A few wise words from our fourth Chairman, Alan Page of Urban Planters Franchise

on Tuesday, 27 July 2021. Posted in News

Continuing  our series of interviews with past efig/plant@work chairs, with a contribution from Alan Page of Urban Planters Franchise. Alan was eFIG's fourth Chair person.

Alan Page Franchise Director 1

Alan Page, Franchise Director, Urban Planters

Q1. According to our records you were eFIG’s fourth chair serving for one year. What were your influences for where you hoped to lead the organisation and how successful do you think you were?

A.   Being Chair was just one of the roles I had in eFIG. As you know I also stood as Treasurer, Vice Chair and Training Officer, so being Chair was just another role I took during my time as an active committee member. After the demise of BALI’s Interior Landscape Group, which was the older trade body that represented our industry and of which I also involved as a Chair and other committee positions, I still felt I had something to offer the industry and I wanted to contribute in a positive way. Others who I admired had done it before me and others have and will continue to do it after me. I feel without individuals volunteering their time and energy to make a positive change, the industry, in the UK, in Europe or worldwide, would not be where it is now.


Q2. A 2-day trade show was organised at Stoneleigh Park during this time. How successful was the event?

A.   Annual trade shows become a little boring and repetitive, but if they only come along every so often, then they are a great forum for getting the industry’s suppliers and contractors together both for business and for a social. I think we achieved that at Stoneleigh Park and I am delighted that we as a committee produced the event.


Q3.  A training session in Holland was also organised with Nieuwkoop. Was this well attended and considered a success?
 A.   Thanks for the reminder, as mentioned above, it is great getting like-minded individuals together, and putting on any event that gives the attendees something to take away and apply in their business is a great thing. My memory is a bit foggy, but I think the training was on large tree installations and pruning and if this gave those attending the confidence not to shy away from large tree projects, then I feel it was definitely a success.


Q4. You were very hands on in helping to create EILO. What was your reason for that and do you think EILO have provided the service that you all aimed for?

A.   Great question. Most of the European countries have a trade body set up and provide a similar role to plants@work within their own country. There was an appetite to go beyond this and try and get each of these local trade bodies to work as a collective for the benefit of the industry but on a pan European level. We achieved this with the creation of EILO and I am delighted to be one of the founding fathers. We had big expectations for EILO, but as always, it requires finance as well as a group of motivated individuals to achieve these expectations. To date, EILO has successfully brought European interior landscapers together through their biennial excursions/awards and international conferences around Europe. They have also developed an online educational tool that will go live in September 21, once achieved, this will give the employee a European recognised certificate and could be used to provide work opportunities all over Europe. It fills me with pride that EILO has continued to go from strength to strength and also united interior landscapers from across Europe. It’s a great success.


Q5. Since your spell as Chair (2006/7), many things have changed. For instance, we are no longer part of the EU, houseplants are even more popular than they were, we’ve just completed a year of lockdowns because of a pandemic, how would you approach taking plants@work forward now?

A.   The industry is facing new challenges we have not had to deal with before, such as importing, UK Plant Passports and running a business through a global pandemic. Now is more important than ever for plants@work to sit at the centre of our industry, help develop and share best practice, as well as promoting and representing us when these challenges come along.


Q6. How would you motivate more companies to join plants@work now?

A.   Interior landscaping is a very small cog in the landscape sector, let alone the horticultural sector, so we can only achieve great things by working together. plants@work is our only industry trade body and therefore I would strongly recommend you join up as a member and collaborate with fellow interior landscapers in achieving this goal.


Q7. What is your all-time favourite houseplant?

A.   I do own a Hoya carnosa that has been a companion of mine for the past 33 years, so I guess it must be a contender even though it is a little boring. I do love a Musa for it’s large leaves and tropical feel.

Hoya carnosa

Alan's 33 year old Hoya carnosa


Musa (Banana plant)

 Q8. Let’s finish with an old favourite – tell us something about you that most people won’t know:

A.   Since stepping down from eFIG, I became heavily involved with an annual, local charity ale festival in Somerset. This year marks the 20th year of the festival after we had to postpone last year, and we are delighted that in that time we have raised over £205,000 for locally worthy causes, whilst giving the community a highly enjoyable weekend party. I can’t wait for this year’s festival; we all need a party after the year we’ve all had, and the local worthy causes could certainly do with some additional cash. 

Thank you very much for taking part Alan and also a big thank you to Urban Planters for donating our new name plants@work which you already had registered!