From groundsman to greenkeeper, contractor to sales advisor – the experienced Allan Wright has turned his hand to most jobs in the turf and amenity industry.
“In all of the positions that I’ve had in my career, I’ve always looked at the next step as a new challenge,” he said. “I’m certainly not looking to move anywhere else now. I love what I do here, we have great support from the hierarchy of the business and it really is a fantastic company to work for.”
Allan first learnt his craft when he started his journey in the eighties as an apprentice groundsman at Stirling University. By working in a multi-sports facility, he gained broad experience in a variety of sports turf – including golf, football, rugby and cricket.
Having been particularly fond of maintaining the nine-hole golf course at Stirling University, he moved into greenkeeping and went on to work at two different golf clubs.
After seven years he accepted a position as the assistant head groundsman at a private school before Falkirk Football Club came calling. For most of the nineties he was head groundsman at this great Scottish football club.
However, as the millennium approached, Allan felt that it was time to pursue new opportunities outside of the turf and amenity industry. “I started managing a pub, but it didn’t last long,” he said. “Quite honestly, I just didn’t like working inside! I couldn’t wait to get back to what I knew best.”
It was at this point in 2001 that Allan began working for Terra Firma, one of Scotland’s largest specialist suppliers to the amenity and local authority markets. It was the perfect fit.
“The best part of my job is the variety of it all – I like speaking with customers, demonstrating products and I visit a multitude of different sites too. You never know what each day will bring – and I like it that way.”
Terra Firma became part of Agrovista in 2017 and Allan claims his role has not changed. He still gets to do what he loves and that is working with machinery. In fact, Allan has been integral in increasing the company’s groundcare machinery portfolio by adding several key brands such as Pellenc, Kioti and Shibaura, and says that he is incredibly selective when it comes to machinery and partnerships.
“I will only go for what I see real value in and what I believe will be of benefit to our customers. We look for unique products; equipment that we will have exclusivity on. Our portfolio consists of innovative products, – the Pellenc brand is a prime example of that.”
A forerunner when it comes to lithium-ion technology, Pellenc has established itself as the number one choice in the ‘zero emission’ professional power tools market for the maintenance of urban and green-spaces.
“I see battery technology as the way forward,” continued Allan. “It’s something that the whole industry is embracing – particularly local authorities. They are looking at their carbon footprint, the low vibration levels, the cost of fuel and it just all makes sense.”
Allan admits that when he started out as an apprentice groundsman in the eighties, he never could have dreamed of one day using an electric mower or an electric chainsaw to carry out commercial work. However, the industry has moved at an incredibly fast pace and not just in its technological advancements.
“The biggest change I’ve seen throughout my career is the rise in education – and it’s great to see. A lot of people know the science behind a grass plant now, which is a huge change from 35 years ago. In my opinion, the most notable rise in education has been in greenkeeping. I speak to a lot of greenkeepers and golf course managers and they are all very well educated – it will result in a great future for the sector.
“Agrovista is fully committed to the training and development of its people. Back in my day we only had the tools to work with, but now companies such as Agrovista are providing the younger generation with a world of opportunity.”
As Allan says, the Agrovista Academy was created to provide opportunities for every employee to progress, which includes; agronomy and technical training, customer service training, warehousing and logistics training and more. The aim is to provide a framework of learning experiences that will help its staff to continue to develop their key skills and behaviours throughout their career.
While Allan is optimistic about a bright future, he has no plans to stop just yet. When he does, he is looking forward to jumping in his touring caravan and spending more quality time with his wife and two Labradors at their favourite spot in the Moray Firth.
When that time comes, there is no doubt that his name will be fondly remembered in the turf and amenity industry for years to come.
For more information, visit www.agrovista.co.uk/amenity.