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.

What went on Up the Creek last weekend

Sienna, 6, Kelby, Izac, 8, and Claire Miller all got well into the festival spirit of the Mount Sylvia State School's inaugural Up The Creek festival.

Spot yourself in our gallery of pictures from the event.

Growcom shines light on updates to horticulture code

POTATO PICKERS: File photo of a Queensland potato farm. Mr Bishop believes the new code will clamp down on dodgy business practices in the horticultural industry.

One Upper Tenthill farmer said the changes will be "good for all”.

Meet Gatton's gorgeous cop and stunner girlfriend

Mason Jago and his girlfriend Tayla Lange.

We talk dogs, day-trips and community policing with Constable Mason

Local Partners

Boy, 15, arrested after stolen BMW highway pursuit

UPDATE: A teenage boy is one of three people arrested in dramatic scenes on the Warrego Hwy earlier today.

Jemma's bewitching voice

STAGE PRESENCE: Suzie Mathers and Jemma Rix in a scene from Wicked The Musical.

Wicked musical theatre star Jemma Rix has released her debut album.

This laughter yoga video will have you in fits of giggles

BEST MEDICINE: Karen Flannery is spreading happiness through laughter throughout Hervey Bay.

New members needed for a laughing good time

Dancers show off skills at Toowoomba Eisteddfod

Milla Rowbotham and Rebecca Gill from All Star Dance Academy .Toowoomba Eisteddfod, Empire Theatre. August 2017

Poems and dances dominated the 72nd City of Toowoomba Eisteddfod

OPINION: Bachelor really crossed the line

Leah’s abrupt Bachelor exit is slut-shaming at its worst.

Marvel stars tease superhero epic

The four year wait for Marvel's The Defenders is over.

The Defenders stars on their long-awaited superhero team-up.

Mighty models in full flight

Images for the upcoming Large Model Fly In at Gratton Airfield.

"If the weather stays like this it will be the best event ever.”

The two stars who intimidated Chris Hemsworth

Chris Hemsworth was intimidated by two other Hollywood stars.

Thor star says he was ‘weirdly shaken’ when he met two other actors.

Sam Newman: How a Playboy magazine changed everything

The new crew of The Footy Show.Source:Supplied

How a Playboy magazine changed everything.

Leah slams Matty: ‘I was incredibly disappointed’

Leah says she was ‘incredible disappointed’ with Matty J.

BACHELOR evictee's controversial chat with Kyle and Jackie O.

John Eales finds peace with the haka

Inia Maxwell and John Eales in a scene from the documentary John Eales Reveals: The Haka.

Rugby legend is on a quest to learn about a sacred Maori tradition/

4800 homes to be built in massive new Coast estate

Masterplanned community full steam ahead - it's not Caloundra South

Open for inspection homes August 17 - 23

Check out this weekend's homes open for inspection.

Airbnb, Stayz and co tipped to squeeze Coast housing market

HOLIDAY BOOM: Airbnb letting is putting a further squeeze on long-term rentals.

Councils exploring options to manage the industry

How we got a rental straight away on the Coast

Rita and David Allara, moved down from Townsville, paid three months up front rent to secure the place at flash new unit block in Kings Beach.

Genius move helps secure rental property

Developer tears up couple's contract for new home

Jade and Edward Roberts were stung by the sunset clause on the first day of their honeymoon.

The developer has the right to do this under the sunset clause

Ready to SELL your property?

Post Your Ad Here!