News

Thirst for innovation drives Pohlmans Nursery

INNOVATION: Pohlmans Nursery general manager Robert Pohlman travels the globe to stay ahead of the competition.
INNOVATION: Pohlmans Nursery general manager Robert Pohlman travels the globe to stay ahead of the competition. Lachlan McIvor

IN NOVEMBER 1976 Pohlmans Nursery supplied its first crop of 4000 tomato seedlings to a family in Coominya.

More than 40 years later it is the largest independently owned nursery in Queensland and produces more than 30 million plants a year.

Many other nurseries have gone out of business in the past ten years but Pohlmans have not just hung tight, they continue to thrive by staying ahead of their competitors.

Pohlmans general manager Robert Pohlman said a big part of their success over the past four decades has been their dedication to innovation.

"Innovation is the big key,” Mr Pohlman said.

His parents, John and Val, laid the foundations for the nursery all those years ago and it was his father who set the standard for constantly seeking out new methods and technology.

On a trip to Holland in 1979, he discovered and refined the rolling aluminium table system.

The Dutch only used the system inside glasshouses but John redesigned it so that an entire glasshouse of plants could be moved outside for sun-hardening and moved back inside at night.

It is still used in the nursery today.

That standard is something that has carried on to the next generations.

"So when it came to him building a nursery, he travelled the world,” he said.

"He says 'go look for new plants and look for new technology'. You have to be cutting edge. All the time we think what can we put in to make us more efficient.”

One of the greenhouses at Pohlmans Nursery, holds rows and rows of flowers.
One of the greenhouses at Pohlmans Nursery, holds rows and rows of flowers. Lachlan McIvor

It has been that constant hunger for what's around the corner that has kept Pohlmans on top.

"What has happened since 2008, with the last big drought, is a lot of nurseries went out,” he said.

"We've always hung in, tried to stay innovative especially with new plant varieties.

"We do a lot of our own trials, we might bring them in from Europe but we've still got to trial them to make sure they handle this climate, if they'll flower properly and form for our customer.”

Rob follows in his father's footsteps, globe trotting to stay on top of the latest growing trends.

"For innovation we travel the world,” he said.

"I've just come back from America then I'll be in China, then back in America in eight weeks then in China after that then I'm in Europe.

"So we're always looking (for what's next).”

The nursery as it stands in 2017 is one of the Lockyer Valley's most successful businesses.

Their main customer base sits primarily between Cairns and Newcastle with Pohlmans supplying more than 1000 customers including major chains such as Woolworths, Bunnings, Aldi and Coles.

Their plants even add to a touch of colour to theme parks like Dream World and Movie World.

They employ more than 180 people, injecting more $12 million into the local economy in the process.

The nursery offers tours and trips to garden clubs, TAFE college, schools and others to give them a taste of the massive wholesale production that often goes unseen.

FAMILY: John Pohlman Jnr, Robert Pohlman, Greg Pohlman and Mark Pohlman with John and Val Pohlman at Pohlmans Nursery.
FAMILY: John Pohlman Jnr, Robert Pohlman, Greg Pohlman and Mark Pohlman with John and Val Pohlman at Pohlmans Nursery. Tom Threadingham

"Most people think you put a few seeds in a pot, but there are so many different parts,” he said.

"Most people will only ever see the retail side.”

One of Rob's point of pride behind the scenes is the innovative greenhouses that have proven to be well ahead of their time.

"It's called a Cravo,” he said.

"The first house we put in 19 years ago, you see more farmers put in now.”

Staff can check in on the house from anywhere around the globe via their iPhones. "We can look anywhere in the world and see what the house is doing,” he said.

"The house will open, close, shut because it's too windy, if there's too much UV it'll shut the shade curtain, if there chance of rain it will shut the roof, if it's too humid it will crack the roof.”

Farmers have picked up the technology for growing fruit and vegetables.

"For commercial farmers it's brilliant technology, it's just that we bought it in for pot production 19 years ago,” he said.

Saving water wherever possible when growing plants was also a major priority.

"We've been able to cut our water by 70% by putting in this boom irrigation, instead of overhead water and wasting a lot,” he said.

Rob embodies the passion his family and staff have for the industry, not just to carry the nursery sustainably into the future but to be part of something they truly love.

"Even though my business is growing, if I can put more efficient process in place and keep the same staff but I can actually grow my turnover by putting more robots and packing efficiencies in place,” he said.

"Most of my management committee have been with me ten and 20 years, the biggest key there, is a lot of the people who work for me it's not just a job, it's a passion for what they do,” he said.

"They have a passion in horticulture, they love plants, they love the new technology we put in and they especially love the new varieties.”

Topics:  gardening pohlmans nursery


Stay Connected

Update your news preferences and get the latest news delivered to your inbox.

True story kept under wraps

FUNNY MOMENT: The actors who portrayed Sammie and Matt in last weeks episode of True Story.

The story was too funny not to tell.

Fallen power lines lead to outages and fire

POWER OUTAGES: Emergency services are on the scene of a grass fire caused by fallen power lines.

The incident occurred at 10.18am.

Car crashes into tree on Burnett Highway

ON SCENE: Police at the crash on the Burnett Highway.

The incident was reported at about 10.17am.

Local Partners

Kingaroy local story on True Story with Hamish and Andy

Kingaroy got featured on Hamish and Andy's new show

Bundy mum blogging to get families offline

FAMILY FUN: Deonie Crowther is holding family craft sessions at the Windmill Cafe in Bargara.

Crafty projects a hit with parents and children

Country music stars coming to Ipswich

Ipswich will get it's country on when The Country Superstars Tribute Show hits town on Friday, June 30 at Brothers Leagues Club.

A UNIQUE tribute show will bring a bit of country into the city.

Shoes make difference to kids in Zambia

MANY SHOES: Toowoomba Grammar School's Adrian Irwin and Fairholme College's Libby Stumer with shoes collected for children in Zambia.

Students are making a difference, creating a new project

King Judah through to The Voice grand final

NOT even losing his speaking voice through illness could stop the Laidley singer from performing tonight.

The top 10 TV shows that need to end

Kevin Spacey and Robin Wright in a scene from season five of House of Cards.

It’s now time to cull some of our favourites

Prince Harry reveals he wanted to leave the royal family

Prince Harry was the center of attention during his trip to Sydney.

Prince Harry has revealed he “wanted out” as a Royal

Why streaming movies will cost more from July 1

Australians can expect to pay more for streaming services such as Netflix when the new taxes kick in.

The new taxes from July 1 won’t hurt the MPs’ big pay rise

What's on the small screen this week

Ryan Shelton in a scene from True Story with Hamish & Andy.

HAMISH and Andy hear another funny story and Cleverman returns.

Digging down to find Clare

Australian actress and singer Clare Bowen, who got her big break on the US TV series Nashville, is touring Australia with her solo album.

After five years on Nashville it’s time to tell her own stories.

Gateway to $3 billion, 4800 home new Coast city opens

The start of Peter Crosby Way at Sippy Downs, the northern access into the Harmony master-planned community at Palmview.

Palmview's $3b master-planned community of Harmony

Millionaire Nathan Birch to offload $55M in property

Nathan Birch wants to focus more on developing properties.

Sydney property investor has announced he is selling up

Fame factor boosts property prices in Byron

The stunning Clarke's Beach in Byron Bay.

House prices surge by an incredible 39.5% in star-studded area

Grass is greener for Warwick real estate

Warwick's rural charm and affordable property prices are enticing buyers from Brisbane.

Quality houses for half the price of Brisbane attracting interest

Builders relish Coast's growing construction rates

The Coast's average house price has risen from by more than $10,000 in the past three years to $507,100.

House numbers and values are rising on the Coast

Ready to SELL your property?

Post Your Ad Here!