This summer we celebrate 10 years at Melons Place.
Having only witnessed a small fraction of the company’s journey, I was eager to find out more about the road which led us here. Earlier this month I sat down with company director, Adrian Byne, who spoke of Benholm’s earliest days and the challenges they overcame before establishing themselves as one of the UK’s leading commercial plant and floral designers at Melons Place.
The Benholm story began back in 1993 but it would take almost two decades to find what they now call home at Melons Place.
The company started with just Adrian and his father, Robert, at their original premises at Dunipace Mill in Denny – just 14 miles from where we are today. They would be gradually joined by Adrian’s siblings over the years continuing a rich lineage of horticultural entrepreneurship started by their Great Grandfather in the late 1800s.
“When we started at Dunipace Mill it was just my father and I, and my three brothers and two sisters joined us over the next few years. Our first non-family employee joined us in 2005 and he is still with us today. “
With no budget for traditional advertising, and the internet still in its infancy, Adrian remembers how they initially relied on more traditional marketing techniques, doorstepping local businesses spreading the word of what is now widely known as ‘Biophilic Design’ – before eventually securing their first deal from a company in Livingston.
“Originally Benholm was more of a local service. We concentrated on Edinburgh mainly to start with, growing our customer base throughout Scotland, and then further afield across the whole of the UK.”
As Benholm’s client base grew throughout Scotland, they moved from Dunipace Mill to Inchyra Road in Grangemouth to meet growing demand. The site here, although much bigger and closer to home, was comprised of a series of portacabins and sheds.
Throughout the company’s time here, Benholm gradually began to work less directly with businesses and more through interior designers instead. As lasting relationships with interior designers were formed and the reputation of the company continued to grow, Benholm were increasingly recommended for larger projects all over the UK.
“At Inchyra Road we not only grew out of the premises, but we wore out of them as well. The portacabins were literally starting to fall to pieces and they were getting very old. You had bits of rotten floor and it wasn’t a very nice environment at all.”
As pioneers of the growing Biophilic Design trend, the family felt they needed a space for themselves which reflected the professionalism of the work they were doing – especially now they were regularly welcoming designers to their premises who were used to working with top end customers.
“It took us quite a long time to find somewhere. We initially looked to move to an industrial unit, but the council felt we didn’t really fit an industrial estate and preferred us to have more of a rural location.
We knew we wanted to stay in Central Scotland and tried quite a few different sites. We literally went round the area looking for any opportunities, and eventually found a farmer that had a section of land he was interested in selling off.
Melons Place felt ideal as it’s a central location, it’s got reasonably good motorway links and is more or less halfway between Junction 4 on both the M9 and M8.”
It would take almost four years of planning, negotiations and overcoming red tape before Benholm were able to move from Inchyra Road to Melons Place.
“Because this was purpose built, as part of the planning we had to reuse stone from the old building that was here. We couldn’t use the existing building because it was condemned from a structural point of view, but they wanted us to use the stone to kind of reflect what was previously here in the new design, and the arch window is actually a piece out of the old stone barn.”
Whilst the exterior embraces the traditional, local architectural style, on the inside we utilised a range of modern eco-friendly initiatives – from biomass boiler heating to rainwater harvesting and the office décor reflects the high-end clients we deal with.
“We’ve always believed in the restorative powers of nature. The greenhouse and the offices are all heated by biomass boilers which use natural/non-fossil fuel resources to create heat. We also have rainwater harvesting capacity here.
The green house is a very non-standard greenhouse in that it’s an insulated greenhouse, so it has triple wall polycarbonate panels all round for insulation, computer-controlled ventilation and underfloor heating which is again an economical way of doing it.
So yeah its quite sophisticated and its not your average greenhouse, it’s specialist for our type of industry and was possibly a little bit ahead of its time.”
The leap of faith taken in moving to Melons Place was to be rewarded as were able to secure contracts for much larger projects – something Adrian feels may not have happened had they continued at Inchyra Place.
“I don’t think we turned we ever had to turn any orders away at our previous premises. It is amazing what we did achieve from those premises – including our biggest customer ever! We managed to provide literally hundreds of plants for the three main Scottish Airports and that contract lasted for many years. We had the opportunity not long after we moved here to do the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games and I reckon it was the fact that we looked like a big company in these premises that helped us get that order.”
Over the last decade, Benholm have continued to work on a number of high-profile assignments, such as COP26, and have become a valuable asset to the local community providing employment for a growing team of almost 30.
At Melons Place, Benholm finally found a place they are proud to call home.
“Melons Place has been integral to our story. I very much see this as a long-term solution, and we should be able to continue to grow the business considerably from here without any issue for years to come.”
We work with some of Scotland and the UK’s most prominent interior designers, helping to bring their creative vision to life with the perfect plants and flowers for any space. We encourage interior designers to visit our showroom, meet the team, and get a closer look at the products and services we offer. Download our free brochure for interiors designers and get in touch today.