Vice President profile - Ben Grange
By Gabrielle Stannus
We profile Ben Grange, Vice President of Greenlife Industry Australia, whose business and governance experience make him eminently qualified to ‘grow’ solutions for the greenlife industry.
Ben Grange decided to nominate for the inaugural board of Greenlife Industry Australia to give back to an industry association that he believes has looked after his and countless other businesses. “It is also a very exciting industry to be in and very rewarding,” Ben elaborates.
Ben also saw his appointment as a way of ensuring a seamless transition from the federated industry model to the new entity; he remains Vice President of Nursery & Garden Industry Australia until it winds up.
With this experience under his belt (plus six years on the board of the Nursery & Garden Industry NSW & ACT), it is not surprising that Ben has quickly taken to his new board role. Ben recently chaired the board nomination committee as it recruited two new directors, Alistair Hill from Immij Greenlife and Davina Boyd from Murdoch University. And Ben is keen to implement the outcomes of the Greenlife Industry Australia Strategy Workshop held in Melbourne last month.
As well as sharing his corporate governance skills with the Greenlife Industry Australia board, Ben brings business acumen and a positive can-do attitude that has served him well over the twenty years he has worked in his family business.
Ben is the National Sales & Marketing Manager for Grange Growing Solutions, a business started by his father in 1986. This business produces innovative potting mixes and peat blends, using a unique personalised computer software package to maintain all their individual customer’s formulas. Grange Growing Solutions is quality assured by SAI global and NASAA (organic certification) and is EcoHort certified through the national farm management system.
After finishing high school, Ben initially entered a hotel management course in Leura in the Blue Mountains. However, one year into that course, Ben realised that it was not for him. “That is when dad asked whether I would like to come in and work on the potting mix side of the company,” says Ben, adding that he did not hesitate to enter the family business.
“Dad was very much a hands-on Managing Director. He liked anyone that came into the business, especially his kids, to learn it from the ground up. He did not want to just bring us in to be managers or give us an office job. He wanted us to learn how to sweep the floor, answer the phone and do everything,” says Ben of his early beginnings in the industry. Having got his start on the floor, Ben then went to TAFE to study horticulture at night.
With his father Harry now retired, Ben runs the business with his sister Anna (Chief Financial Officer) and brother Simon (Chief Operations Officer). He says the three siblings are not afraid to get their hands ‘dirty’.
“When you grow up in a business, you know everything about it,” Ben explains, “So, if my sister is away looking after her two little kids, I can slip into her role or my brother’s role in operations. I will get back in the front-end loader or jump on a forklift. When the going gets tough, you have got to put your head down and get through it”.
That attitude will serve Ben well during his time on the Greenlife Industry Board. However, Ben does not see his board responsibilities as a burden or a hindrance: “I enjoy the board duties and different activities that we do. However, I think I am fortunate in the sense that my brother Simon and my sister Anna support me in this role.”
In his spare time, Ben loves to travel. He has journeyed all over Australia, Southeast Asia and America and visited New Zealand, China and Sri Lanka. His next overseas holiday destination is Bali. However, Ben will be making one important trip before that. Join him in Perth for Greenlife Industry Australia’s Healthy Plants, Healthy People conference from 3-5 March 2020.