NURSERY SHOWCASING BOTH ALL-GREEN THUMBS WITH ISUZU
These days, many nurseries seem to focus more on expensive cafes and impractical pond art than customer service and staff expertise. But All Green is far from your garden-variety nursery.
Romeo Fragapane is the Owner and Director of All Green Nursery and Garden Supplies, one of the largest and most versatile independent nurseries in Australia.
While All Green has become an icon in the Hoppers Crossing area, even the tallest tree in the forest was once a sapling, and Romeo’s family business has a particularly romantic back-story behind its growth to such soaring heights.
“It all started in a backyard only 500 metres from here,” Romeo says, from the shade of one of many greenhouses spread throughout All Green’s five-acre site.
“Together with my father, mother and siblings, our family became market gardeners on the same property. Everything happened straight from our backyard.
“Going back 45 years ago, we became the first market gardeners to start selling indoor plants to supermarkets.
“Dad and I would plod along with my sisters, and from there it just grew and grew.”
Nowadays, All Green is a landscaper’s nirvana, supplying everything from cement to sand, screening to scoria and bark to Banksias. The nursery’s range is as vast as the area it occupies.
Looking at All Green now, it’s impossible to imagine it emerging from anything smaller than a warehouse. One of the first things you notice as you enter the yard is the 32 shining Isuzus, weaving around the bays of woodchips and soils, flaunting All Green colours.
“We’ve got a fleet of 32 Isuzus, mainly tippers, that range from 3 to 13.5 tonnes,” Romeo said. “They’re the best trucks on the road for hauling garden supplies.
“They mainly do tipper work, but I’ve got a couple of tautliners as well. They’re a very strong truck, superbly reliable and Isuzu’s back-up service is the best on the market by a long shot.”
Although by sheer scale, All Green may look like a national franchise, it’s a family business whose rapid growth has never relied on massive pockets, but on strong community connections and unbeatable customer service.
That’s the way it’s always been for All Green and, under Romeo’s watch, the way it always will be.
“In the beginning, people got to know us from the backyard of my dad’s place,” Romeo beams.
“We had a couple of hothouses with indoor plants. People would come over and say ‘Oh, why don’t you get some shrubs?’ So we got some shrubs.
“Then we were asked, ‘What about some bark and soil?’ Well, we started with a few bins and a bit of soil and it eventuated from there.
“Every year we increased our size by 30 – 40 per cent. Every single year. We started with a team of four of us and 35 years down the track, we have over 80 employees.”
Romeo smiles as he says this. All Green is now much more than just a family business, it’s a business that provides for families, that families have grown up with, and that families can enjoy together.
Given All Green’s imposing size and the variety of products it offers, it may come across as a behemoth, but to Romeo, and the staff that work there, it’s simply the business flowering because of the love, care and nurture that’s poured into it every day.
“A lot of our work’s local and we have a strong community focus,” Romeo says.
“But Point Cook has grown over the years and Tarneit’s huge now, so we go everywhere, Cranbourne to Geelong, you name it.
“It puts a huge amount of pressure on the trucks we own, but that’s why we only buy the best.
“Our Isuzus do from 200,000 to 250,000 km a year. They fire up at 6:30 am and they’re still going at 4:30 in the afternoon.
“I’ve always really liked Isuzus. At one stage we had a fleet of five trucks from another Japanese brand, and by the time we switched to Isuzus I couldn’t wait to get rid of them.”
Romeo laughs. “The Isuzus are a stronger truck, enough said.”
Interestingly, more than the competitive prices or high quality that All Green is famous for, Romeo emphasises the importance of strong business relationships, and he’s not one to shy away from a loyal partnership.
“I’m a service man,” Romeo says. “I don’t demand anything, but I want a fair price, and I treat others the same.
“That’s why we buy all our trucks through Ballarat Isuzu.
“Ballarat takes hours for me to travel to, but I have a great relationship with Ian Deacon (the Dealer Principal) and they never let me down.
“They always do the right thing by me and we can negotiate on price,” he grins.
“We work the Isuzus very hard but they’ve been great, and I’ll keep buying them for as long as I’m running the business.”
For the evergreen Romeo, that could be a very long time.