January 1, 2012
Bylands Nurseries best in the world
Canadian grower receives international acclaim
After winning the inaugural CNLA RBC grower of the year award, Bylands Nurseries of Kelowna, B.C., was honoured with the prestigious Gold Rose award by the International Association of Horticultural Producers (AIPH) in Xi'an, China in September, 2011.
Nominees for this international program are all winners of their own national awards of excellence competitions. The Silver Rose was awarded to Majestic Trees of the United Kingdom, and The Green Innovator of The Netherlands received the Bronze Rose.
Judging criteria for the AIPH Grower of the Year award goes far beyond the production of top quality plants. Judges consider economic performance and marketplace position, innovation in production and growing techniques, market orientation and company image, environmental standards and human resource policies.
In a comprehensive application, the company provided key benchmark indicators to prove its financial strength, demonstrating fiscal prudence. Letters of reference from bankers and accountants attested to the strength of Bylands' management team.
Primarily a container operation, Bylands produces over 3 million plants on 400 acres in Kelowna and Chilliwack. The inventory lists over 3,000 plant varieties and sizes. The company was one of the first Canadian nurseries to become DCPC certified and to implement the new Clean Plants Certification program, recognizing the importance of documentation and traceability.
In 2008, Bylands revamped its marketing and focused on promoting itself as a brand, targeting the end user. The goal is to have customers asking for Bylands' product when they visit a garden centre. Plant labels underwent a complete redesign, with the logo prominently displayed, a great photo and relevant plant information. POP bench signs and tree wraps were distributed to act as silent salespeople at independent garden centres.
Bylands has been an industry leader with its environmental practices for decades. Growing in the dry conditions of the British Columbia interior, water conservation is taken very seriously. In 1993, Bylands was the first nursery in B.C. to construct a water reclamation pond. Since then, two more have been built, allowing the nursery to reuse up to a third of water consumed. The community composting program offered at Bylands was featured in May 2011 Landscape Trades. This program diverts green waste from local landfills, and creates valuable organic matter that is reused at the nursery. As testament to its commitment to environmental initiatives, the nursery was the first recipient of BCLNA's Environmental Stewardship Award.
The final judging criteria for International Grower of the Year, is the human resource element. Bylands Safety Committee is active at the nursery, which is committed to offer its employees a safe, clean, well-maintained workplace. The company offers a top-notch benefits package to full-time and continuing season employees, and brings a physiotherapist on site every two weeks to provide employee assessments and treatment, at company cost. As a result, the nursery's worker compensation insurance rates were adjusted down by 30 per cent. Bylands supports apprenticeship, and its company policy is to have one or two employees in the program at any given time. Social events throughout the year express the company's appreciation for staff's hard work and dedication.
"It was a great honour to receive this award, especially as this is the first year for Canada's participation," said John Byland. "I wish to acknowledge the foresight of Owen Vanstone in bringing this program to Canada, and the support of the CNLA in making the national Grower of the Year Award possible."