Delivering gypsum to get plastered


This rather impressive facility is part of the Knauf plasterboard factory near Sittingbourne. It has one of the fastest production lines in Europe and was custom-built on a green-field site for Knauf in 1988. At the same location, they also have a plant prodcuing a wide range of gypsum plaster and jointing products.

Gypsum is also sold by us for agricultural purposes. It is a good source of sulfur and calcium for plant nutrition and for stimulating root growth. It improves acid soils, sometimes even more so than lime, and also improves soil structure to help water infiltration, as well as drainage. Finally, it helps to keep phosphorus and other nutrients from draining off farm fields.

Family business


Last week Helen (left, above) was presented with a Tissot watch at a small reception (in the Gardenscape #1 shed) for her 25 years with the John Bourne Group of companies. And the week before, Cathy presented all of us with a super lemon drizzle cake, in celebration of her 30 years with the Group. And, as you can tell if you look carefully above, they are sisters. But you certainly couldn’t tell from the photo that together, they have spent 55 years at The Wharf!

Cathy is now our Accounts Administrator and actually controls the most important purse strings in the company, namely those related to wages, salaries and bonuses. However, in her career she has handled most aspects of operations in John Bourne & Co, starting with purchase ledger entries and sheer typing, not to mention controlling the CB radio that was the only means of contacting the drivers back in the days before mobile telephony. (And Telex – if you can remember that, you are showing your age!) She also dealt with haulage tickets and transport routing – not to mention being Peter B’s PA at one stage.

Helen’s job title is Sales Assistant and apart from sales at Gardenscape, she also provides backup for other functions within the company. She, too, has seen many aspects of the Group operations, starting as a temporary receptionist, doing various clerical work and providing the logistics function at Bourne Amenity when it became a separate company.

While Cathy started her work career elsewhere, Helen started her first job at Bourne’s – her sister helped her find a temporary receptionist job after returning from a gap year in Australia (a time when most of us would feel the need for a secure income) – and the temporary position rapidly became permanent. In fact, she had even done some work experience at the company, aged 15. Now that’s devotion!

The sisters grew up on the family farm in Rolvenden, and both still live locally. They have two brothers, one of whom also has worked for the Group in the past. It is not, then, surprising to find that they both rate the family and community aspects of the business as particularly important. Working at Bourne’s gives a sense of belonging and perhaps also of staying with the farming roots of the family – actual farming on a small farm not being a practical option these days.

Now they both have families of their own and, whereas Cathy’s daughter is sufficiently grown up that she also has time for some voluntary work locally, Helen’s children are still young enough to keep her fully occupied when she is not at work. But they both like travelling on holiday – Cathy’s family often to France and Helen’s to the West Country – and they both love Scotland, where their maternal grandmother was born. It is certainly possible to detect the older sister/younger sister personalities, though neither of them are willing to say that the other was in any way difficult to have as a sibling. But maybe they were just on best behaviour for the joint interview!

Few personal stories could better illustrate the advantages both for staff and for the company of working in a family environment. There is also no doubt that customers and suppliers can feel the warmth and friendly attitude of these lovely sisters – as do all their colleagues!

May competition results; June competition starts!


This was a really difficult competition to judge. Ashley supplied an absolutely superb picture from Sevenoaks, replete with company logos and of very high photographic quality. It was tweeted out on the JB & Co account and practically went viral (well, by our standards anyway). I will be using that picture a great deal in future company promotions.

However, the photo competition is also about showing the company at work in different situations and additional points are awarded for originality of composition. Therefore, on reflection, the May prize goes to Phil for the above effort. A similar picture taken at the same time also did very well on Twitter, but this one, recognisably showing Rye on the hill in the background, with two lorries in action, is this month's winner!

For June, I will be looking for pictures that do not include lorries, or at least, where the lorry is not the main subject. The photos still have to feature a Bourne Group logo (perhaps a Gardenscape one this time?), and they have to be taken this month and submitted to the competition before close of business on 29th June (since the 30th is a Saturday). Good luck - keep those lovely photos coming!

The Heathfield Show


The annual Heathfield show was held on Saturday with a solid JB Group presence. Our welcoming stand featuring both Gardenscape and JB & Co lorries and products attracted not only many visitors, but also a first prize for Best Agricultural Stand (under 12 metres). Well done Nicola for creating a friendly and informative layout with just two lorries, 14 bulk bags and three hanging baskets!

It was a fantastic day for the show - wall-to-wall sunshine and an enthusiastic crowd of visitors. The displays were, as ever, very impressive and since our stand is right next by the main ring, we even got to see some of them. However, the stand was very busy with visitors and we had a great number of enquiries, both for the agricultural materials and from keen gardeners.

The stand design works well - the lorries and flag can be seen from all over the showground. And the hanging baskets were a notable and favourably commented-upon feature (can you spot all three of them in the featured photo?). It didn't take too much engineering expertise to put the gazebo up, either! Our catering supplies were much appreciated, with a keg of Level Best taking pride of place. Despite Peter's and my best efforts we didn't quite manage to finish it...

RHS Chelsea Flower Show


Lindsey and I had a great trip to the RHS Chelsea show yesterday - the weather provided a useful watering boost to the gardens in the morning (that's a polite way of saying we were totally drenched on the way across Chelsea Bridge) and then obliged with sunshine from midday onwards.

As you might imagine, the garden and floral exhibits were stunning - people were standing three deep to get near the show gardens. The Group is fortunate enough to have supplied four magnificent gardens:

  • Conway Landscaping - the Embroidered Minds Epilepsy Garden
  • Frosts Landscape Construction Limited - trade stand for Gaze Burvill Limited
  • Randle Siddeley - the LG EcoCity Garden
  • Senseless Acts of Beauty - the Pearlfisher Garden

It wasn't very easy to get to talk to anybody though - the show was very crowded. In total we spent about five hours at the show - and more or less the same time travelling there and back. London traffic!