- Really pleased to finalise orders on our new fleet of Fiat Ducatos. These new Euro-6 compliant vehicles will enable John O’Conner to reduce our fleet related carbon emissions.
- John O’Conner are now a Centrica Top 100 Employer for Apprentices and are the Winner of the Large Employer of the Year for the East of England
- John O’Conner have acquired Golder Grounds Maintenance. This is a strategic acquisition to offer services in the North of England and Scotland.
- John O’Conner have been selected as a Finalist in the Hertfordshire biz4Biz Awards 2017 programme for Best Apprenticeship Programme.
- We are really pleased to announce that John O’Conner has been selected as a national finalist in the National Apprenticeship Awards Large Employer of the Year Category.
- We are really pleased to announce that John O’Conner has been selected as the Regional Winner in the National Apprenticeship Awards Large Employer of the Year Category for the East of England
The Seasonal Times Newsletter
National Apprenticeship Awards
Welwyn-based Grounds Maintenance company John O’Conner has been selected as a national finalist in the National Apprenticeship Awards Large Employer of the Year category. This follows on from their recent regional award as Large Employer of the Year for the East of England. John O’Conner continues to invest in apprenticeships. In 2016, the company increased the pay rates of their apprentices. Their apprentices also benefit from additional training such as Royal Horticultural Society-hosted master-classes where they receive privileged insight into centuries-old traditional practices combined with modern-day techniques from experienced Park Rangers (former 1950’s apprentices themselves). We are a nation of gardeners. The shortlisting of this local firm for this award promotes horticulture as a key sector and celebrates its UK-wide contribution to the preservation of green spaces, historical and architectural landscapes for future generations.
John O’Conner also celebrated the completion of its redevelopment of its plant and vehicle workshops in Reynards Road; formally opened by the Mayor, Cllr Pat Mabbott, and Welwyn Hatfield MP Grant Shapps at a ground breaking ceremony on November 11th 2016. This re-development represents a significant re-investment of the company’s profits and the provision of a state of the art maintenance facility which will create local jobs and apprenticeship opportunities as it expands further. An additional £1m was also invested in new plant and machinery.
Mayor Pat Mabbott said, “It has been fantastic to formally open the redevelopment. John O’Conner has made a positive contribution to Welwyn Hatfield over the past 47 years and will continue to do so with the creation of more local jobs and apprenticeships, ensuring our borough remains a great place to live, work and invest in the future.”
Three Peakers Ride Again
Six years ago I took part in the UK 3 Peaks 24 hour challenge to raise funds for Greenfingers. We were a group of landscape professionals coming together for a very good cause. Three years later I re-joined the group, this time we decided to go back and climb the 3 highest peaks in Scotland, England and Wales but cycle from the foot of each mountain to the foot of the next in just 5 days. It was a massive challenge for some of us! But the bonus was raising over £26,000 for our industry charity.
This September on Sunday 18th, I will be setting off on my third encounter with the 3 peaks team and Mt Snowdon comes in to play again. This time, two teams of cyclists will set off from Mt Snowdon, one team on road bikes, the other on mountain bikes, both aiming for Lands End. One team will stay on-road, the other will ride exclusively off-road. This time I have swapped my road bike for a mountain bike! Although the scenery will be spectacular it is no picnic – I am cycling over 530km, in just 6 days with a group of fellow horticulturists. We will climb more than the height of Kilmanjaro over the course of the week and over the height of Snowdon each day! It is going to hurt….a lot. And although I have been out on the bike training as much as possible over the last few months, I am not sure that I am ready.
The main purpose of this is to raise funds for a great charity close to my heart, called Perennial. We are hoping to raise £50,000. This may not seem an obvious first choice, but for those in the landscape industry, it can be a lifesaver. There are 500,000 people working in or retired from horticulture in the UK. Many are not well paid and pension provision is poor. In addition, Horticulture has one of the worst rates of workplace injury – perhaps not surprising, given it often involves working at height, in cold and wet conditions and operating machinery. Horticulturists are completely dependent on their good health and physical fitness to be able to work, an accident can have severe consequences for the horticulturist and their family. Perennial exists to support them when the going gets tough, which can be as a result of illness, bereavement or workplace injury. For more information about who and how Perennial helps, visit: http://perennial.org.uk/home/ways-we-can-help/
To donate to the challenge visit https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/MattOC
I’ll post some pictures and an account of the ride here afterwards.
Young Enterprise Company Programme
I had a really enjoyable couple of days with teams from the Hertfordshire Young Enterprise this weekend. I had been asked to join the Mayor of Welwyn Hatfield District Council (WHDC) Cllr Lynne Sparks and Rachel Walsh also of WHDC to judge a mini competition linked to the youth company programme. Sixteen enterprising school student companies had been invited to come and set up trade stands to test their entrepreneurial and business skills.
The teams have been learning how to run real a real company that they have set up themselves, with help and advice from local business volunteers. They have had to elect a board of directors, raise share capital and learn about how to market and finance their chosen product or service.
I was fascinated by the ingenuity, passion and different approaches taken by each student company and always their desire to improve and succeed. Each company had a very different approach from designing and manufacturing products themselves or having other carry out this task to bulk buying products from overseas rebranding and re-selling. One student company came up with the idea of having a recipe book full of simple recipes from top London Restaurants. They had had to contact the restaurants, get permission, check recipes actually worked, design a book and have it printed. Wow! Other companies had designed and manufactured a new style chopping board made from sustainable bamboo, several different phone chargers and phone charging bracelets to unique range of handmade scented candles to name just a few.
It really was a privilege being invited to judge, the bar was very high and it was extremely close between the teams in several of the categories, we certainly had a tough debate to decide who should win. The feedback from the students endorsing the value of this program was also heartening to hear, with particular reference to effective teamwork, and commercial acumen.
I am looking forward to keeping in touch with the programme and find out who goes through to the regional final.