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​Warners scores a century with gala celebrations!

Posted on Wednesday 10th December, 2014

Twelve months of centenary celebrations came to a fitting end at Warners Nurseries this month, with a special gala dinner for family and friends of the family-owned business at their Narre Warren North nursery.

Two hundred guests gathered on Saturday 6th December to celebrate the milestone anniversary of WR Warner’s arrival in Australia in 1914, and his subsequent establishment of the nursery. Guests enjoyed Warners-style hospitality in the dispatch shed, which had been converted into a spectacular dining hall for the evening.

In his role as MC, Warners Managing Director Michael Warner offered a warm welcome to guests, which included the extensive Warner clan, past and present employees, long-time partners, and valued customers.

A highlight of the evening was the keynote address by historian Stella Barber, who has been commissioned by the Warner family to research and write a book documenting the first hundred years. A tenacious sleuth, Stella has spent the last 12 months gathering documents, newspaper articles, photographs, memorabilia and personal accounts of living family members to create a comprehensive history of the family business. When prompted to reveal the secret to the success of Warners Nurseries, Stella used acrostic form.

“Warners success is due to a combination of factors,” explained Stella.

“S for staff, which included the Warner family and the many others who had loyally served the business; U for Unique, the unique selling position that Warner's had always taken in its focus on quality and not price; C for Customers, without whom there would be no business with C also standing for the clarity of vision that had steered the business throughout its history and even more so for Collaboration, for the entire success of Warner's is due to a collaborative and enduring effort; E for the striving for excellence on which the nursery had always focussed; S also for sites, for the choice of the right sites was vital to success and finally S for Serendipity for somehow it all managed to happen at the right time.

“The right people were available to steer the business at the right time, the right sites were selected as opportunities for growth were presented to WR, his sons, and later other members of the family. The planets aligned and Success rightly followed,” she concluded.

The book, to be titled ‘More than meets the eye’ will be launched in 2015 at the Melbourne International Flower & Garden Show.

Former employee Alan Edwards, and Ross Warner gave personal accounts of their time at the nursery, while John Warner revealed the Top Ten Plants of the Century.

“These are the ten plants which we believe have helped create and maintain our reputation both as a business and as nursery people,” explained John.

“They’ve stood the test of time and inspire us to keep looking for the next plant that will vie for a place in our top ten.”

Waterhousea floribunda ‘Warners Selection’ took out top position as the number one plant of the century.

“We’ve grown this one for a long time , and while there are many different forms on the market, we believe the variety we have always grown is still the best looking – which is why a few years ago we named our form – ‘Warners Selection’.”

The evening ended on a lighthearted note with a 'Team of the Century' presentation by Andrew Smith and Darren Warner, recognising the contribution of past and present staff to the success of the business. 

Heartfelt thanks go to the organising team, led by Kelly Warner and Barbara Harding who delivered an event in keeping with the Warners standard of excellence. Gratitude is also extended to the many people who have contributed to Warners over the first 100 years, and may the next 100 be just as memorable!

Top 10 Plants of the Century