Five Years

It’s been five years since I moved to the Operations Department, and I think I have found my niche. I love the organisational side of things and the technical challenges that this role brings. I think it’s safe to say that I have overseen significant improvement, as well as managing a significant expansion in our workload.

In the time I have been at this desk, we have carried out over 5,000 visits to our clients’ sites and carried out works at over 1,000 new sites!

The five-year spray projects we started when I first moved to Operations are coming to an end – and, as with the rest of our five-year projects, we expect around 99% of jobs will be completed successfully, on time. Given that we have started well over 500 warranties in my time here, that’s a lot of success!

It is also coming up to five years since we began including insurance-backed guarantees (IBGs) in all of our Japanese knotweed spray jobs for domestic clients. These guarantees give you peace of mind that our works have been completed successfully and that there will always be someone to call if there is unexpected re-growth on your site.

The first INNSA IBGs are coming to an end in November next year – but the guarantees that we are issuing to home owners today have the option to extend to cover ten years after the end of treatment, so many of today’s clients will be covered until the year 2033 (by which time I am sure we will all have hoverboards and/or jetpacks)!

It hasn’t all been plain sailing, though; works are becoming more difficult, as we have lost a number of herbicides and active ingredients over that time, including Tordon 22k – a picloram-based herbicide which was very effective for treating Japanese knotweed, but which posed a fairly significant hazard to the environment.

Other herbicides have also been withdrawn and we are increasingly falling back on the use of glyphosate for a wide variety of problem weeds. While this is not a problem per se, while we believe glyphosate is safe and while we do support the EU’s recent re-approval of glyphosate as a herbicide, we are not only practicing responsible stewardship and sustainable use, but also actively implementing alternative approaches, including the patented MeshTech, which requires no herbicide application at all.

As part of our drive for continuous improvement, I have spent some time improving our site teams’ packs of works. We are now getting more information in to a pack that also manages to be several pages shorter than the old ones – so our site teams are better informed, our service is more personal to our clients and we are saving (drumroll…) about £20 worth of paper EVERY SINGLE YEAR!

OK, so the environmental battles are a bit harder to win, I will give you that, but every little helps.

On a more personal note, I have gone through a lot of training in my time here, becoming a qualified pesticides advisor, nominated storekeeper and a certified health and safety professional. I am proud to be continuing my path toward graduate membership of IOSH.

What else has happened…? Well, the boss has grown a beard, and it’s now longer than mine… Also, for a significant chunk of those five years, my partner was working here at JKSL too. No wonder she’s got a few grey hairs coming through (and thank goodness she doesn’t read my blogs)!

Chris Oliver, Operations Manager, Japanese Knotweed Solutions