Smarter Staff
Smarter Writer

This article has been written by the Smarter Business™ Staff Writers

Smarter Staff
Smarter Writer

This article has been written by the Smarter Business™ Staff Writers

When everyone can see how your latest project is going, the pressure is on! Meet the people behind the plants that adorn Broadway, Chippendale in Sydney.

For Junglefy’s Hanna Gammon, managing her time carefully is how she has turned her dreams of business, family and a new life in Australia into a successful reality. “Our interview will have to end at 10am, as it’s breast-feeding time then,” she says firmly, with a gentle smile.

Most people would be thrilled to just have a thriving business, but with her husband Jock, Finnish-born Hanna has also managed to build their green roof and wall company, Junglefy, into a success while at the same time having three children, aged six, three and four months (he is her 10am).

All of these achievements were part of the bigger dreams that followed meeting Jock in 2001, falling in love with both him and Australia, and deciding that in order to be truly happy here she had to start-up a business where she could really enjoy doing what she does best − running the business.

“I’m trained in molecular biology but I really love running a business. Jock, he’s the horticulturally trained one. And so we have combined the two,” says Hanna.

couple standing in front of green wall

Green thinking

The success of their company is very public, on show every day. Sydney commuters who travel up and down the wide sweep of Broadway can’t miss the 33 storeys of One Central Park, the new office/retail/residential tower with lush green plantings cascading down its sides from every floor.

If there is ever going to be a flagship for the green roof and wall gardens industry, One Central Park is it. And it’s Junglefy’s baby to make it all work. The pressure is on. It’s a multi-million dollar commission - a dream job for Jock, as it offered him the chance to work with French green wall pioneer Patrick Blanc, the guru in his field (think Frank Gehry for architecture).

What’s it like to work with the guru? “Patrick’s botanical skill is amazing. The way he views plants is just exceptional. Jock worked quite intimately with Patrick and it was great. Our local plant expertise helped us with plant selection too,” says Hanna. There are more than 35,000 plants at One Central Park, comprising more than 300 species, but the real complexity isn’t visible – it’s contained in the irrigation and monitoring systems that keep the plants alive.

“Winning that tender in 2010 was big for us because it was a multi-million dollar contract. It was a big thing for a small company to take on, but we saw the opportunity,” says Hanna.

Tips for big dreams:

Love it

“Starting a successful business is a lot of hard work. You have to put a lot of hours into it. So make sure what you’re doing is something you really enjoy because you’re spending a lot of time doing it. For me, it’s running a business. And for Jock, it is the plants. Building an industry around plants is just superb for him,” says Hanna.

Ask for help

“Do the research in the beginning and ask for help. If you start off doing things ‘on the fly’, later on you’ll have to come back and fix them because you haven’t done them properly the first time. For example, get an accountant and make sure your books are right, from the start,” says Hanna.

Define clear roles for your team

“You need to think through your business, asking: ‘What do I need that person to do?’. You need to document it and say, ‘This is what I need you to do’. Too many small businesses have everyone running around being very ineffective doing a bit of this and that. The sooner you can get each team-member’s role in order, the sooner you have structure, the sooner you eliminate the noise in your head and you can just focus."

 

Grassroots beginnings

Their first business together was a landscaping company. “Jock, being the techie is always on the lookout for new things, so he researched overseas trends. Jock got really excited about it and that’s how we started.”

In 2009 Junglefy was established, as a green roof and wall company, and the team has grown to 12 people since then. Most of their commissions come from the commercial world and architects, and since the success of One Central Park, they’re busier than ever, with new projects underway around the country.

That’s one of the benefits of having a very public project on view, if it all goes well: it’s like a 33-storey advertisement, but marketing is something they’re doing more actively now. “We don’t want to just sell a product. We want to tell our story of working together with people to change our urban environment.”

The other big marketing challenge is educating clients, builders and architects about what they do, and especially how green roofs and wall gardens work. “It’s all about education,” says Hanna. “People are cautious, so much of our work is about showing them it can work, and giving them the confidence to go ahead. At the building sites, gardens are a new thing for many builders. We have to teach them and make that process work, as we are putting plants into concrete environments.”

Life mission

Don’t be misled into thinking that Junglefy’s green roofs and wall gardens are just a high-tech way of adding decorative greenery to office towers or the soaring walls of hotel atriums. Hanna and Jock see them as a way of creating future urban industries and for improving our quality of life.

“The potential of these gardens is a personal passion for us. I’m a mad cook and I like using healthy, organic produce − and Jock likes to grow it,” reveals Hanna. 

Their dream is setting up city farms on rooftops and walls that can grow healthy, produce that can be sold in shops and restaurants. Junglefy wants to build farms, so others can become the farmers. “We’d like to make the gardens productive and develop industries out of them,” adds Hanna.

“As well as creating walls and rooftops that produce food, we’re also working on something that’s quite thrilling: the garden walls being able to purify the indoor air. That’s something we think has global reach and opportunity. That’s very exciting.

Life mission

Don’t be misled into thinking that Junglefy’s green roofs and wall gardens are just a high-tech way of adding decorative greenery to office towers or the soaring walls of hotel atriums. Hanna and Jock see them as a way of creating future urban industries and for improving our quality of life.

“The potential of these gardens is a personal passion for us. I’m a mad cook and I like using healthy, organic produce − and Jock likes to grow it,” reveals Hanna. 

Their dream is setting up city farms on rooftops and walls that can grow healthy, produce that can be sold in shops and restaurants. Junglefy wants to build farms, so others can become the farmers. “We’d like to make the gardens productive and develop industries out of them,” adds Hanna.

“As well as creating walls and rooftops that produce food, we’re also working on something that’s quite thrilling: the garden walls being able to purify the indoor air. That’s something we think has global reach and opportunity. That’s very exciting.

Life mission

Don’t be misled into thinking that Junglefy’s green roofs and wall gardens are just a high-tech way of adding decorative greenery to office towers or the soaring walls of hotel atriums. Hanna and Jock see them as a way of creating future urban industries and for improving our quality of life.

“The potential of these gardens is a personal passion for us. I’m a mad cook and I like using healthy, organic produce − and Jock likes to grow it,” reveals Hanna. 

Their dream is setting up city farms on rooftops and walls that can grow healthy, produce that can be sold in shops and restaurants. Junglefy wants to build farms, so others can become the farmers. “We’d like to make the gardens productive and develop industries out of them,” adds Hanna.

“As well as creating walls and rooftops that produce food, we’re also working on something that’s quite thrilling: the garden walls being able to purify the indoor air. That’s something we think has global reach and opportunity. That’s very exciting.

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