Here at Coolings we have a dedicated team who have been with us for many years. As you may know, Ian Hazon is our Production & Operations Director, and he shares some of his experiences over the years.
Have you had an interest in plants for a long time?
My parents and grandparents were all keen gardeners. Several members of my family also had farms with livestock and growing crops so I guess it was inevitable that some of it would rub off on me. At the age of about 12 I realised you could take a packet of seeds and turn them into plants which could be sold for extra pocket money. I soon bought a second-hand greenhouse and went on from there. My first Saturday job was selling plants at my Uncle’s shop and following work experience from school, I started at a commercial nursery.
So how long have you worked at Coolings?
Following my training, 3 years of which was spent studying commercial horticulture, I started at Coolings in August 1991, some 22 years ago. The position for Glasshouse Production Foreman was advertised on a card on the jobs board at college. Over the years I took control of the glasshouse production as Michael Cooling retired and in January 2009 I was appointed a Director.
What’s it like being Production & Operations Director?
The role is very varied but enjoyable and rewarding with its fair share of challenges. With crop production alone no two years are ever the same so we are constantly tweaking the cropping, trying to ensure the Nursery is growing the right amount of plants. Being involved with planning the developments at Coolings means we are always trying to look ahead at what might be needed in the future, we are not just building a business for today.
What is a typical day for you?
During the spring I try to devote most of my time to the Nursery. We have a very capable team ensuring all the tasks get done. Once the spring season is over I concentrate on plant orders for the following year and the other projects the company is working on. Recently this has been the refurbishments in Arthurs, looking ahead we now have planning permission for the redevelopment of the Shop.
What has been your favourite experience whilst working for Coolings?
There really have been many but it has been great to see the business grow to meet the needs of our customers. Watching members of the team succeed in their roles and gain promotion is also very rewarding. Coolings celebrated its centenary this year and it was wonderful to share this occasion with the team when we all went to the House of Commons for dinner, accompanied by Peter Seabrook who I remember watching on lunchtime television, Pebble Mill At One, when I was quite young. I did share this with him and he muttered something about feeling old…
Thank you for taking time out of your busy day to talk to us, Ian.