Goom Landscapes has been a fixture of the Canterbury scene in one way or another since 1981. It’s gone from strength to strength in the decades since and looks set to be a leading light of Christchurch landscaping for years to come
As far as dominant empires go, Canterbury has it all. They’ve got the glorious NPC cup team that won the title nine times between 2008 and 2017. Then there’s the Crusaders’ side that won the Super Rugby in 2017, 2018, 2019 and 2022. The two-year gap? That’s accounted for by the Super Rugby Aotearoa wins in 2020 and 2021.
And then there’s Goom Landscapes, which has laid its own roots as one of Christchurch’s premier firms – especially after a phenomenal performance at Landscapes of Distinction 2019 that netted the company seven gold awards, one silver award, the Best Construction Project of the Year and a Young Landscaper of the Year winner.
But it wasn’t always like that and, just like many successful New Zealand businesses, Goom Landscapes has humble beginnings.
A chip off the old block
One of its two directors is Tim Goom, who was just one year old when his dad Chris started Canterbury Landscapes (which would eventually become Goom Landscapes) in 1981. By the mid-1980s, his business had grown to employ around 30 people and, in 2004, Tim started working for his old man.
In 2008, Tim bought the business from his dad and renamed it Goom Landscapes.
Six years later, the family affair was reignited when his brother-in-law Anthony Washington bought in to give it the structure it has today.
It now counts over 60 employees on its payroll across three companies.While Anthony has roots in the industry, he’s well aware of his strengths and limitations.
“My family has a horticulture background but, really, I’m just a pen pusher,” he jokes. “You need to play to your strengths and mine is sitting behind a desk!”
Both he and Tim believe playing to one’s strengths is the best recipe for success. Anthony is the managing director of the business with a firm grasp on everything behind the scenes, while Tim works across design and has a passion for coming up with “creative yet practical” ways to solve client’s problems.
Both prefer to focus on the residential market.
“We also own a nursery and a pool business, which integrate well with each other. Our target market is high-end residential work.”
Goom Landscapes offers a full service, handling a project from concept to completion in-house. In fact, Anthony says they’ll rarely take on work if they haven’t designed it and it’s clear he’s incredibly proud of the staff’s design abilities.
“We love turning dream designs into reality. Our team has been involved in some exceptional projects that bring a lot of joy and happiness to our clients, which is what we all love about the job.”
Residential work is the company’s bread and butter, although Goom will pick up the odd commercial job if the project is right.
“We did the full design, management and construction of Lyttelton Fire Station, constructed the landscape at TAIT Technology Centre, and completed a rebuild for Christchurch Boys’ High.”
Recruit right, get results
Anthony says that a group of “loyal, highly skilled workers” is the key to delivering high-end projects on time. To get around the thorny issue of staff shortages, the business likes to nurture young landscapers as tenderly as any flower in its nursery.“We try to train internally and bring young ones up through the business, which includes taking on apprentices and investing in their success.”
Two of Goom’s next generation were competitors in the recently concluded Young Landscaper of the Year competition and Anthony says it was a beneficial experience.
“We’re proud of our Young Landscaper of the Year competitors, although, full disclosure, one of them is my son! Both are young foremen in the business, working at the top level, and it’s good for them to measure themselves against others in the industry. They got a buzz from competing and want to do it again next year.”
The event also helps them identify areas to improve, adds Anthony.
“It gives the young people a lift, but it also shows them where they may need to upskill.”
In it to win it
The Young Landscaper of the Year is one of the Registered Master Landscapers’ (RML) flagship events, alongside the Landscapes of Distinction (LOD) awards.
When it comes to the premier awards in landscaping, Goom are in it to win it.
“It’s a measure of what others are doing and allows us to judge where we are in the industry. We do use it as a bit of a yardstick to measure where we’re at compared to the other firms in the area and our goal is to get gold. We’ve worked pretty hard at pushing ourselves and we’re proud of that!”
The company has been an RML member “for longer than 20 years.” Anthony was chair for five years and says the connection and networking opportunities he gets with local legends keeps him coming back.
“Picking the brains of guys like Ollie Newman from Onlandscapes and Adam Pollard from Morgan + Pollard is always good, plus we enjoy catching up with everyone and discussing the shape of the industry.
“We’re also supportive of the work RML is doing, because we want landscaping to be seen as a professional industry to work in and people to acknowledge what we do. I sometimes get frustrated when I hear people calling us gardeners or builders – we’re a lot more than that and need to have an incredible range of skills.”
Confidence in Canterbury
With the economic climate looking a little shakey, Anthony is confident that Goom Landscapes has what it takes to weather rougher conditions.
“Next year, I still think that travel won’t be as free and easy as it used to be before Covid. There might be an economic downturn, but Canterbury is doing well and the region is at close to full employment, so we’re still confident going into 2023.”