16/03/2020 - News
Arbour Landscape Solutions is arguably one of the fastest growing landscape supplies company in the UK. But what makes the business so successful? Is it because it's industry led? Could it be that it's because the small team of people are all "on board" with the Company ethos and enjoy working together? Or is it because this company actually does what it claims it can do? Ultimately, the success of Arbour Landscape Solutions is down to one man's vision. Let's "meet" Richard Bickler, and find out what drives his passion for life and the landscape industry.
Q: You always seem to be available to help industry colleagues. What does your typical working day look like?
I have a routine that rarely changes, up at 5am Monday/Wednesday/Friday to train at 05:45 for 40mins then it’s home, take the kids to school and then in the office by 8am. I check in with my brilliant admin/marketing/it/accounts team to see what’s occurred over the weekend and it’s then onto making sure all the orders are ready for our clients, check up on bespoke orders, speak with some of my suppliers, you name it, it is full on and thoroughly enjoyable. Tuesday/Thursdays & the weekends I get a lie in then it’s off to walk Benji & Ollie in the local wilderness. Great thinking/preparation time & if I am lucky will walk them later in the day.
Q: What aspect of your job do you enjoy the most and why?
I love interacting with the boots on the ground who have the hard task of building gardens in all weathers. I love getting out on the roads, meeting current and new clients and find it so engaging taking clients to quarry’s & workshops to pick out their materials and show them how they are produced. I also love the challenge of finding materials that the client cannot get hold of and finding answers to problems landscapers have problems with. The best part is when clients send you images of the products you’ve supplied looking magnificent in their garden builds
Images like this make me smile and I love to celebrate the skill of UK landscapers by sharing them far and wide. These Porcelain Pavers were supplied by Arbour Landscape Solutions and installed by Artisan Landscapes in Bristol. https://www.artisanbristol.com
Q: Which of your skills, technical or otherwise has helped you the most in your career?
Being an ex-hard landscaper,whose mother is a retired garden designer helped immensely. She taught me a huge amount about what plant should be where and why. I also enjoyed watching others during my training in my late teens before embarking on my own professional career. I am lucky enough to have 3 mentors including my accountant father who have guided me since my early teens helping me to focus, prepare and plan for what lies ahead. Working with a skilled team when running my landscaping business allowed me to look at other landscape related ventures and ultimately to get Arbour Landscape Solutions towards the top of the Landscape Materials Supply chain.
Q: Who or What do you see as the greatest threat to the UK Landscape Industry?
We all know about Coronvirus & Xyella but more importantly climate change as I see that as one of the biggest impacts. The weather over the last 6 months has caused immense issues with landscapers and their projects and I can't help thinking that global warming has set the wheels in motion for wilder, wetter and warmer weathers. We can all do our bit to stop polluting the world and I put the environmental policies at Arbour Landscape Solutions at the top of what we do. We have stopped sourcing from China and trying to use as many Uk manufactures and Europe for a lot of what we supply.
Q: Your landscape supplies business seems to be quite successful- but how do YOU define success?
Very good question, I don't think that you can ever truly answer that question however success will be measured in our yearly sales/profits, how well your business is perceived by others & ultimately do you have a business that one day you could sell. But along with monetary value, I also regard success as enjoying what I do and getting job satisfaction from knowing I have done my best and all the hard work is worth it.
Q: What advice would you give to anyone thinking of starting their own landscaping business?
Never be afraid to ask questions, there is no such thing as a stupid question. Get practical hands on training on site or go to a technical college. Join Landscape forums post questions, look at others work. Business plans are great however they change like the wind. Have a focused set of targets you want to achieve, never over promise what you can't deliver, be honest, truthful and always do your best. Make sure your paperwork is always in place from start to finish. The offer is always there that if anyone ever needs any guidance you know where to come 7 days a week.
You always seem to be at work, but when you do take time off, what do you do to relax?
As I explained in the opening question my family, dogs and friends allow me to relax. I am a pretty relaxed person & I don’t call this work as I truly love what I do. Being a business owner isn’t easy but I wouldn’t change it for all the Tea in China. I travel a lot for business and over the next few years will be travelling for myself/family seeing the world, coronovirus permitting…
Benji and Ollie - the youngest two members of the Bickler family
How would your wife describe you?
My wife would say I was a workaholic, but these days a less stressed one!!! She will tell you that since I set up ALS, even though I work the same hours, I am much more relaxed, and happier with life. But she will also tell you, that although I can be very annoying at home (I turn heating and lights off all the time, and she then turns them back on!), I put my family before anything else, and am happiest in the company of my children and my dogs.
When was the last time you took a risk? What did you learn from it?
I would say that setting up Arbour Landscape Solutions was a massive risk. I was running a very successful landscaping company but had lost my passion for it. I decided that the time had come to try something else. With the support of my family I gave up on the security landscaping gave me and jumped straight into the supply business with Arbour Landscape Solutions & my other business Green Envee.
I was not sure which way the business would go, but after a year realised supply was the best route to go. I am now happier than I have ever been and actually enjoy getting up every day & look forward to what the day brings.
I would say do not be scared to do what makes you happy. Life is too short to spend your days doing a job you don’t want to be in.
Give us an example of a problem you’ve tackled in which the usual solutions wouldn’t have worked
In late 2019 I was asked to supply all the landscape materials for Ben Browning of Unique Projects Devon who had the unenviable task of building the John Lewis Southampton Roof Garden within 3 weeks. A project like this should have taken 2 months and meticulous planning by me and Ben allowed us to overcome logistics, materials, access and weather related issues. We worked long hours to make sure everything went seamlessly and from the video that we were shown of the entire build that is on the website … you can see the incredible amount of work that went on, on site but only possible with an organised military executed plan..
Unusual but not impossible - lifting landscaping materials onto the rooftop for an extraordinary project.
Let us in on a secret – what has 2020 got in store for Richard Bickler and Arbour Landscape Solutions?
As we have raced into spring already the main focus will be getting the website finished so everyone whose in the industry has the one stop shop at their disposal 7 days a week, 24 hours a day. There will be an extended range of products coming to the site soon and some exciting plans that will be revealed in the next few months.
There are a couple of new members of the team that will be coming on board soon who come from a landscape related background and just the kind of people that I want around me.
I will be heading out around the UK to see my existing clients and meet lots of new ones.
The one thing that my clients love is when I collect them and take them out see how the products they have chosen are manufactured or sourced. This country is full of great companies especially stone quarries that extol everything that is fabulous about working with UK suppliers. Arbour Landscape Solutions is truly passionate in everything we do and we wouldn't be able to do without the support of our clients.