Social Media at Arboriculture Australia conference - 24th Apr 2012

Social Media at Arboriculture Australia conference

Social Media - a powerful business tool

This years Arboriculture Australia Annual conference (Hobart 30th April – May 2) will offer more than the usual networking opportunities. The Social Media platforms of Twitter and Linkedin will be setup to allow users to find people, see who is commenting and debating conference issues and even follow more that one session at a time.

Enhancing the conference experience using social media is not exactly new but this is believed to be a first for an Arboricultural conference.

There will be a conference ‘group’ called 2012 Arboriculture Australia Conference set up on LinkedIn and Twitter will be using the hash-tag #2012arb

Not only will you be able to follow the content of the conference there will also be a Flickr-photo account set up so you can see what is going on as well.

Often social media is full of warnings about what you can and cannot say and do, but used correctly it has the potential to be a powerful business tool.

Lunch with the Prime Minster - 30th Mar 2012

Richard Wanhill, thoughtplanters Business Development Manager has been invited to have lunch with the Prime Minster of New Zealand, the Right Honorable, Mr John Key.

Mr Key will be leading a delegation of high-profile business leaders to Indonesia and Singapore to discuss relationships and opportunities where New Zealand can offer its strengths and expertise, “like the food and beverage sector, education, aviation and geothermal energy.”

Richard will be meeting Mr Key in Singapore.

“New Zealand’s relationship with Singapore is a deep and enduring one, and this visit underscores those close ties,” says Mr Key. “This visit provides an ideal opportunity to reaffirm New Zealand’s close and valued friendship with Singapore as we continue our cooperation in a number of key areas, particularly trade.

“I will also be expressing my gratitude to leaders of both countries, on behalf of New Zealand, for the support and assistance following last February’s Canterbury earthquake.”

The largest education event in the Asia Pacific Region - 1st Mar 2012

The Arboriculture Australia’s 2012 annual conference promises to be the largest education event dedicated to both the Urban Forest and Utilities in the Asia Pacific Region.

This year’s event will be held in Hobart, starting with the Australia Tree Climbing Championship preliminary events on Friday 27th April and the masters on the 28th April.

On Sunday 29th April, Arboriculture Australia will be presenting the 2 hour workshops (which are always booked out, so book early to secure a place).

Monday 30th April will see the first full day session of the conference, both the Urban Foresters and Utility Arborists.

Our own Trevor Gardiner will be there presenting on training programmes for Utility Arborists and Vegetation Control Workers. Trevor’s will be discussing how to effectively use workplace training to improve productivity and safety. The talk will be based around New Zealand Electricity Supply Industry training packages and qualifications.

For more information about the 2012 Arboriculture Australia annual conference click here.

New Zealand tree doctors take root in Southeast Asia - 10th Feb 2012

New Zealand tree doctors take root in Southeast Asia
From New January 16, 2012

Few nations can boast of effective use of green space and national parks in its city centre, but Singapore is one of them. And when it comes to maximising limited space into world class outdoor parks, Singapore's Centre for Urban Greenery (CUGE) are the experts.

CUGE, jointly established by the National Parks Board and the Singapore Workforce Development Agency, are now using New Zealand company, Thoughtplanters to develop staff skills and qualifications in areas such as the cultivation and management of trees, otherwise known as arboriculture.

"Thoughtplanters' trainers are specialists in their particular subject field, and we had a shortage of such specialists for training in Singapore," says P Teva Raj, director of CUGE.

The company has been instrumental in building educational frameworks for staff across the park and helping educate industry professionals, such as during a productivity study visit to New Zealand last year by industry stakeholders.

They are professional and have a great track record," he says.

"They were willing to come in and help us get our programmes going and were committed to our concept of transferring knowledge and expertise to Singaporeans. They helped to build up a pool of local trainers."

The company's modus operandi of providing highly skilled in-house training is relatively new in Southeast Asia, despite its prevalence in other parts of the world through polytechnic courses and apprenticeships. This is due to the relatively low cost of hiring unskilled, transient workers in Asia.

However Thoughtplanters director, Richard Wanhill, said this culture is changing in conjunction with the realisation that quality can also be a cost-saver due to higher productivity.

"Our challenge is to show the decision-makers that there is another way," he says.

Through horticultural and arboriculture skills training and refresher courses, as well as management and leadership training by experienced staff, the company gives long-term benefits to local workers and their employers.

"There are plenty of people with a high level of theoretical knowledge but less with hands-on experience. We train people using people who work in the industry," says Mr Wanhill.

The Thoughtplanters directors have done the hard yards in the field - between the five of them, they have around 100 years experience. While experience and training makes all the difference in quality for the trees, it is also a cost effective.

"With pruning, a tree might be visited twice a year. If was done properly by trained staff, it might only need to be done once every two years. It's spending money to save money," says Mr Wanhill.

One of the challenges is convincing local companies that have access to cheap labour that it is worth the investment, says Mr Wanhill.

"A trained worker can be seven times more productive and the end result is better quality; and an educated staff member is also more likely to stay. That worker is then going to take more care and understand the needs of the tree better.

"As workers' safety becomes increasingly important, there is also the need for proper training of staff. Asia has a much higher rate of incidents than in New Zealand because many staff are not as widely trained on how to work safely in trees."

The company plans to continue to grow through Asia, building networks and delivering a quality service.

"The big push is with hotels. They realise the importance of a long term need to have quality grounds, with healthy trees, and trained staff to care for them."

Working through Singapore parks has also been an important step for the company.

"Singapore has a massive amount of influence in the region. Developing nations look to success stories in the region and Singapore is one of them."

Changes to our site - 30th Jan 2012

There has been some subtle but important changes to the thoughtplanters and Horttaining websites.

Firstly, thoughtplanters have completed the union with Horttraining NZ Ltd. Staff and systems have been integrated and the phasing out of Horttraining the training entity has begun. The most noticeable thing will be ‘web’ traffic going to the Horttraining site. The site is a holding page with a re-direction notice and link through to this site.

Changes to this site include the creation of a ‘staff portal’ where teaching and training staff will be able to access training guides, teaching information and assessment material.

We have also added a sub-page to the ‘training info’ called Plant ID (Unit 17150).  This page is primarily for students and trainees working towards NZQA Unit Standard 17150: Identify trees used in arboriculture.  It contains information about the creation and requirements the plant collection section (Element 2) of this unit standard. There are also ten sample plant ID tests of ten plants each. This is to assist in Element 3 of this unit standard with students or trainees needing to correctly identify 100 plants.

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Thoughtplanters becomes a Brand Partner - 20th Jan 2012

Thoughtplanters becomes a Brand Partner with New Zealand Trade and Enterprise

New Zealand Trade and Enterprise (NZTE) is the New Zealand Government’s national economic development agency.

NZTE supports businesses to grow internationally with a range of services, programmes and information and with online guides and information. In order to generate the greatest benefits for New Zealand, NZTE works most intensively with businesses that are most likely to succeed.

Thoughtplanters applied for and went under the rigorous assessment process to gain access to NZTE Beachheads programme.

Beachheads is a global, public-private partnership of independent Advisors and NZTE personnel that helps businesses accelerate international growth. Beachheads gives businesses access to the advice of private sector Advisors to help develop and execute their international growth strategy.

As part of our acceptance onto the NZTE Beachheads programme, thoughtplanters has become a NZTE Brand Partner and is now able to include the ‘Fern Mark’ on our marketing material. Being able to use the New Zealand Fern Mark shows that you have reached a standard of excellence, produce quality products and maintain high standards. Only selected New Zealand companies that do business internationally are eligible to become Brand Partners and use the New Zealand Fern Mark.

It’s a privilege to be supported by NZTE and to be able to use the New Zealand Fern Mark, its humbling and exciting all at the same time” thoughtplanters Business Development Manager, Richard Wanhill said.

Moving up in the world - 1st Dec 2011

Moving up in the world The thoughtplanters Dunedin office is moving up town and up a few floors.

The new office is located on the 3rd floor of 2 Dowling St. It is easy to find, situated across the road from Queen’s Gardens. 2 Dowling St originally housed the Otago Daily Times from 1879 to 1928, the building has a plenty of history and character.

At this stage all the contact details will remain the same, its just the location that has changed (see - google maps).

Rescue training in the park - 8th Sep 2011

Thoughtplanters put on three days of Aerial Rescue and Advanced Climbing for the climbers of Dunedin.

The first day was a day of Aerial Rescue filming in conjunction with the Otago Polytechnic’s Arboriculture and film studies departments. Several hours of footage was shot from various angles and soon will be edited into a series short training videos.

The day went very well and was enjoyed by all except Mark Roberts, who was playing the part of the victim; ‘it’s very uncomfortable hanging around awaiting to be rescued, I strongly recommend that no one does it… in a film or in a real life situation’.

The second two days were mainly industry training as requested by the NZ horticulture Industry Training Organisation. With the new NZQA Unit Standards in Advanced Climbing and Advanced Rigging many work place assessors have found themselves half a step behind the training requirements and this course was designed to help bring them up to speed.

Andy Neverman, in keeping with the training culture of thoughtplanters demonstrated various techniques and additional uses of common items of equipment. ‘If you have something, it is better to use it to its full potential than to go out and buy something else to do the same job’.

Single Rope Techniques (SRT) were also discussed in detail including rescue scenarios off single and double rope configurations. The general consensus is that with so many variations and configurations SRT is not something that inexperienced climbers should rush into, and even experienced climbers need to know exactly what they are doing before the start accessing trees using SRT.

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