Pitchcare's sister company, Amenity Land Solutions (ALS), is celebrating its 30th Anniversary this year. We take a look back at how it all started and where the company is today.
The History of ALS
ALS was formed in January 1988 by Jonathan Carr and Bob Bolland, who had many years previous experience in amenity and agriculture agronomy. Their objective was to create a specialist amenity horticulture supply company, offering high levels of expertise and good service for the sports turf and amenity planting and landscaping industries.
Jonathan recounts how it all began; "ALS set up shop in an old farm shed just off the A442 near Wellington. We started off with just four staff; Bob Bolland, Tony Howard, Clive Edmunds and I. We were quickly joined by Ted Hughes and Dave Harvey, both very well regarded members of the contracts services. Later the same year, John Riggall joined us, with a good background in horticulture and plant nutrition." Both Dave Harvey and John Riggall are still a large part of the ALS team in the capacity of Contracts Manager and Sales Director respectively.
Jonathan continues; "We had a very bumpy ride over the first six months, with Staffordshire Farmers trying to stop us trading, but we managed to keep our heads above water! Business grew rapidly and profitably on the back of good service and advice in the golf, sports turf and contracts sectors, but after two years we decided to drop the grower market, and instead focus on the landscape market which provided welcome out-of-season winter business."
"We grew steadily in the next twenty years, once the initial problems were overcome. We employed more and more sales and support staff, covering even larger geographic areas and the contracts team established a great reputation for reliable quality services across the Midlands, Wales and also with many of the leading golf courses around the Home Counties."
This attracted a high calibre of employees over the years, a number of which are BASIS qualified, plus Technical Sales Area Representatives and Technical Managers who provide advice and support with site visits and product recommendations. Jonathan adds; "It became clear that we were outgrowing our premises; fortuitously our current Allscott premises became available, which included a large ready-made BASIS approved pesticide store, and excellent warehouse and contracts facilities."
L-r: Jonathan Carr, Bob Bolland, John Richards and Dave Saltman
Merger between ALS and Pitchcare
In 2009, ALS merged with Pitchcare and formed Maxwell Amenity as a parent company.
"As trade grew, one of our customers for whom we delivered increasing amounts of amenity and sports-turf products on behalf of their rapidly expanding online shop, was a Wolverhampton based company called Pitchcare." With an established distribution base and network on the edge of the West Midlands, ALS was the perfect match for the developing Pitchcare. The merger brought together the product, sales and distribution expertise with the online technology and e-commerce specialisms which resulted in the creation of the largest independently owned company in the UK sports turf industry.
Jonathan recalls; "They had a superb customer base of groundsmen and sports facility customers supported by 'Pitchcare Magazine', as well as marketing assets, training, IT and internet skills. They, however, lacked the infrastructure of warehousing, key product distributorships, logistics and field technical staff, as well as the contracts services that ALS had already established. So, when it was suggested that we combine our activities, it was a no-brainer! The merging of the two operations into one took several years to complete, but happily our teams worked well together and have now established a unique presence in our industry." Maxwell Amenity then purchased the Allscott Park premises in 2014 due to the continuous success and expansion of the new business.
Three Decades of Achievements and Growth
Despite ALS arriving at its thirtieth year, we still like to keep things updated and current. In 2015 we launched our new website allowing customers to access products and information on-the-go with mobile and tablet compatibility. Maxwell Amenity's Marketing & Sales Director, Dan Hughes commented at the time; "Purchasing habits have changed for many, certainly with landscapers and grounds care professionals, we felt it was important to provide a site that makes ordering remotely and through multiple devices as easy as possible. This is supported by quality information and reviews, all of which we hope enhances our customer experience."
As well as online content and access to products, for nearly three decades the ALS catalogue has played a big part in informing our customers about our products. Whilst the design may have changed over the years, the concept stays the same and continues to showcase our portfolio of specialist planting and landscaping products.
Throughout the years, we have developed these specialist products to help customers achieve the best possible results, including Rubberloc Tree Ties and Supports, Mycological Mycorrhizal Fungi, Mycorrmax Compost along with Maxwell fertilisers and LM grass seed. We are also distributors for some of the industry's leading brands including: LebanonTurf, Syngenta, DLF, Limagrain, ICL, Aquatrols and Monsanto.
The same year as the new website was launched, our parent company Maxwell Amenity, won the Shropshire Chamber of Commerce Business award. The annual awards are one of the largest business events outside of London. We were nominated for 'Outstanding Customer Service' and 'Apprentice of the Year', which we won.
Maxwell Amenity's Managing Director, Dave Saltman summarises; "Where else can any customer obtain such a wide ranging supply of expert advice, training, products, contracts services and high quality technical information either online, in published format or from field sales technicians?"