt Glascott and all the panellists for their time and expertise. Keep your eyes peeled for the announcement our next Master Series event shortly. Members receive substantial discounts on tickets.

For more information or to apply for Membership, visit our website , www.landscapeassociation.com.au to take advantage of our outstanding suite of tailor-made services and resources.

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