JOHNSONS of Whixley is one of the largest commercial nursery businesses in Europe, and a trusted supplier of plants and trees to the amenity sector in the UK.

A family-run plant nursery business based in Whixley, North Yorkshire, it was first established in 1921 by E.R Johnson. The company was taken over by John Richardson in 1964 and became known as Johnsons of Whixley Ltd in 1993.

The business’s sales team is headed by senior amenity sales manager Tony Coles, who joined Johnsons more than 20 years ago after leaving the Royal Navy, where he was proud to serve his country.

Mr Coles is responsible for a dedicated sales team of four personnel, whose job it is to ensure that all sales are met, as well as interact with customers and ensure orders arrive on time and to specification.

He has managed the supply of many large-scale projects during his time at Johnsons including the regeneration of parks, supermarkets and business parks

Johnsons has experience in growing plants for specific, high-profile schemes including the Forth Road Bridge, Royal Parks, HS1 and the Athletes Village at the Glasgow Commonwealth Games. The company offers a Wholesale Xpress cash and carry service to a range of regional and national businesses, from gardeners and landscapers, to hotel chains, facilities management companies, garden designers, property developers, show homes and estates and is the only one of its kind in the north of England.

As a nationwide supplier to DIY chains and independent garden centres, Johnsons’ plants can be found in the gardens of private homes nationally.

What job would you like to have other than your own and why?

“It sounds daft but I would have liked to have been an Astronaut. I have always had an interested in space and the sense of seeing the earth from space is appealing.

“But, in reality, that was never going to happen, so I was very proud to instead serve in HM Forces before joining Johnsons of Whixley. I served in the Royal Navy for 14 years, and enjoyed every moment of that. Being part of a team that was defending your country was a great feeling, plus I got to travel and visit many places around the world.”

Greatest achievement?

“This is not an easy question to answer, but I have been lucky enough to have never been out of work. Since leaving school I have only ever had three jobs, and I have spent 22 and a half years at Johnsons of Whixley, doing a variety of roles during that time. I’m very proud of what I have achieved during my professional career.”

What makes you most angry?

“I think that would have to be those people you sometimes find who walk down the street looking at their mobile phones and not looking where they are going. I have to say that is something that really annoys me, and I’m sure other share my frustrations, especially when you’re in a rush!”

Biggest mistake?

“I’d say one of my biggest regrets was probably not working hard enough at school. I should have done better than I did, and then who knows where I might have ended up. But then I also think that the biggest mistake someone can make is not learning from their mistakes!”

What do you need to make life complete?

“Health is a very important factor for happiness, alongside feeling the comfort of knowing that I would not have to rely on anybody in my old age. You certainly appreciate the importance of overall health and wellbeing as you get older.”

Why do you make a difference?

“Not an easy one this, because I think we all make a difference to the world in our own small ways. I think the most important thing is to just do your best at what you do, whether it being in your workplace, at home or anywhere else. I believe that if you do that then you can certainly make a difference.”