The Pro Landscaper Business Awards are fast approaching, held at East Wintergarden in Canary Warf on 9 February, bringing the landscaping community together for an afternoon to celebrate the exceptional standards of the industry. Pro Landscaper speaks with Jim Wilkinson, managing director of Eljays44, about the decision to set up the awards and what they aim to bring to the landscaping sector.
“Our industry is exceptional at celebrating the visual beauty of landscaping and there are plenty of amazing platforms doing this, such as the BALI Awards and the RHS shows that highlight how phenomenal landscapes can look,” Jim explains. “Where we suffer is proclaiming how well businesses operate, and the Pro Landscaper Business Awards have been formed to praise companies with exemplary processes, staff training, health and safety records and consistently positive customer feedback.”
There have been several cases where companies win a one-off design and build award and receive a great amount of praise – the next thing you know, they’re in hot water financially and potentially going bust. “In this day and age with large companies such as Carillion going under, these awards are a terrific way to reassure people dealing with the award recipients that these companies are here to stay and operate in a professional manner,” Jim tells us.
“The awards will be a lunch event, held at the stunning East Wintergarden in Canary Warf, starting with a guest speaker who will provide a light-hearted introduction. This will be followed by the awards and ample opportunities to network,” Jim explains.
When asked about the standard of entries in the award’s first year, Jim says: “The level of entries has been unbelievably good for our first awards, and as Pro Landscaper magazine, the ceremony gives us great content for our readers as we cover the winning companies that epitomise the industry leaders in business operations.”
Eljays44 is striving to expand and improve the awards year-on-year. “Next year we plan to break up the categories and offer more awards to a greater range of firm sizes – our current categories of ‘Landscape Company Under £1m’ and ‘Landscape Company Over £1m’ are applicable to a broad range of companies on very different scales,” Jim says. “As the awards develop and the positive effects on the recipients’ reputations becomes apparent, we hope to get more entries from smaller garden design practices.”
Most awards in landscaping are exclusively judged by people within the sector, but the Pro Landscaper Business Awards differ in that top business owners in the industry, such as Richard Gardener and John Wyer, are paired with judges from outside the sector. Jim explains: “Our other judges specialise in areas such as marketing, HR, corporate social responsibility and business development.”