Business Couples Secret Sauce

Peter & Ruth Donnelly - Coachwood Nursery - (specialist nursery and dried flower emporium)

January 03, 2021 Marcus Nicholls and Ariel Endean
Business Couples Secret Sauce
Peter & Ruth Donnelly - Coachwood Nursery - (specialist nursery and dried flower emporium)
Show Notes Transcript

Description

They say in business, you need to constantly evolve to survive. Well, boy is this the case with Coachwood Nursery that has been adapting and pioneering in the plant business for 50 years. Listen in to hear how Ruth & Peter have achieved ongoing success in both love and their retail nursery/dried flower emporium through good times and bad.

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Some Secret Sauce highlights from this episode:

#1 

You have to be prepared to think outside the normal box. You have to be prepared to consider all possibilities and options to change your business if it's not working.  We've had to do that to survive.  

#2

You don't want to come home at the end of the day's work and just talk about the business because you really do need to have some space and get away from it. It's important to have other outlets, apart from the business so you can get a break from work and each other. It’s very important to have separate interests as well.

 #3

We’re always looking for ways of doing things better. And we've always been experimental even now.  Always improving and rising to the challenge. We rarely do the same thing twice in a row. 


Bio & History

Coachwood Nursery was registered with the Department of Agriculture in the 1970's and then expanded when Ruth married Peter in 1979. 

Peter completed his training in Horticulture at the Hawkesbury Agricultural College and Ruth at the Ryde Horticultural College. 

Ruth managed an Indoor Plant Shop at Wamberal while building a wholesale nursery at Matcham. Peter worked at a retail nursery at Erina Heights, then joined Ruth at Coachwood Nursery. 

They also initiated and built a new retail garden Centre at Foresters Beach, which they sold after two years to focus on their wholesale nursery at Matcham. 

They moved the nursery to a larger site at Somersby in the 1990's. 

For decades they exhibited at Garden Show around Australia and are now open to the public each month at special Open Days and hold regular onsite workshops and at other businesses on the Central Coast. 

They are passionate gardeners. 

Peter's main focus is edible plants and Ruth's is ornamental. 

Both both love all types of plants.


Marcus Nicholls  0:05  
Hi, we're your hosts Marcus and Ariel and you’re listening to Business Couples Secret Sauce,

Ariel Endean  0:10  
where we interview business couples and share their tips and tricks on building a successful business without it destroying their relationship.

Marcus Nicholls  0:24  
Hello, today we are in some New South Wales chatting to Peter and Ruth from Coachwood nursery. Welcome to the show, Peter. 

Peter Donnelly  0:32  
Thanks very much. Pleasure.

Ariel Endean  0:33  
Welcome. So Ruth, I love the story of coachwood nursery as in how it got its name. Can you tell us a little about how it did get its name because this is not the suburb of Coach wood and we're not on Coachwood road?

Ruth Donnelly  0:48  
It's amazing how many people remember how we started, you know, being in Coachwood road at Matcham. That's where I grew up and my parents had a hobby farm then and they encouraged me with gardening and gave me plants and then it just snowballed. And I decided to call it Coachwood nursery after just living in Coachwood road.

Ariel Endean  1:15  
So it was your own little stand out the front of the property was it?

Ruth Donnelly  1:19  
It was interesting because we were on 13 acres. And mama dad's home was fairly high up on on the hill and it was too far to walk up and down. It was a fairly steep hill. So I ended up wholesaling, growing plants and selling them to retail nurseries on the Central Coast.

Ariel Endean  1:38  
Wow. 

Marcus Nicholls  1:39  
And how old were you at this point in time?

Ruth Donnelly  1:41  
I was 14 when I registered it as in the Department of Ag in Gosford. I walked into the office and said look, I want to start a nursery and I want to call it coachwood rd nursery. Okay, fill out this application form. Pay the fee and that's how it started. 

Ariel Endean  2:01  
And it didn't matter that you were 14?

Ruth Donnelly  2:03  
No.

Ariel Endean  2:05  
Didn't require parents signature?

Ruth Donnelly  2:07  
No, I don't think so. Actually, I can't remember whether that was the case. But no, because I guess I was doing agriculture at school at Gosford high and coming from a family that was business orientated. It wasn't hard. It was sort of like it wasn't even a second thought. And then yeah, by the time I was 16, it was really exciting. I was getting advice from other people in the industry. They were all encouraging me. Everyone started to give me cuttings and plants. So it really did snowball.

Ariel Endean  2:42  
Fabulous. I love that you've kept the name. And here we are so many years later still doing plants.

Ruth Donnelly  2:48  
So Peter married into the business.

Ariel Endean  2:51  
For better or for worse!

Peter Donnelly  2:54  
I'd say for better. Definitley.

Marcus Nicholls  2:58  
That's great. It's great that you had that entrepreneur gene to start something at 13 or 14. I mean, it's just wonderful to see and that you've made a success of it. 

Ruth Donnelly  3:12  
Yes.

Marcus Nicholls  3:13  
You know, through all the ups and downs. 

Peter Donnelly  3:16  
It's been good. 

Marcus Nicholls  3:18  
Congratulations, you know. It's just wonderful. Peter you mentioned that you have a passion for edible plants. What does this mean and where did this interest come from?

Peter Donnelly  3:30  
Well, what it means is this that we derive our income from the nursery, but my passion has always been fruits and vegetables. And I guess it goes back to before I started training in horticulture. I was doing a degree in surveying. I did two years of that degree. And then I went overseas and traveled. And when I was traveling overseas mainly through Asia. I just developed a real interest in the cultures of innovation, and then the people working the land. So I came back from that trip and I just had a different focus on life. I thought I want to be a farmer. 

Marcus Nicholls  4:09  
Wow. 

Peter Donnelly  4:11  
So I did a two year Diploma in horticulture, at the Hawkesbury Agricultural College, then, which is now the University of Western Sydney. And that's where the passion developed. And their main focus there was horticultural farming, so fruits and vegetables, and all the people who are doing that course we're very passionate about, you know, that sort of thing. So that's why it really developed and I've still got it in my  blood. I love it. And I mean, my family history goes back, which I've researched and more often than not, both sides of my family their original occupation was as gardeners. So I guess it's in the genes as well. 

Marcus Nicholls  4:58  
Absolutely genetics. 

Peter Donnelly  4:59  
Yes.

Ariel Endean  5:00  
Back in the day I know from my parents (my mom's 94) and she refers to the fact that everyone had their garden of vegetables because you just simply didn't have enough money to go and buy all your fruit and vegetables. It was just simply the standard thing. You grow your own pumpkins and squash and tomatoes and things because you had to or as a supplement to save on the money that you didn't have to spend on food. So it was standard. Pretty much every household had a little fruit and veggie garden.

Peter Donnelly  5:32  
Yeah, every house on a quarter acre block had a garden. Dad did the veggies and mum did the flower garden. It was a pretty standard thing.

Ariel Endean  5:39  
Well times have changed. Well we noticed your interest in edible plants on  your website and were interested. Okay, so what are your roles in the business and how did you work this out? And have they changed over time? 

Peter Donnelly  5:52  
Well, I guess we've both wanted to be in growing and farming. Going back to my beginnings in horticulture I wanted to be a farmer and Ruth wanted to be a nursery industry woman. But it didn't take long for me to realize that to become a farmer was a very difficult thing. You need a lot of capital. And when I met Ruth, and we started to, you know, get an interest in each other. Ruth said, you know, you really should get an interest in nursery, which I started to develop. So it sort of developed from there. And after we got married, I worked a few years in surveying and Ruth worked casually even before we got married in a garden center. So I guess I just moved into that area, as a matter of course. It was just the way it happened. 

Ariel Endean  6:45  
It made sense.

Peter Donnelly  6:46  
It made sense and it was easier to start a career in nursery, then in farming. So I naturally sort of moved into that direction. 

Ariel Endean  6:56  
And in terms of the roles now how, how does it work because there's a lot of moving parts to running a business. It's not just the growing of plants obviously.  Probably that's the easier bit than getting your product to market.

Unknown Speaker  7:07  
I guess that has changed a little bit. I was doing most of the delivereies. We had a truck, and we had to do a lot of deliveries. I was handling more of the landscape side of the business. So dealing with landscapers. Growing the bigger plants because we were growing plants that were quite big at that stage. Big 100 liter things that were quite heavy. Required a lot of tracktor work and things like that. And Ruth was doing more of the propagation which is a little bit more detailed. And Ruth was very good at that and she got very quick at it and she learned that in her training. 

Peter Donnelly  7:08  
So Ruth you were doing the smaller plants and Peter you were working with the bigger plant.

More the landscape side of it and Ruth was doing more of the nursery side with propagation.

Ruth Donnelly  7:53  
So when you start off a plant there's the whole process of getting roots on each particular cutting or each particular plant and multiplying it. So I was doing most of that but Peter specialized in grafting which is another type of propagation which is more specialized and actually quite difficult to get a good result. So Peter developed his own techniques for that which are not used very much anymore and we need to share that information.

Unknown Speaker  8:23  
Yeah, grafting. So grafting is part of the fruit tree trade. Everyone learned how to graft. I learned at college. Quite a few of us did.  There was a core group of us when I was doing a course that were very interested in grafting. So I sort of learnt it there but you have to teach yourself. You learn the basics when you do your training, but then you have to really practice and just do it and learn the skills. So yes, I develop those skills and we use them in the business too. We used to do a lot of plants that require grafting 

Ruth Donnelly  8:57  
Even "Golden Robinias" and ornamental plants. Remember the tables you set up?

Peter Donnelly  9:02  
Yes, we had all these weird and wonderful techniques to make grafting work, which was needed.

Ariel Endean  9:08  
I love that you've experimented with different ways of doing it rather than just sticking to the tradition of what you were taught.

Peter Donnelly  9:16  
We never stuck to the textbook, the standard way of doing things. I was always looking for a way of doing things better. And we've always been experimental even now. I rarely do the same thing twice in a row.

Ruth Donnelly  9:34  
Always improving and rising to the challenge. There's some plants that actually have to be grafted, because they just will not strike from a cutting and that's the advantage of grafting but there's some plants that you can use what is called a mycorrhizal Association. So you're introducing it as a fungal or group of fungal organisms into your potting mix where you've got your cuttings, and that helps the roots to come out. And so we work with a University on that and ran some trials. So it's interesting and it's fun.

Ariel Endean  10:17  
Gosh it sounds it.

Marcus Nicholls  10:18  
Absolutely. And do you find that there's a limited amount of that at nurseries now. Because nurseries are really more just selling to people versus the people like you who grow. And you're that crossover between being a farmer in the sense that you are actually propagating plants and creating the plants, and then you're also then selling them as well. 

Peter Donnelly  10:46  
So there's two sides, to the horticultural nursery world. The retailers and the wholesalers. So the retailers as you said their main job is to buy the stock in and resell it. So they do very little growing. They might do a little bit of re potting every now and then. We started off doing that. We started off our professional career wwo years in the garden center that we built up from scratch. It was at forresters Beach. And the whole time I was just itching to get out there and grow things because that was what I wanted to do.

Ariel Endean  11:22  
Thats good to find out though. You wouldn't have known that if you hadn't gone and done your retail stint.

Peter Donnelly  11:28  
Yeah. And doing retail is very good. Because you get an idea of what is in demand and what people want and we'd see the stock coming in from the growers and I'd talk to them and ask them questions and how they're growing it and things like that. So yeah, there's the two sides to horticulture and grwoing is really where our passion lies. In the production side of things.

Ruth Donnelly  11:49  
It is. It's called production. So we're primary producers. So we get affected by the weather. Heavy frost. Torrential rain Wind can blow things over. Hail. Bushfires.

Yes. Yes.

Ariel Endean  12:04  
Move to Australia it's such a great country.

Peter Donnelly  12:07  
We've had all of that.

Marcus Nicholls  12:09  
Particularly in the last 12 months, we've had all that havn't we. 

Ruth Donnelly  12:13  
And then there is pest and disease which is just the cherry on the cake. You have to roll with the blows. You actually have to dust yourself off and you know, just continue and, and show perseverance. 

Marcus Nicholls  12:33  
Yeah.

Ariel Endean  12:33  
What I know of how you get your products/plants to market to market, I think you've developed an interesting hybrid for yourself between being producers, and retailers.

Ruth Donnelly  12:34  
We have now.

Ariel Endean  12:46  
Where, you go to set events and markets. So it seems like you get to do the best of both. You don't have to have your shop front seven days a week, but you to get to go and mix with the public directly. Can you explain a bit how this developed? 

Peter Donnelly  13:05  
Well, we were doing wholesale production and selling to retail garden centers, landscapers and builders, for about probably 15 years, maybe 20 years after we had the initial two years in the retail garden center. We've been in the industry now for about 40 years. And then when the flora festival started up here and Kariong we got invited to go into that. So they were asking growers and businesses to go in that so we thought, yeah, we'll give that a go. That started us going to the events. The horticultural events. We were doing that one for about since it started for about probably 10 years, until it stopped and morphed into what's now "The plant lovers fare", which is a smaller version, but a more specialized version. So yes, we started doing events. And that was good, because we were growing the stock and then selling it directly to the public. Which is really good for people because they can come there and talk to the grower. And they're not just talking to the retailer. The retailers are great. I mean, they they're skilled as well. But there is nothing like talking to the grower.

Ariel Endean  14:17  
Yes, you get to be a wholesale, you get to be a wholesale, but a wholesaler most of the time, but then go and get a little bit of retail, and then you can come back to where you're not dealing face to face with the public again, that's right to me like a perfect.

Peter Donnelly  14:33  
It's a very good combination and we ended up doing about four or five major events per year. And then that took up more of our business time as we moved into that direction.  So I got to the stage where we were probably doing 90% of our income was just Garden festivals and events. Ruth can explain what happened when COVID hit and how it affected us.

Ruth Donnelly  15:01  
It has the advantages is that you get instant market research feedback. So you just talking to the customers, you can see what is in trend, what's popular, what is in short supply, and you're getting constant feedback every single day that you are face to face with the public. And those days were sprinkled over a year, in groups of usually two days at a garden show or three days or five days. But the feedback was fantastic. So it enabled us to plan and fill the gaps in the market. And people loved it. And we benefited from it too.

Ariel Endean  15:39  
So would you fill up big truck and head somewhere? Was it all in New South Wales?

Peter Donnelly  15:45  
It started off in New South Wales but we ended up going to the biggest one in Australia, which is in Melbourne. The Melbourne International flower and Garden Show. And that was our biggest annual event. 

Ariel Endean  15:56  
The logistics of getting the plants there boggles my mind.

Ruth Donnelly  16:00  
It's half a semi trailer load, 

Ariel Endean  16:03  
wow. 

Ruth Donnelly  16:03  
And all packed in crates, and then unpacked at the other end, and then packed back up again. It takes about 11 days,

Marcus Nicholls  16:11  
I can see a lot of work in that.

Ruth Donnelly  16:14  
Just from the time you leave to the time you come back is 11 days. But it was really well worth it. Because people in Melbourne are just crazy about gardening. And they don't ask you any questions. I just want that plant.

Peter Donnelly  16:29  
And you're so busy you have no time to answer questions.

Ruth Donnelly  16:31  
No, that's right.

Ariel Endean  16:32  
I love the way that you've been open to evolving the business to, even after such a big wack of time doing in a particular way, what you'd say is a traditional model. Although it happened, as a happenstance by doing one festival, essentially, a few kilometers from here, I like the way you've, you know, picked up the ball and run with it.

Marcus Nicholls  16:51  
And even so much now, that COVID came in, which has unfortunately cancelled all those shows certainly for this year, and maybe for the next year as well, depending on what actually happens. You've had to readapt again?

Ruth Donnelly  17:06  
Yes. Actually I think that for somebody in business, it's one of the most important things to keep in mind that you might have to change what you do. That you can't think that you've achieved it, you've got it all organized and then I'm gonna stick with that for the rest of my life. It's actually quite serious if you if you have that attitude. So you've got to be prepared to change, adapt, and it's reworking your business. So it's a lot of work.

Peter Donnelly  17:43  
So we had another change again less than 12 months ago when all of the garden festivals were canceled. It was only two weeks out from Melbourne our biggest show of the year taht it got cancelled. 

Ariel Endean  17:55  
So you had a ton of stock.

Peter Donnelly  17:56  
Yeah

Ruth Donnelly  17:57  
And we still have a ton of stock!

Peter Donnelly  17:59  
It took 12 months planning to do that big show. And then two weeks before the event it was cancelled. We could see it looming and we were wondering, will it happen? will it happen? And the Grand Prix is on about the same time, I think the same weekend most of the time. We thought if I cancel the Grand Prix we're finished. And they canceled the Grand Prix not long after that. So that was it. That was the end of that we had flights booked and freight booked and site fees paid for. So that that finish that and finished the other ones that we do as well. And we had to all of a sudden, think, well, what are we going to do now? With all this stock. So we decided then we had to open the nursery up and have open days selling plants from the nursery to the public. And we've been doing that since then. We've had about five open days. And it's usually the last Friday and Saturday of the month. And we've had to re skill in social networking. It's been a learning curve.

Ruth Donnelly  18:58  
Because when you're an exhibitor, it's all done for you. You pay your site fee and then the organization does all of the marketing. So it was a crash course in social media and  working that out

Ariel Endean  19:16  
Just getting the word out there that you're here and that you have amazing plans and that you're open two days a month.

Ruth Donnelly  19:22  
Yes. And and by appointment and it's developing. It's also going into areas which you know, are going to start trending, like we're doing now a lot of dried flowers, and dried foliage and a lot of natural things that were so popular when I was a teenager in my 20s.

Ariel Endean  19:40  
And it's back in fashion!

Ruth Donnelly  19:41  
It's completely back. So I started to do this a few years ago. I just started to pick things up, keep things and find things on our property and it's now really starting to take off but it was very quiet to begin with because we were ahead of the trend, you know. You could see it happening. But it's good that I feel like I'm ready and we're going to develop that a bit. We've just booked a couple of website names and domain names, I should say. And we're going to sort of develop that, because we actually have no choice if we want to pay our bills. And I guess I was thinking while you were talking, Peter, when we started our business, there was no help from the government. Not a cent. It was all sheer had work and really long hours. And nowadays getting a financial supplement with the COVID, we had one financial supplement between two. That helped us and that was the first time that we'd ever had help, as I just mentioned. 

Marcus Nicholls  19:54  
And that's over 40 years.

Ruth Donnelly  20:53  
You learn to be self reliant and self sufficient. And you get in the mindset where you have to cope. You've got to work hard. And you've got to think how are we going to pay our bills, and you just do it! You don't have any other option. So we are both in that reality.

Ariel Endean  21:16  
I admire your grit and determination, especially like it sounds as though there's been some points where you've been cruising, happy, you know, this is nice. We've got a nice amount of income. Like most businesses, and then to have this happen to you 40 years in to suddenly have to be in startup mode again. in a way. 

Ruth Donnelly  21:35  
Yeah, we're completely re launching our business.

Ariel Endean  21:40  
That's a bit of a shock to go from, I guess, 

Marcus Nicholls  21:43  
A mature business back to a a startup. Almost.

Ariel Endean  21:47  
Not quiet, because you've obviously got all of the development of your knowledge, and your assets, so not quite but having to get back into that headspace, I guess where you happen to think okay, well, how can we get new products, and all that in terms of the survival of the business depends on it.

Marcus Nicholls  22:06  
Absolutely. Communication is the key to a successful relationship. How do you communicate with each other? What methods do you use for your communication between the two of you?

Peter Donnelly  22:19  
Um, that's an interesting one. I think it's a matter of getting the balance right. Because you don't want to come home at the end of the day's work and just talk about the business the whole time, because you really do need to have some space and get away from it.

Ariel Endean  22:35  
And you guys live on site. That makes it harder. You literally walk 100 meters or 30 meters to where your buisness is. You can even see it from your house windows.

Peter Donnelly  22:48  
Well, I found it very difficult to turn off from the business on the weekends, you know, to just have a break, when it's always there. You walk out of the house, and you're living there, and there's all your stock, there's your business right there. So it took me a few years to get used to being able to just cut off and sort of almost pretend it wasn't there. Communicating. I think we've always been fairly good at communicating with each other. Very few real arguments, I think about things. And obviously, we have our differences of opinion in the business. And Ruth's expertise is more in the propagation side of things. 

Ruth Donnelly  22:48  
Yeah. And marketing

Peter Donnelly  23:11  
My expertise is mostly with pests, diseases and the production side of thing. So whenever an issue comes up, we sit down and talk about it. And as I said, sometimes we will disagree. But from my point of view, if I think Ruth is more skilled in a certain area where we have to make a decision, I'll say, Look, that's fine. If it's in propagation, for instance, or marketing, you know what to do with that particular part of the marketing? I'll say, Look, your better at that than me so you just run with that.

Ruth Donnelly  23:56  
Yeah, it's actually a matter of trust. I will run by things, you know, with Peter, a lot. I'll just find him wherever he is. And say look I want to do this, what do you think of this? So I'm always asking his opinion. And we used to do that with our staff. We would run things by them all the time, just to get feedback to make sure that you haven't got sort of a crazy idea. You've got to have other peoples view. It's good to have a balanced view, and making sure that your idea is not harebrained. Actually, it's a good idea or your decision that you're going to make good might be a bad one.

Peter Donnelly  24:37  
It's good to involve staff too. So they feel as though they're playing a part in the decision making.

Ruth Donnelly  24:42  
So constantly working with staff, you're running things by them and you're getting their opinion. I think it's nice to get advice. So we do we run things by our staff and each ohter. Occasionally I'll dig my heels in if I if I want to do something and I know It's right. 

Ariel Endean  25:00  
And, you know, you're sure.

Peter Donnelly  25:03  
That's when I drive out and go surfing.

Ariel Endean  25:07  
I imagine it works in reverse, if it's an area that you're more skilled in, like, the grafting, for instance, or some area like pest control. Yeah, that I imagine Ruth would go, "Well, I think this but really, at the end of the day, this is your area of expertise". You're deferring to a higher skill level, I guess.

Peter Donnelly  25:25  
And you soon sort that out when you're in business together. You start to realize that you both have different skills, and you both have different strengths and weaknesses in certain areas and when you acknowledge that and work it out between yourself, I think it works really well.

Ruth Donnelly  25:41  
Yeah, but I've never had a problem with Peter spending money. I am not a high spender. I'm very careful with what I spend. And so there's a great level of trust, if I need to go and get something I don't even have to run by Peter, right? You kno. I just go and get it, whatever I need. And so that level of trust has been helpful in our business relationship but I know that can be a problem for some businesses, and some women. You know, they are just spendthrifts and they are not careful and judicious with their finances. And that, you know, can be disastrous for business

Ariel Endean  26:24  
Money generally causes a lot of stress in relationships and in business. But another aspect here is even if when you say you were running something past Peter, I know when we were running our previous business, Marcus ran farm equipment stuff and he'd come and say, Look, I'm thinking about buying this Bobcat or this Bobcat and I've decided I'm pretty close to buying this one. I just want to know what are your thoughts? And honestly, I don't know or care much about Bobcats but I did feel respected that he had asked me and was respecting the fact that it was our collective money, I guess that he was about to spend on a bobcat which was a big-ish price ticket item.

Marcus Nicholls  27:01  
My midlife crisis purchase.

Ariel Endean  27:02  
Yeah. Yeah, a red digger. But so sometimes it's even that, even though you know, possibly, but the other person is just going to say, Well, look, it's your area, and you've obviously researched it. I get it, I trust you to just go with that one, if you've decided on that.

But it was good. I still felt respected that I was even asked not just that a bobcat arrived.

Peter Donnelly  27:27  
Yes, thats right.

Ariel Endean  27:29  
Nice. Okay, so this question is what's your current biggest challenge in running this business and how are you tackling this? So we've discussed this a little bit in terms of COVID, obviously, and having to change, how you getting your stock to customers and how you're finding the customers? but possibly within that dynamic, what would you find is the biggest challenge within that and how are you tackling it.

Peter Donnelly  27:56  
I think it has been upskilling in social media and networking and getting used to the whole way that business works now on that sort of, you know, social networking side of things. We've never really had too much to do with that. And that's been a big learning curve and I've sort of handed that over to Ruth because better at it.

Ariel Endean  28:18  
Yes you were saying that marketing's you're area of skill strength.

Ruth Donnelly  28:20  
Yes. When I did plant development we would have a new plant, for instance. And we would release it so that we would ship the propagation material right around Australia and overseas and we would have a coordinated marketing campaign where we would have all the nurseries releasing it at the one time. So it was like a new release plat. But those were the days where you took slides. Your photographs were slides, and you'd send off a slide photograph to the magazines by mail.

Peter Donnelly  28:20  
You have a media release.

Ariel Endean  28:56  
I'm that person too. I'm not laughing at you. I'm laughing with you.

Ruth Donnelly  28:59  
Yeah, no, no. And it's so interesting, you know that you take a really good slide, a really good clear, not high resolution, just a really good slide. And so you would send them off to all the magazines and all the newspapers, and you would still have a press release, but it would be nothing done by computer and you would post all of the media people are plant in the post. 

Ariel Endean  29:25  
It's interesting you should say this because some people like certainly a 20 year old would be thinking that's so much harder than just taking a photo with your mobile and putting it on Instagram.

Ruth Donnelly  29:34  
It's like 10 times 20 times more work. When we got to the stage where we felt as if we had launched it enough it was like this huge burden rolled off my back because it was like an enormous job doing it with no with no funds. Just doing it all yourself.

Ariel Endean  29:52  
So are you preferring this new model where you get to put it in instagram instantly?

Peter Donnelly  29:55  
I think once we learn how it works we'll be right. There seems to be a few sort of little secrets there that we haven't tapped into yet. Some people seem to have the knack of starting something up and within a week have about 1000 followers or 2000 followers.

Marcus Nicholls  30:12  
I think that's a rarity. Because we always hear about the successes, 

Ariel Endean  30:16  
and the big success stories.

Marcus Nicholls  30:18  
We don't hear about the normal results of this process. And it actually takes time. Generally, if you talk to enough people, you realise taht it actually takes a lot longer than those success stories. Not like, "oh, yeah, I just started my Instagram feed and suddenly I've got 100,000 followers". Yeah right! There is the one in 100,000 that that happens for but on a whole it's like any business. It's just another form of marketing. And it's a hard graft of going okay, well, what suits that particular stream of social media and how am I going to get the followers? And how am I going to find that balance and it just does take time?

Peter Donnelly  30:59  
So maybe we're succeeding at a normal rate? 

Marcus Nicholls  31:02  
Yeah. 

Peter Donnelly  31:02  
It seems as if we're sort of lagging behind but maybe we're not.

Ariel Endean  31:06  
And you're teaching yourself?

Ruth Donnelly  31:07  
Yes,

Peter Donnelly  31:08  
We have had a little bit of help from one of our younger nieces.

Marcus Nicholls  31:12  
Gotta love the younger generation!

Peter Donnelly  31:14  
Everyone says find someone young who's good at it and get their help.

Ruth Donnelly  31:17  
She just started me off on Instagram. I just had three one hour lessons over three weeks. And it was just enough to help me make a poster up and then I said, Okay, I think I just have to do it. And learn from that. So I think I'm on top of Instagram. Facebook's going, Okay. But I'm peppering all my customers, when they come in. I say, "can you put this on your Facebook"? I'm networking with every customer. They walk up with their plants, and I say, How did you find out about us? You know, and  I'm amazed that every single time it's been a different answer. It's not just so and so on Facebook. It's, "I read a tiny little thing in the newspaper" that someone had put there that wasn't me. A Garden editor had put it in.

Peter Donnelly  32:14  
And people still listen to the radio.

And the ABC Saturday morning program. Someone came in on the weekend and said, I heard about you on ABC Radio this morning and I thought great. I know how that works. 

Ariel Endean  32:29  
Fantastic. That's good. Has being in business together changed your relationship? And in what ways?

Peter Donnelly  32:41  
It's a bit difficult to answer that, because we've always sort of been in business, almost from the word go. A lot of people ask a question. They ask us well, how do you keep a good relationship when you're both working in the same business day in day out? Because most people think I could never do that. 

Ariel Endean  33:05  
It's a lot of time together.

Peter Donnelly  33:08  
Yeah.

Marcus Nicholls  33:09  
 And you hear about people who say, there's no way I could work with my partner.

Ariel Endean  33:13  
Yes, we have friends that say oh God no our relationship would not survive working together.

Peter Donnelly  33:20  
I think, for me, it's important to have another outlet, apart from the business that you can get a bit of r&r time to yourself. So for me, it's surfing and going out having a surf once a week, at least to have a break. And we still have our separate interest in life. And I think it's important to have that. Not just to have the business as the main focus, although I guess it is the main focus of your working life, but to have other interests is very important. Separate interests to not just sharing the same interests.

Ariel Endean  33:58  
I would think thats sage advice. Business can just be a monster. It can completely take over everything if you let it. 

Peter Donnelly  34:06  
Yes.

Marcus Nicholls  34:08  
What do you feel Ruth?

Ruth Donnelly  34:10  
It's an interesting question and we do we do get comments a lot. I think it develops as you age into something a little bit more relaxed. And we haven't had too many problems with business because we're like minded in so many areas. So we often agree. We have the same approach to things and there hasn't been that tension. I think, in our marriage, it's been some issues that we've had with our children that have caused tension. It hasn't been the business and, even though, our income goes up and down, being a primary producer, and it's weather affected and you know, you can have a bumper year then you can have a really lean year and thank goodness, our taxation is averaged over a number of years. And that does help. It's more, I don't think it's any problems we've had with businesses its just been, you know, the normal family, kids, you know, the issues that you've had with kids, or we've had a lot of time taken up with, with looking after parents. You know, we've been through that, you know, parents who've had to sell up, gotten sick and sold up the family home and settling them into a retirement village or retirement home. That's for me in more recent years. And before that, Peter's so busy outside doing his own thing, you know, with his area of the business & I'm in my area.

We have somedays where, you know, we won't see each other for more than probably half an hour each day. I'm out doing the property maintenance and looking after the fruit trees and the veggie gardens and Ruth is working in the nursery. So not always working side by side. 

Ariel Endean  36:09  
It's probably a good thing, just as it turned out, because it does give you that break from each other.

Peter Donnelly  36:12  
Yeah, It gives you a bit of space.

Ruth Donnelly  36:14  
It's like having departments within a business. I have certain departments and he has certain departments.

Marcus Nicholls  36:20  
That's great.

Ariel Endean  36:23  
Is there a time that you've considered walking away from your business, or your relationship? Or both?

Peter Donnelly  36:31  
We'll start with a business.

Ariel Endean  36:35  
You don't have to answer all the questions. You can always say pass. 

Peter Donnelly  36:40  
No, no. There have been times when we've thought you know, we're better off just selling out. You know, it's gotten really difficult sometimes

Ruth Donnelly  36:52  
The last really big drought. 

Peter Donnelly  36:53  
The last time, we had a big drought, which was 15 years ago, when a lot of businesses closed. A lot of small business in the horticultural area closed. And we thought, you know, how are we going to survive? And we actually did really struggle for a while for a couple of years, we had trouble paying the bills.

Marcus Nicholls  37:10  
Because you're on tank water here. Right?

Peter Donnelly  37:13  
Yeah, we're on bore water so it wasn't so much keeping our stock alive. Although we did have some real, dramas at one stage with pumps breaking down, stock dying. It was more that the demand for stock had dwindled so much that we were stuck with a lot of stock that we just couldn't sell. And, of course, having overheads and we had that stage about four or five staff. We couldn't pay the bills. I had to ask people, look, I can't pay the bills. Can you just give us an extension of credit?

Ariel Endean  37:45  
Wow, that's hard. 

Ruth Donnelly  37:46  
Yeah, because you don't want to let good staff go? 

Marcus Nicholls  37:49  
No. 

Ruth Donnelly  37:49  
You know, you've trained them, and they want to stay with you. And then you've got to decide, who are you going to let go? It's not easy.

Peter Donnelly  37:57  
So yes, we have had tough times like that.

Ariel Endean  38:00  
Why would the demand of been less?

Peter Donnelly  38:04  
You know, people's gardens were just dying. 

Oh I see. They wouldn't by an expensive plant to put in, because more likely it would die. Oh I Understand.

Yeah, the demand for stock had dwindled so much. And it was even difficult for landscapers because they could only plant plants, if they put in a trickle irrigation system, that would work and they could only have that on for a certain amount of time.

Ariel Endean  38:30  
I just hadn't processed that. So Wow, that sounds so tough.

Peter Donnelly  38:33  
And we were thinking how's the whole industry going to survive at one stage? And that's when we looked forward and thought. Okay, well, you could have just said, That's it, you know, give up. But we thought, okay, we've got to adapt for the changing climate conditions, which were happening then and start growing plants that are more suitable for dry climate planting. Which we did and that's why we're growing a lot of succulents today. That sort of started about them because we're going to general lines of murayas and gardenias and buxes and things that need a fair bit of water and they were just dying in people's gardens.

Ariel Endean  39:15  
And don't do well with a ton of hot sun and heat either.

Peter Donnelly  39:18  
And at that stage virtually no one was using succulents in landscaping. Maybe just the odd one or two but now it's more than 50% of all the plants I think that I've planted.

Ariel Endean  39:29  
Wow - you guys with trendsetters!

Ruth Donnelly  39:31  
Yeah, we were. We actually had it on our own for a long time. And when we used to go to garden shows, we're the only exhibitor that had them. Now it's like

Peter Donnelly  39:43  
- every wholesale nursery has a fair few succulents in their selection.

Ariel Endean  39:50  
And now your point of differences during unusual plants, isn't it? 

Peter Donnelly  39:54  
Yeah. If you're going to have a niche market and be a small grower you need to have a specialist sort of approach where you haven't got the things that everyone else is growing. So on the second part of the question on our marriage, did we ever have pressures on the marriage? Yes, I guess and anyone who says they've never had pressures in a marriage, thats gone for 40 years, they're not telling the truth.

Ruth Donnelly  40:21  
But it hasn't been business related.

Peter Donnelly  40:22  
It hasn't been because of the business so much. It's been more disagreements and family issues, but not not so much business.

Ariel Endean  40:32  
As you said, every relationship has its challenging times, its highs and lows that even if you obviously are on the same page, as you guys are and so obviously are in sync with each other. It's lovely to see. But even even with that on your side, there's still pressures of having a life and a relationship and a marriage and children 

Marcus Nicholls  40:52  
and parents.

Peter Donnelly  40:53  
Yeah, yes, that's right. Yeah. Especially when your parents start to become aged. And there's a lot more time required outside of the business to look after them. And what to do with that, you know, whether they should go into a care facility or stay at home and staying at home means that you have to commit to, you know, spending time with them. Looking after them. A lot of decisions like that? So we had a few issues like that to sort through. And it always puts a bit of pressure on you, because sometimes you disagree.

Ariel Endean  41:24  
We found having our own business, in fact, helped in some of those situations, because you were more able to choose your time of when you worked, 

Ruth Donnelly  41:33  
Yes. 

Ariel Endean  41:33  
So you could go and spend a day with your parents putting them into a nursing home or helping them or whatever it happens to be. 

Ruth Donnelly  41:41  
That can be an advantage but we found that when people (because we've been in business for a long time), people get to know that you're avaialble. And there can be the other extreme where you are spending so much time doing things for other people that you actually neglect your own business. Getting that balance is hard.

Peter Donnelly  41:59  
They think, Oh, yeah. You've got plenty of spare time. 

Ruth Donnelly  42:01  
That's right

Ariel Endean  42:01  
 Yes They say I can't go because I have a job but you can. 

Peter Donnelly  42:07  
Yes.

Marcus Nicholls  42:08  
This is often the case with people who have never ran their own business. Anyone who runs a businesses understands that you're not made of money?

Peter Donnelly  42:17  
Well, one thing I never do now is I never sit down and work out how much we make per hour of time that we put into the business.

Marcus Nicholls  42:24  
No. It's  frightening. 

Peter Donnelly  42:25  
I don't do that. 

Marcus Nicholls  42:27  
No. You wouldn't want to.

Peter Donnelly  42:28  
No

Marcus Nicholls  42:32  
What do you feel is your secret sauce for being a business couple. What's your tips, tricks, ideas that you would recommend to another business couple starting out today, or that are currently in business and struggling?

Peter Donnelly  42:49  
Hmmmmm. That's an interesting one. I think one thing you have to do is you have to be prepared to think outside the normal box. You have to be prepared to consider all possibilities and options to change your business if it's not working. We've had to do that many a time and I guess every business is different. But we've had to do that to survive and I think that's an important thing. And get advice. Get advice from colleagues who have been successful, and who have gone through similar issues that you haven't. Just see how they've worked it out? 

Marcus Nicholls  43:30  
Yeah. Thats great advice.

Ruth Donnelly  43:32  
And I think listening to your friends and your family. Because if you've got some sort of idea that is fairly risky, then you really need to run it by a lot of people. And if the majority of them say no, or there's warning signs, ditch it and don't even start, because, you know, what is the statistic 70% of businesses go broke? So don't even start it. Stick with a job.

Marcus Nicholls  44:03  
I mean, you're probably a little bit privileged in the sense that a lot of your family are entrepreneurs or business people themselves, which is often the case. You can hear that when they're surrounded by business advice because your family's in that sort of entrepreneurial space, they are giving the advice thats more appropriate for that. If you come from a family who arn't in business or never have been they are a lot more risk averse.

Ruth Donnelly  44:31  
Yes it's interesting. The other really big thing is from my experience is that if you are going to set a goal and you want to do something, then stick with it and just work extremely hard to achieve that. If you're not going to put that commitment and the time and the dedication into achieving that goal. Just like an Olympic athlete, someone going for high level of sport, then you're wasting your own time and everyone's time. You can achieve that goal if you really put the time and effort and the hard work into it. So if you're not prepared to put the hard yards into it, if you have a tendency to be lazy, it's not going to work. The other issue is some people give up really quickly. They have  a discouragement or a setback they throw the towel in. If thats the case you shouldn't even start a business because you will have setbacks. You will have times of discouragement. If you haven't got that tenacity or stickability, it's going to fail. You've got to really put the had work in.

Peter Donnelly  45:43  
Stickability is such a great word.

And the other thing is you have to have a passion. A genuine interest in what you're doing. Because if you're just doing it to make money, or be successful, when you hit a hard road, you'll want to give up but if you've got a passion that will usually keep you going. So that's important. If you're not really interested in what you're doing don't do it.

Ruth Donnelly  45:50  
Yeah, we've walked into businesses where the people at the other end that you're dealing with are so rude or not friendly, you know, that's not going to build up their business. You have to be nice to people. Even something basic like that is so important. It amazes us sometimes we walk into a business and they don't smile. Have good PR skills be friendly. 

Ariel Endean  46:33  
And that's even if you're dealing with wholesale, which you did, because they're still people that want to be dealt with in a happy friendly way.

Marcus Nicholls  46:40  
They're still your customers.

Peter Donnelly  46:41  
Yes. You're still dealing with people all the time.

Ruth Donnelly  46:42  
Because it's an open market, they'll just go and get the product elsewhere, from someone who's nicer.

Ariel Endean  46:50  
And in terms of the business couple aspect. In terms of doing it as a couple aspect. Like all of that advice you've just given, which is fantastic secret sauce, could apply to someone individually starting business.  What would be your secret sauce to a couple thinking should we go into business together?

Peter Donnelly  47:11  
Okay, well, the very important. First thing is that if you're going to go into business as a couple, you have to both share the same passion in that business. If one of you are just going into it, because the other partner is really passionate, and you're just sort of tagging along, I think that's a warning sign to be to be careful.

That would us! I got there!

It doesn't mean it won't work. It just means that it's something to be aware of. Because the passion will keep you going in the hard times. And if you know if you're not really that interested in it and passionate about it, well you'll tend to say oh well maybe you should just give it a break.

Ariel Endean  47:57  
So both be passionate about it ideally.

Peter Donnelly  47:58  
Yes. Both be passionate about it and be like minded about the whole approach to business, you know. Being prepared to to wait and do the hard slogging. And if either parties expecting it to work very quickly, you know, you'll be dissapointed because it may not.

Ruth Donnelly  48:19  
Yes. Being patient and that's the part of not throwing in the towel so quickly. It takes time and perseverance to attain business success. 

Ariel Endean  48:30  
Wonderful secret sauce. I love it. 

Marcus Nicholls  48:31  
That's great. Okay for a bit of fun. So we've got some dice. Who would like to go first?

Ariel Endean  48:36  
We've got some random questions for you.

Peter Donnelly  48:41  
Ladies first.

Dice Throw  48:42  
14

Ariel Endean  48:47  
Okay. In a perfect world, what would you be doing in a decade's time?

Peter Donnelly  48:53  
Is that for Ruth? 

Ariel Endean  48:54  
Yeah. 

Peter Donnelly  48:55  
Good.

To take one day at a time.

Ruth Donnelly  48:58  
Have more holidays. And I think it's hard when you're farming or being a primary producer or even in business generally, to have holidays. To get time time off. And so that's something that we're looking forward to doing more. So from my perspective, on a practical level it means growing things that are more drought tolerant which allows you to get away more from the business and for Peter growing things into the ground. Then they're not needing water every day. That's a practical thing.

Marcus Nicholls  49:11  
And irrigation systems.

Ruth Donnelly  49:38  
That's it.

Ariel Endean  49:40  
Where are you in a decade's time Peter.

Peter Donnelly  49:43  
Decades time. Still here I think. Right on this property. I love this property. I love what I'm doing. So I don't really feel as if I would like to leave the property, even if the nursery business part is too much for us I'd still like to be here growing the fruits and vegetables. Our own organic farm. Our own organic food. Our own medicinal plants, which I'm just getting into now. So yeah, in 10 years time, I'd still like to be here. The business side of things, you know, in 10 years time, I think we probably should be thinking then of retirement from the business. But yeah, I'd still like to be here staying on this property. My turn to throw the 

Dice Throw  50:39  
8

Marcus Nicholls  50:42  
Do you bring business into the bedroom? Yes or no? And why?

Peter Donnelly  50:51  
It isn't a straight yes or no answer. Sometimes, sometimes. Usually, what will happen is if there's an issue that has arisen that day we'll discuss it. We'll start talking about it. But usually I think I'm the one who usually says, Okay, look, let's just not talk about that now.

Ariel Endean  51:12  
It's 2am. I need sleep.

Peter Donnelly  51:16  
So I say look, we need to, we need to turn off now and have a wind down time, and talk about it tomorrow. So yes, it can happen. But my approach is normally,let's just forget it for the time being.

Ruth Donnelly  51:30  
Yeah. And the good thing is to make notes, if you've got a lot on, just jot it down and put it on tomorrow's job list. That doesn't happen that often. But, you know, I think flexibility is important, because sometimes, there is circumstances that you do need to talk inside for quite some time. So I don't think having too rigid a approach or all of these boundaries and rules, can be too inflexible to make it livable. So that's what I think is the approach. It should be 100% flexibility and therefore you don't have these huge expectations that lead to disappointment. You know, if you need to talk about something, then, you know, do it. But not too much, and you know, if you can leave it till the morning thats best. You don't want to be thinking too much going to bed. You want to get a good night's sleep. And that's more important.

Ariel Endean  52:32  
You guys would be early risers doing what you do.

Ruth Donnelly  52:34  
Yes we are. 

Peter Donnelly  52:35  
Early to bed, early to rise.

Dice Throw  52:45  
15

Ariel Endean  52:50  
What's one thing you do to keep the romance alive?

Ruth Donnelly  53:01  
I think going out on outings and dates, and that sort of thing is important. We need to plan more for that. Because you can get caught up with just the day to day business of life that you you don't put aside a certain time to do that. And I think that's something that should be probably locked in and planned ahead. So that it just doesn't get left behind.

Ariel Endean  53:29  
Because you can forget can't you. You can just get busy with work and stay busy with work.

Ruth Donnelly  53:34  
Yeah. I think that's something that is important to lock in and plan ahead and try and keep to a routine where you can go out and actually go on a date and and have a date night or an activity or something. Like I just started the last two to three years while Peter is going out for a surf I'll go snorkeling, and then he'll come with me and go we'll go for a snorkel on the beach and that sort of thing, which is really good. I'm enjoying that. Bushwalking and that sort of thing is good. But we're so hooked on horticulture. 

It helps that you love what you do. Growing plants.

We will just you know go on bushwalks and we'll be just looking you know, saying I haven't seen that for years or look at that, you know, so it's sort of still in the background with everything that we do. 

Ariel Endean  54:27  
I'm thinking bushwalks with these guys would be real slow affair. You know how some people go bushwalking and they power along.

Peter Donnelly  54:33  
No, we'd bore you silly we'd say look, there's another melaleuca.

Ariel Endean  54:37  
I imagine every three steps you'd be stopping to look at plants.

Marcus Nicholls  54:43  
And for you Peter? How do you keep the romance alive..

Peter Donnelly  54:45  
Something that I decided I should do every day and I don't do enough. I don't know where I got it from but I thought I should give Ruth a good, passionate kiss at least once a day. While we're working And a nice hug. 

Aaawwwwww I love that.

So I'll say have you had a hug today? And she will usually say no. So yes thats something I try to do.

Ariel Endean  55:11  
What a nice circuit breaker to have a hug out of nowhere. 

Ruth Donnelly  55:19  
Yeah. 

Marcus Nicholls  55:20  
Peter - one more role.

Dice Throw  55:30  
12

Marcus Nicholls  55:33  
Over the years, have you had any ah ha moments in your relationship or the business?

Peter Donnelly  55:44  
Yes. Yes, we have. I think we sort of answered that one maybe before. But we have had particular moments that have been very hard. I think that going backwards this year was a very hard moment when we had worked so hard leading up to the big show in Melbourne. And then COVID said, we can't do it anymore. I felt like at that stage, we should just throw the towel in for festivals and events. And I really wanted to have nothing more to do with it. But Ruth wanted to keep going with it. So that was a really hard moment. We had to make a decision which way we're going to go then when COVID hit and what direction we would go. So that was a hard moment. And I guess that was a bit hard on our relationship as well, because we did have a disagreement with it.

Ruth Donnelly  56:39  
Yeah. We were sharing a side with another nursery and they wanted to continue and we weren't sure whether we should book ahead for the following year.

Peter Donnelly  56:48  
For the next year. 

Ruth Donnelly  56:48  
And as it's happened this last week, we've had to request a refund for our site fee. And we'll pay half of that fee to the nursery that we were sharing it with. Because it's obvious that it's not going to work. It's just too difficult when you're in one state, New South Wales trying to organize something in Victoria. It's just not going to work. So did you meant an aha moment or did you say hard

Marcus Nicholls  57:13  
Ah ha moment.

Ariel Endean  57:15  
But look that's interesting anyway.

Marcus Nicholls  57:17  
Ah ha moments are hard moments sometimes. 

Ariel Endean  57:22  
That's true. Actually. Often, after hard moments, there are aha moments where you have a breakthrough in your direction or your thinking on something. So yeah, they're often linked together. In any case.

Peter Donnelly  57:34  
So the question was whats an ah ha moment? 

Marcus Nicholls  57:39  
Yes.

Peter Donnelly  57:39  
Sorry! While Ruth is talking I'll think of an ah ha moment.

Ariel Endean  57:44  
I'm thinking one we've canvassed is heading into succulents from drought. I mean, that's a real shift. I don't know if it came to you while you're eating porridge one morning, but it's sort of like an aha moment or shift is where you've really sort of had some Penny drop in some way that's different to how you usualy think. 

Ruth Donnelly  58:03  
I can think of two quite important observations that we've always thought. We watched another couple who were in business for a long time in our industry, and they worked so physically hard for so long that they ruined their health. So there's a warning for people in our industry, and it's the same for plumbing, you know, for a lot of landscaping. Anything that's using a lot of physical hard work. There shouldn't be the expectation from government with superannuation or any, you know, retirement age. It's wrong and too difficult to put that demand or expectation on people who do a lot of hard physical work. And we said, we would never do that. So do stay in business, but do light work, and change your direction slightly or get other people to do it. Contract that out if you don't want to put any more staff members on, just get someone in to do that. And the other aha moments have been where we've observed another business who are having problems or issues, we would learn from that. So we would think, right, we've got to remember that or that's interesting. And we would talk about that, and we would both see it. Working together it's good having someone who can also see things you do and you both come to the same realization.

Peter Donnelly  59:36  
Well, a big ah ha moment for me was when I spent four days with stomach cramps, being unable to eat from spraying chemicals. And my ah ha moment then was okay, that's it. I've got to go organic. It was about 30 years ago. I was very, very sick. We were growing cut flower roses at the time. While the nursery income was building up we used to do cash crops to suppliment our income which involved a lot of spraying. That was at Matcham and I got very very sick and I said to Ruth "that's it I have to get away". Because that was the standard way you had to do things you had to use the poisonous sprays.

Ruth Donnelly  1:00:21  
It was carbaryl which I think they've banned now but Peter was completely covered. He had full masks, a respirator, full plastic all the way down.

Everything that you can possibly do for protection

Peter Donnelly  1:00:33  
It still got through. So that ah ha for me was okay that's it. I'm getting away from chemicals.

Ariel Endean  1:00:38  
Thats life changing

Peter Donnelly  1:00:39  
It was life changing and we have to go organic if I'm going to continue on. It was either do that or walk away from the business because your health has to come first.

Ariel Endean  1:00:47  
And this would have been well ahead of the trend of health food shops or organic food. It's a lot easier these days.

Ruth Donnelly  1:00:54  
Oh yes. Well ahead of the trend.

Peter Donnelly  1:00:54  
It was very difficult then to even find any alternatives to the chemicals that we were using to to control pests and disease. Very difficult.

Ariel Endean  1:01:03  
You guys have been such pioneers on so many front's. You are really to be admired.

Ruth Donnelly  1:01:08  
Yeah. So we were trialing things with a company called organic crop protectants. Now their products are in Bunnings as they are main stream now. But in the early days, when they were starting off, they had to have people that they could trial their products on. so we were using the products and giving them feedback and doing a lot of that back then.

Peter Donnelly  1:01:30  
There are whole nurseries now that are virtually organic.

Marcus Nicholls  1:01:32  
Yeah. That's great.

Ariel Endean  1:01:34  
That's such a fabulous story. We've thoroughly enjoyed hearing more about both your stories. Your collective story as a business couple really and the journey of Coachwood Nurseries from a tiny little business to this.

Ruth Donnelly  1:01:47  
Yeah, a teenage business.

Marcus Nicholls  1:01:51  
In every aspect.

Ariel Endean  1:01:53  
It's a long and winding road to get to here. It's just a fabulous achievment.

Marcus Nicholls  1:01:57  
So thank you, Peter and Ruth for chatting with us today. It's been a real pleasure and hearing a lot more about your story and just the ideas and tips and tricks that you have shared has been wonderful. So if you're looking for succulents or rare plants, get in touch with Peter and Ruth. And also dry plants. Check out their social media. Come to their open days or boo k in for one of their courses. They offer courses in a number of different things these days. And all their dates are available on the website & Facebook page and social media.

Peter Donnelly  1:02:34  
It's been our pleasure. Thank you very much for having us.

Ruth Donnelly  1:02:38  
And all the best for the podcast in the future.

Ariel Endean  1:02:33  
Awwww. Thats lovley. Thank you so much.

Transcribed by https://otter.ai