Meet a flower exporter and importer.

Adrian Parsons—WAFEX

Export is important to the Australian flower industry, by providing growers with avenues to sell their product, providing jobs and supporting the trade and economy of our country. Through imports, we get access to new varieties and a consistent and reliable supply of product. The import and export aspects of the industry work hand in hand with the local growing and selling of product, because both play their roles in servicing the demands of the customers.

I was a keen gardener as a kid. I loved turf and wanted to be a curator. I then started work in a local florist and nursery and saw that this area of horticulture offered more diversity. I studied a degree in horticulture and commenced work in local flower wholesaling, so I had an involvement in the trade, sales and marketing aspects of the industry from the early stages of my career. I then spent two years gaining international flower experience in the US, Canada, UK, Israel and Holland. I also worked for a large production nursery in New Zealand while I was at university. Upon returning to Australia I started a wholesaling business which is now twenty-three years old, employs over sixty people and imports and exports to over fifteen countries.

I have a Bachelor of Applied Science degree in Horticulture, which has given me good base skills. We now own two flower farms and so my base horticultural knowledge now has direct benefit. I think education is very important and if I had my time again, I may have followed up my horticulture degree with a sales degree, given my interest and work in the sales and marketing sides of the industry.

Our staff age range would be 20 to 55, many with young children. They enjoy their work and we have many employees in our company who have worked with us for five, ten or more than ten years, which is very satisfying as an employer. It illustrates the satisfying nature of this industry as a career choice.

My day revolves around strategy, looking ahead, developing marketing programs and planning crops for our new farms. I keep a close eye on sales and stay close to clients by visiting markets roughly every week. The hard hours, early starts and long hours can sometimes be physically demanding, and it is crucial that new entrants learn the hands-on tasks before proceeding to management levels. I recommend that they should work some test shifts in a flower-related industry to see how they find the work. You should ask lots of questions, read trade journals to get a feel for new initiatives, and be able to identify the progressive potential employers.

I am very happy in my busy, challenging career. I enjoy working with growers and also the cut-and-thrust of trade and developing marketing strategies to improve demand. I have long-term trade partners around the globe and have made many life-long relationships and friendships in this industry. I like the down-to-earth aspect of the industry, working with hard-working people.

Careers in flowers and foliage