More than Landscaping

Environmental Industries

Operating across four distinct yet interconnected service areas, Environmental Industries has grown since 1986 to become one of Australia’s largest and most capable providers of landscaping solutions, from small commercial projects, right up to massive industrial and civil contracts, accounting for 40 million in sales each year.

Beginning with only three employees, a single tip truck, and one utility vehicle, The company’s first contract with the North West Gas Shelf, the company quickly diversified to include passive and active recreation areas, landscaped offices, commercial properties and approximately 600 houses before being contacted by the West Australian Overseas Project Authority to work with a number of entities in the middle east on proposals for major landscape projects.

“We’ve been going a long time – about 35 years,” says Barry Winterbourn, Director. “When we started in Western Australia there was one landscape architect; now there are dozens.”

With more than two hundred permanent employees and a number of contract partners, the company is more than able to complete even the most demanding projects for its commercial and industrial clients across Western Australia.

Environmental Industries is anything but your common landscape contractor; laying sod and planting flowers often make up only the smallest details of the company’s multi-million dollar projects, and through nearly forty years of experience, the company has built a truly international reputation for quality landscaping solutions, highly skilled people, and the infrastructure to plan and complete complex, large-scale projects.

Mr Winterbourn, Director of the Winterbourn Group, which encompasses Environmental Industries, Think Water, and The Seedling Factory, chose to sell a successful air-conditioning company in 1974 and relocate from Port Hedland to Perth, where he and his mother, Ruby Winterbourn, purchased ten acres of land in Gosnels and began production of seedlings as Melville Nursery. In 1976, Barry and his wife Veronica, a microbiologist by trade, began operations with what would become Environmental industries.

The team’s original nursery grew rapidly, reaching production of 40 000 plants annually, and developed quite a name for itself with Veronica’s discovery and development of an entirely new strain, marketed as Philodendron Xanadu. The company also built lasting relationships with large clients, including Coles, Woolworths and, later, Bunnings, operating continuously through 2008. In 2012, The Winterbourn group created a sub-division devoted to seedling development, called The Seedling Factory.

Today, the company’s core focus includes grounds maintenance, construction, production, and irrigation, as well as the ownership of two complementary companies, Think Water and the Seedling Factory, which encompasses forty acres of land and currently produces fifty million seedlings per year, servicing the group’s needs, as well as the forestry sector, the cut flower industry, and vegetable growers. “We grow about 50 million seedlings at the seedling factory for forestry, ornamentals, rehabilitation projects, and we grow vegetable seedlings as well,” says Mr Winterbourn.

The Seedling Factory is also able to supply clients in mining with seedlings to rehabilitate unused mining sites.

Reflecting on the company’s growth since 1986, Mr Winterbourn recognizes just how much the industry has changed in a relatively short period. “This industry has grown very rapidly in the last 15 years, when a big landscape contract would have been $50 000; today, a million dollars would be the starting point for most commercial work that we do.”

This growth has also necessitated the need for a strong management team and a qualified, highly skilled workforce. In an industry traditionally dominated by smaller gardening outfits, today’s industry leaders must have the experience, skill, and capability to win and complete major projects for large clients. “Suddenly you find yourself doing million dollar jobs and you realise this industry is not about putting plants in the ground or mowing lawns; you are a contractor dealing with things like liquidated damages and contractual issues and retentions, all of the normal business things. You are no longer a landscaper, you are a contractor.”

The Winterbourn Group’s Grounds Maintenance division, led by Simon Smith, grounds Maintenance Manager, has grown significantly over the last five years, and today maintains multi-million dollar projects with clients such as Crown Entertainment Complex and the Shorehaven Development. The division has invested more than six million dollars in equipment, allowing the group to tackle contracts of all sorts. “We run about 60 to 70 vehicles in that division, and equipment and some very big contracts with the state government.”

More recently, the company has developed irrigation capabilities, an area that was previously sub-contracted out, through a division known as Think Water, which has been very successful providing irrigation systems, supplies, and servicing for clients in sports, gardens, parks, and corporate and industrial properties. Think Water includes more than forty storefronts across New Zealand and Australia, and is the only provider in Perth. “Think Water is easily our smallest, newest section at only three years old,” says Mr Winterbourn.

The company has capability to complete any contract, from small water features, to the Rottnest nine-hole golf course. Think Water also supplies pumps to drillers and the mining industry.

The business’ landscape construction division undertakes some of the group’s most high value projects, and has the experience and capability to complete large scale projects. The recently completed Fiona Stanley hospital project, for example, was valued at fifteen million and included a number of interesting aspects. “We are contractors as opposed to gardeners, and some of the things we did on that job included lifting 17 thousand tonnes of gravel onto podium levels, and a huge amount of expensive precast concrete,” shares Mr Winterbourn.

The smallest aspect of the project included traditional landscaping, such as planting trees and laying sod, and took nearly three years to complete.

Being family owned and operated in Western Australia, Environmental Industries has a unique understanding of the Western Australian environment and the unique challenges it represents. The company has completed projects for mining and state government clients in landscape construction and grounds maintenance. “We do a lot of work in the north west of western Australia under incredibly harsh conditions, often 50 degrees Celsius,” says Mr Winterbourn.

He identifies the importance of building relationships with clients as central to the continued success of the company in an industry that is truly based upon history, relationships, and word of mouth. Providing accurate, competitive contract estimation and consistently meeting and exceeding expectations has allowed the group to build strong relationships with its clients in the mining, commercial, and civil sectors. “It’s really important that you establish relationships with your clients, and that is largely through your estimating division… Even with the best supervisors, you need to get the work.”

Though the group has a strong history in Western Australia and abroad, with a great investment in equipment to complete a diverse range of contracts, Mr Winterbourn identifies Environmental Industries’ people as its greatest assets and the key to the group’s success and continued growth. The people of the group, he says, possess a wealth of experience and skill across a number of related industries and are committed to appropriately estimating, planning, and completing each project on time and on budget.

With a central focus on safety, the company endeavours to work safely in a high-risk industry. “We do a lot of work for mining companies and local governments, and the biggest single issue we’ve had in the last decade, particularly the last five years, has been occupational health and safety, which is a major issue in Western Australia.” To this end, the company devotes a great deal of time and resources to health and safety training in order to ensure that each worker is able to return home safely at the end of each day, covering everything from occupational health and safety to traffic management and equipment operation.

Finding and retaining high quality labour to meet the demands of the company’s growth has been a challenge, tied closely to the growth cycle of the mining industry in Western Australia. “We’re living in an area where the availability of labour is dependent on what phase the mining industry is in; a huge expansion phase in mining made it difficult to find labour, a very volatile market in Western Australia,” says Mr Winterbourn.

Moving forward, he expects to see continued measured growth for the company, with expansion of its already existing divisions across Western Australia. The expansion of Environmental Industries’ newest division, Think Water is one of the group’s goals for the upcoming years, which presents enormous potential in terms of growth potential and profit. “As a contractor, we’re no different than any other contractor,” says Mr Winterbourn. “We want to stay with what we know, and we want to continue to compete.”

With its long history of excellence in the landscaping industry, Environmental Industries is positioned to continue to win and complete major projects for its clients across a diverse range of industries – on time, on budget, and with a focus on quality and care.

For more information about Environmental Industries, please visit http://environmentalindustries.com.au.

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January 17, 2019, 6:04 AM AEDT