The winner of a national business award has credited Writtle College with giving him his first step on a high-flying career path.
Landscaper James Lanwarne, founder of St Albans-based business Lanwarne Landscapes, beat hundreds of small business owners to be named the Nectar Business Tradesperson of the Year 2013 by a panel of judges including the star of BBC 1's The Apprentice, Karren Brady.
The accolade is the latest in a string of successes for the 35-year-old since he studied a Diploma in Garden Design at Writtle College, near Chelmsford.
He said: "I started my landscaping business just over 10 years ago and started out in purely landscape construction, working for external designers. After eight years, I felt that I could expand my services if I improved my knowledge of garden design and horticulture with a Diploma in Garden Design at Writtle College, which would help me to grow my business through the recession. Successfully doing this has now led to me being named Nectar Business Tradesperson of the Year 2013!
"I learned an enormous amount from the Writtle College lecturers Richard Hughes, Jill Raggett and Greg Allen and have since developed a successful design practice, planting and horticulture consultancy service. I've been offering garden design, construction and horticulture advice days at a local award-winning garden centre for over two years now and the business has grown significantly since graduating in 2011.
“Not only did I take away a new outlook on the industry and increased knowledge, but I made some great business contacts in my tutors and peers; we are still in touch to this day."
James, who grew up in St Albans and still lives there, now looks to Writtle College for graduates of the calibre to work in his own business and he has recently employed Foundation Degree in Horticulture (Landscape Construction) graduate Ben Thomas.
Lanwarne Landscapes offers four main services: landscape and garden design, construction, horticulture and consultancy. James won the Tradesperson of the Year award thanks to his passion and dedication, as well as his real commitment to exceeding customer expectations, which has led to over 80% of the company’s business coming from recommendations or returning clients.
Karren Brady congratulated James, saying: “I was impressed by James’ devotion to providing unique skills and services to his clients. His belief in life-long learning to improve and widen his skillset, coupled with his ambition for business growth, will take him far.”
James won a prize of £2,000 cash and 50,000 Nectar points. He also received face-to-face business advice from Karren at the Nectar Business Round Table event. He plans to use the prize money and points towards his next goal of opening a plant nursery and design centre, enabling his own supply of plants.
“Having the opportunity to get first-hand advice from Karren Brady was invaluable and I asked her for guidance on how I can win business in different market sectors,” he added.
Lanwarne Landscapes was judged by a panel of business experts, including Karren Brady, Nectar Marketing Director James Frost, Brakes Marketing Director David Hughes and Chris Li, founder of Luxury For Less and winner of the Nectar Business Small Business of the Year Award 2012.
James Frost, Marketing Director at Nectar, said: “The Tradesperson of the Year prize was awarded to James because he is an exceptionally qualified tradesperson who has a clear vision carved out for his business’ future. We congratulate him on his success and hope that this award helps him to fulfil his business goals.”