James intended to start an electrical apprenticeship on leaving school, before a close friend tipped him off that he could earn a good wage cutting ferns for Cedar Hill Group.
He decided to give it a six month trial, and soon was so proficient that he was promoted from harvester to Field Supervisor.
James’ knowledge of local native foliages, and where they grow, assisted his next move within the Group, the sensitive business of negotiating licences to harvest on government lands and in state forests.
Eight years ago, James became Operations Manager, overseeing tubestock plant production within the nursery as well as the harvesting and processing of foliage. And in 2020, after twenty-six years with Cedar Hill Group, James now runs all operations on site as General Manager.
He attributes his long career with the company to the ability to change roles regularly, and progress with training and experience.
“Through the job I’ve seen more of the east coast of Australia than most people, and remote places, accessible only by 4WD, that the tourists never see.”
Nursery Production Manager
Ben’s love of plants was instilled in him from an early age by his dad, a University lecturer in Biology, Ecology, Aquaculture and Botany. Ben’s interest in production horticulture began growing hydroponic chillies in a converted shed at his home on the Gold Coast. Ben relocated to London in 2010 where he worked growing bedding plants in heated glasshouses. This nursery was his first experience with Dutch plugs and controlled environment horticulture. He then spent 3 years working as a high-end installation and maintenance gardener in Kensington & Chelsea, honing his eye for detail and the use of plants’ structures to enhance garden liveability and impact.
After his return to Australia, Ben took on the management of a propagation nursery on the Sunshine Coast, Queensland. Over the past 10 years, Ben has gained experience at some of the largest production nurseries in Queensland. His roles have included large scale sales projects managing the delivery of greenlife; to commercial developments including the Gateway Upgrade North, West End Village, and Westfield Coomera.
Ben joined APS in December 2019 as Nursery Production Manager and was immediately met with the challenge of a huge growth in greenlife sales during COVID, and the installation and management of technology-controlled environment propagation greenhouses. With a varied and evolving species list, Ben’s days are spent developing, implementing and managing production schedules to ensure reliable supply of plants year-on-year. He currently manages the production of over 1000 species grown from cuttings, seed, and tissue culture, and oversees a dedicated staff of over thirty, producing quality tubestock year-round.
His current position of Vice President of the Sunshine Coast branch of the NGIQ keeps him in contact with industry leaders, and allows him the opportunity to share his love of plants with fellow growers and the gardening public.