Lawn Solutions Australia have just enjoyed a productive week at the Melbourne International Flower and Garden Show (MIFGS).
After launching in July last year, Lawn Solutions Australia has gone from strength to strength with market penetration.
“It is a big change for us at the show this year,” says Gavin Rogers, the Director of Lawn Solutions Australia.
“In the past we have always just worn our Sir Walter hat and it can be a very tunnel-vision approach if you walk up to a customer/ client/ homeowner and they don’t want Sir Walter.
“Now, if you think lawns in Australia, new lawns, old lawns or maintaining a lawn, we have a product for everybody.
“This is a Victorian show but the important thing for us is that there are people from all over Australia here. Lawn Solutions have three or four of our staff from interstate here manning the stands everyday, along with the four Victorian growers, Anco, StrathAyr, Lilydale and Coolabah Turf for local knowledge,” says Gavin.
“There are about 250 turf farms in Australia and 42 of them are part of the Lawn Solutions group. That 42 represents about 51 per cent of the turf produced in Australia.
“Prior to Lawn Solutions, we were all competing against each other, but it is really important not to create too much confusion or monopoly, so for Victoria, while we still have four companies here, it is so that consumers get a choice in product. They know they want to buy from a Lawn Solutions person but they can go with the company that best suits their needs.”
Lawn Solutions Australia now have about 300 vehicles sign written around the country, so wherever you go in the turf world you will see their green and white trucks all over the place.
Like Sir Walter, all their other grasses are accredited and bred to a genetic purity program. So customers can be assured that if they are buying a certain kind of couch (or any of the species on offer) it is the same couch in every market.
“Since our launch last year we have become Australia’s largest importer of grasses, we have imported more new varieties in a single shipment this year than have been imported in the history of Australian quarantine,” says Gavin proudly.
“Of those new varieties we work with about 55,000 different breeds of plants, but we have selected 20 of those that are out here on trial now, so we are getting closer to releasing the next generation of grasses for the Australian market.
“We are also in a joint breeding program with four American Universities, going across the centre of Australia, looking for more breeding materials so we can work with material from our own deserts, plus what they’ve got in America to increase our drought tolerance.
“We have a strong focus on the future, our pipe dream for Lawn Solutions Australia is not just to have the best grasses of today, but work towards having the best grasses of the future.”
Gavin says that while their plan isn’t to increase the membership of turf farms involved with Lawn Solutions Australia at the moment, they will always keep an eye on the market.
“The turf industry has suffered a little bit from poor reputation and some rogue traders that operate below the standards of professionals that we would like to see.
“We are raising the bar for our own group at the moment, that is right through from accreditation, workplace health and safety, quality control on the farm and this year we are just introducing to our group the International Turf Grass Genetic Assurance Program (ITGGAP), so everyone’s turf will be grown under a genetic assurance.
“This means now and in the future, you won’t get 50 different turf farms giving you 50 different varieties of the same species. For us it is not just about marketing but about ensuring quality and consistency.”
One person that has been crucial in the marketing for Lawn Solutions Australia is Jason Hodges from Better Homes and Gardens. He has had a long association with Sir Walter brand and has been instrumental in getting the word about the shift to Lawn Solutions Australia out to the general public.
“Media identities are really important, we have had a long association with Jason Hodges because he really loves lawn. He is passionate about lawns, his own backyard is just turf from wall to wall.
“He is all about the Aussie lawn and the Aussie backyard. While he is still a brilliant landscaper, he really fits our bill.
“Jason is an ambassador for Lawn Solutions but he is a real ambassador for Aussie Lawns. He is unreal.”