Chairman’s summary of the year

Being the old fart that I am, I occasionally like to look back on previous years and reminisce. So, what have been the highlights of 2012?

Well, I suppose the first thing that comes to mind is my trip to the USA. Flying to New York, staying in New York, first time in America – and, of course, seeing shed loads of Japanese Knotweed in America all went to make it a really memorable experience.

Solutions have worked on some lovely sites this year, as well as working in some of the shall-we-say “less salubrious” areas of the country. We have been working in Wales, Scotland and Ireland as well as hitting nearly every county in England. We have also had enquiries from throughout the world, including much of Northern America, Canada and New England. We have been asked to price works in France and Holland as well as having business development opportunities in Poland, Slovenia and the Ukraine.

We have had major projects all over the country as well as right on my own doorstep. A property next door to my house in Glossop was sold recently with Knotweed in the garden and the surveyors didn’t pick up on the infestation until the sale had been agreed. We ended up looking at the works through an enquiry generated by our website – not by the fact I lived next door!

The down-side to the 2012 season has definitely been the influx of new dodgy companies coming in to what they see as an easy way to make a few quid. Damp-proofing companies, turf suppliers, salt spreading companies and timber contractors all seem to think they are “specialist” contractors able to move in to the invasive species market.

In an effort to combat this group, we have started to set up a trade body which will have defined standards and entry criteria able to separate the “wheat from the chaff”, as my father would have said. The Invasive Non Native Specialists Association (INNSA) is planning to launch in 2013 with a view to having a major impact on the world on invasive species management.

I continue to have the highest regard for the team at Solutions. It is great to see people develop and learn and always a pleasure to see younger staff finding their feet and getting an understanding of how business works.

Alex, my Managing Director is an absolute delight to work with. He is by far the brightest, quickest person I have ever worked with. I strongly believe I have learned as much from him as he has learned from me.

We have a new member of the team in the Accounts Department; Toni has been a quick learner and a pleasure to work with – we look forward to building a better accounting structure in 2013, relying less on external accountants and more on internal processes.

New members of the team have also made a big impact this year. A big thanks to Chris (Oliver) who came out of nowhere and has bowled me over with his diligence and skill with the written word. I have never had anyone able to put together an article or thought process better than Chris.

The old faithful crew of Emma, Ann, Suzanne and Jade all continue to develop within their roles and hopefully, with training and opportunity, will continue to be an integral part of the growth at Japanese Knotweed Solutions.

I cannot finish without thanking and giving a big hand to the site lads. We occasionally forget that without their hard work and commitment, nothing would actually ever get done….so to Phil (I love you mate), Taz, Tavi, Bruce, Paul, Pete, Ric, Mike W, Mike B and Andy – WELL DONE ALL!

We have continued to exceed expectations and targets in 2012 which is always a bonus for a business owner. In the current financial climate I have nothing but respect for how our teams have managed our projects to ensure that targets are met, clients are kept happy and the work keeps coming in.

Long may it continue.

Mike C