Sustainable Growth

Technigro

Technigro has built a stellar reputation for quality and sustainability through its use of Integrated Vegetation Management (IVM) and places as far off as Singapore have come to the company for advice and assistance. Business in Focus spoke with the man who started it all, its CEO and founder Nick Bloor.

Nick started Technigro back in 1987 and the business grew as family members joined. Recently, Technigro celebrated its twenty-fifth anniversary and now has three generations of the Bloor family involved in the business.

As Technigro grew, a handful of employees became seventy-five – to over ninety in the peak growing season. Not everyone who is a part of the business is a family member in the literal sense but they are certainly all part of the “Technigro family,” as Nick affirms. “Our longest serving non-family employee has been with us for nineteen years,” he says. “We firmly believe that our most valuable asset is our people and we work very hard to foster a culture of family.” A number of the employees have been with the company for over ten years.

IVM is Technigro’s trademarked scientific approach to vegetation management. IVM ensures the needs of the client are thoroughly understood, the site environment is assessed and factors that impact plant health are identified. The site conditions can then be amended and Technigro’s systems implemented to monitor plant health. “It’s about managing vegetation that exists in places where people live, work and play,” Nick explains, “parks, sporting fields and roadsides. Our focus is on keeping those spaces clean, green and beautiful, but doing it sustainably.” The company’s problem solving process improves the way that vegetation is managed, enabling better use of resources, and identifying and targeting only the areas of concern. It makes for a holistic, proactive approach and it works.

Of course, in the business of vegetation, seasonal variations can obviously have an impact. With IVM, part of the methodology is to use a programmed approach as opposed to a strictly reactive approach for managing vegetation. “So we account for those areas that receive eight weeks of rain and build those factors into our annual program,” says Nick. “The management processes are proactive and reactive.” Technigro also uses very lightweight equipment – this equipment doesn’t damage the ground and enables the vehicles to access areas much faster when it’s raining.

The company has worked hard at building a system and developing technology that is designed to do things safer and faster while still achieving a high quality outcome. Its technological innovations deal predominantly with the area of maintaining and improving the health of desired plants. Separating the business from competitors is a strong internal research and development facility, operating now for the better part of fifteen years and gaining patents on the resultant pieces of technology.

Technigro’s patented DriftProof® Sprayer and its SmartWiper® are two examples of technology the company has developed that have given it a leading advantage. Both result in the reduction of product application, which is good for both the environment and the client’s budget.

The DriftProof® Sprayers (DPS), which are towed by purpose designed quad bikes, apply liquid products such as insecticides, soil conditioners, fertilisers or selective herbicides. The fully enclosed and skirted shrouds on the DPS result in zero drift – allowing accurate delivery of product whilst ensuring the application process is far safer for the operator and customer.

The SmartWiper® (also towed behind the specially adapted quads) uses a computerised control to feed product to a wiping pad, which can selectively apply to where is needed, and nowhere else. This spray-less technology is ideal for herbicide application to taller weeds that sprout up from mowed areas.

“It’s all very well to develop a piece of technology, but at the end of the day it’s the outcome that is most important,” says Nick. “So our technology is focused on safety in use for our people and also for the public that we work around. Giving our customers a better value of service and being able to reduce cost and reduce the amount of product being supplied makes it more environmentally sustainable. A number of pieces of our technology reduce chemical use by eighty per cent, which is obviously very significant.”

Currently, Technigro is working with the Singapore Government to introduce IVM techniques to the market. Technigro’s sterling reputation in the industry saw the company awarded a contract with the Government to provide best practice vegetation management to members of the Landscape Industry Association of Singapore (LIAS) as part of the country’s Landscape Productivity Roadmap initiative. Nick explains, “Developing innovative products and processes is central to the Technigro IVM ethos, and to be asked to export our knowledge to Singapore, the world’s city in a garden, is a great confirmation of what we’ve been doing.”

Technigro certainly has its feet firmly on the ground and its sustainable growth processes apply not only to its services but also to the company itself. Over the past ten years, the business has averaged twenty per cent annual growth. The company prefers to grow organically – no pun intended – entering into niche markets, where its services are sought, such as the current projects in Singapore, rather than forcing its way into new markets.

The company’s mission statement is: “Harnessing people, technology, knowledge and systems to change the way vegetation is managed forever,” and as Nick explains, “That is our goal. We don’t just support initiatives that are directly bringing in business. We are looking at the longer term purpose of actually improving the way that things are done within the industry and effectively doing more with less.”

In line with that statement, Technigro has just released a set of field guides for the identification of invasive species in SE Queensland in addition to a regular newsletter, ‘The Vegetation Manager,’ in which the company’s consulting Scientist and noted weed expert Dr Sheldon Navie produces Weed Watch, a publication on new and emerging weed threats that provides relevant best practice control methods for practitioners. Technigro also partners with a number of Universities on research projects and hosts an annual Vegetation Managers Forum where customers and industry stakeholders come together to share knowledge.

To further set itself apart from the pack, Technigro has a trusted brand name. “We have worked hard over the last 25 years to develop a brand reputation that our customers can rely on. We back that up with the fact that we are industry knowledge leaders.”

Business of the Year Award was awarded to Technigro at the 2012 Gold Coast Business Excellence Awards and Nick presented this award at the company Christmas party to the whole team as a thank-you for their contributions. “While I am the founder and the family may be the owners, we do not have a business without the amazing group of people who work here,” he shares. “The look on their faces when we presented the award was something that certainly makes me very proud. The award is recognition that what we are doing is recognised, acknowledged and appreciated.”

Nick also thanks Family Business Australia (FBA) for all the assistance from them over the last ten years. “As a family business we are proud of the fact that we are involved with the FBA and they have helped us to get to where we are today.” FBA is a not-for-profit organisation that helps family businesses to improve their operations and address family-specific issues.

Technigro’s business plan is not one that concentrates on hard and fast financial targets; instead, the company’s plan from the beginning has been to simply do the right thing and seize the opportunities that present themselves. The contract with the Government in Singapore is a testament to that – lead and others will follow. As Nick says, “If we ever have to make a business decision, we look to our values first, and profit comes second.”

Making Sense of Management

Management is the art, or science, of getting things done through people. Sounds fairly straightforward – except for the fact that people are not robots waiting to do our bidding. People have their own minds, motivations, and goals. So how do managers keep operations – and the people behind them – running as planned?

July 20, 2018, 9:11 AM AEST