Beyond 2020 – a summary of NGIWA Conference 2019

The NGIWA State Conference was held on 24 July at the WA Maritime Museum with around 80 attendees from all over the state including Greenlife Industry Australia Director Josh Byrne, Life Member Geoff Richards and Greenlife Industry Australia CEO Peter Vaughan.

The theme of the Conference was “Beyond 2020” with presentations on how the industry should prepare from a production, sales and marketing point of view to meet the challenges for the next decade. Steve Blyth, NGIA’s Biosecurity Certification Officer, was in attendance and this is his summary of the day with key messages.

MC Richard Offen welcomed delegates and throughout the day provided insightful anecdotes from his role with Heritage Perth and historically based stories of the WA Maritime Museum venue.

The conference was officially opened by Craig Woodroofe the President of NGIWA who spoke about generational change and his experiences in the industry.

Newly formed Greenlife Industry Australia CEO Peter Vaughan addressed the conference and spoke about the new organisation that will be taking over as the new national body for the industry. Peter explained the vision for the new entity was “A resilient and adaptive industry where businesses are empowered to enrich lives through a commitment to liveable cities and healthy environments” and showed the new inspiration video which highlights the important of our industry and the different markets we operate in.

He highlighted some impressive statistics on the industry’s contribution to Australia’s economy at $2.4billion and pointed out that our “destiny” is in our own hands.

Dr Eddy Wajon presented a collection of wildflower pictures highlighting his passion for the environment and his work with the Wildflower Society of WA. He spoke about his concerns regarding current roadside clearing practices. This led us to learning about his farm, “Chingarrup” which he has spent the last 15 years revegetating. The farm is within the “Gondwana Link” project and once completely revegetated, will provide important habitat for the native flora and fauna in the area.

Jurek Leon of Terrific Trading spoke passionately about customer service principles, product quality and reliability of supply. He introduced us to another IP - ‘Interpersonal– Procedural’. Not only should we have good interpersonal skills with customers, suppliers and staff to make them feel valued, we should also have supportive procedural processes that reinforce our interpersonal skills.

The term ‘critical nonessentials’ was also explored as well as recognising different customers judge you in different ways at different times. It was highlighted that customer first impressions count and we need to have empathy, walk in their shoes, make them feel comfortable. In doing this we “create customer value by making customers feel valued.”

Dr Darryl Hardy, the Acting General Manager of Plant Biosecurity for the Department of Agriculture WA, gave an overview of departmental activity and how the networks between government and industry are being strengthened. Darry highlighted the 43 major plant biosecurity threats Australia is managing and aware of. He acknowledged our BioSecure HACCP program and the “My Pest Guide App” that is being used in Western Australia.

Dr Jane Chambers spoke about her organisation Nature Link Perth which is looking at linkages being formed between isolated pockets of vegetation within the urban landscape. She explained using education to encourage more nature play and detailed their vision statement acronym LIVE:
L ink - link community to the environment
I nform - inform community (including government) of the benefits of nature
V ision - give community the vision of what it could be like
E mpower - empower them to be active and facilitate change.

Professor Kingsley Dixon from Curtin University and Foundation Director of Science at Kings Park and Botanic Gardens presented findings from his work with native bees and water lilies. He also explained his work regarding “Karrikins” in smoke water, seed coatings from a microbial soup that help enhance germination and the work he is doing with mining companies regarding direct seeding.

He noted the World Orchid Conference is held in Perth 2020 and sought support from growers to be involved with growing the stock.

Kingsley then showed us his “don’t come here to sleep and slumber “garden. An inspiring story of the discovery and reclamation efforts he and his family are undertaking to restore a hidden garden paradise in the southwest of WA

John Stanley talked about “adding value to our businesses” using his own “on farm” example of growing chestnuts that are now used to produce chestnut flour, chestnut ale and chestnut pork.

John looked at the changing markets noting that millennials are gardening; the emergence of urban garden centres in European cities; game changer strategies involving “down Age”; and provided retailer with strategies involving closer communications with our consumers highlighting the need for:
  • Social media, sensory experiences.
  • Show consumer gardening ideas.
  • Demonstrate the before and after.
  • Have an example of a common plan, uncared for backyard and then show an example of what can be achieved using the nurseries plants.
  • It’s about edgy workshops providing an example of planted shopping trolleys.
  • More “grab and go” products for consumers.
  • Selfie corners.

He urged business to have a customer service focus and to “be a day maker not a day breaker” noting “it’s not about the product, it’s about the experience” and encouraging attendees to continue to be the drivers of the “wellbeing” industry.

Finally, Ben Peacock from Republic of Everyone (ROE) closed the day with a presentation on “How does your marketing levy get spent?” Ben explained some of the levy marketing projects being delivered by ROE, particularly regarding the work done with 202020 Vision and how that program has helped effect positive change for our industry. He provided details of what is coming beyond 202020 and outlined the new campaign “Greener Spaces – Better Places”.