Back in the early 1960s, steelworker Jack Moody, a groundsman’s son, tired of his work in the foundries and wood mills.
At the age of 17, he invested in a rake, a fork and a shovel, fastened the tools of his trade to his bicycle and pedalled off round the West Midlands to set up his own landscape construction business.
Now 50 years on, Jack Moody Holdings PLC has a turnover of around £16million, a staff of over 250, and has won numerous awards and accreditations, having become leading experts in the construction and maintenance of living landscapes.
His businesses now includes one of the UK’s largest independent garden centres, Hollybush Garden Centre, situated between Cannock and Wolverhampton, as well as the country’s leading purpose-built recycling facilities, and industry renowned Jack Moody Landscapes Limited. Just last year saw the completion of the popular Hollybush Garden Centre development, which now houses new shops, a coffee shop and restaurant and additional showroom space.
It’s a far cry from Jack’s first foray into the world of landscaping, which involved mostly domestic gardens, with him working alongside two assistants. One of them, Gordon Griffiths, is still with the company today as Contracts Director.
Today its numerous successes include subsidiary nurseries and aquatic centres, major recycling sites at Stafford, Telford, Berkswell near Solihull – the recycling business has steadily expanded and now has contracts with numerous local authorities to receive and process their green waste. It also works with some prestigious major house builders on show home landscaping – including Barratt, Bovis, Persimmon, Redrow and Cala Homes.
Jack Moody Ltd and Hollybush have won several contracts and numerous awards including three separate medals from BBC Gardener’s World Live, and several BALI (British Association of Landscape Industries) environmental awards.
Among the more innovative contracts have been the installation of a roof garden at a Lichfield care home, the prestigious landscaping contract at the FA training ground at St George’s Park, Burton on Trent, and, for the first time ever in the UK, the setting up of courtyard landscaping using only edible plants, undertaken for Coventry University.
Despite the current economic climate, the company has risen to the challenge and worked harder than ever to maximise both opportunities and existing business.
In the last 12 months the company’s recycling business has seen record activity with expansion of the existing business and the opening of two new sites in the West Midlands.
The last year has also seen significant work in the development of sustainable fuels. The design and development of new technology and the utilisation of material produced from the recycling business has ensured that for the last four years the entire business site – spread over 55 acres – is self-sufficient for both heat and power, significantly reducing its carbon footprint and allowing the company to sell power back to the National Grid.
After 50 years in business it still is very much a family business – Jack’s wife June has worked alongside him for 45 years, his son Robert is Managing Director and daughter Kate is Hollybush’s Business Development Manager. Many of the staff have worked at the company for over 20 years. One such loyal member of staff was Tim Porter, who managed the aquarium and aquatics centre at Hollybush and who worked for the company for 30 years. Sadly, Tim died earlier this year after losing his fight against cancer. Now the company is setting up a Charity Trust Fund in his name which will go on to benefit the community in a very generous way.
Right from its inception, Jack Moody’s business has been one of a hands-on approach and a strong work ethic. With father and son at the helm, and a tight management structure, the company is well placed to react quickly to events and its foresight is second to none.
Long term, the company’s ambition is continued organic growth focusing on key areas of the business, maintaining stability throughout the group by maintaining a high standard of work and continuing to offer staff longevity and job security. The company will continue to ‘use local’ and offer sustainable products and services.
It’s been a long ‘bike ride to success for Jack from the steel foundries of the Midlands to its present success, but he has never lost sight of the things that really matter in life – and the result is a caring ethos which spills over into the community leading to the forward-thinking company having a much respected reputation.