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Germ of an idea pays off for duo

A SUMMER job collecting seeds for mining companies in WA’s South West has grown into a business for Will Wishart and Andrew Johnston.

The pair have proved so successful, they are held up as role models by the Small Business Development Corpor-ation as part of its b.generation project.

They now sell cans of WA wildflower seeds around Australia and over the Internet.

All of the seeds are contract grown in the South West with the pair handling packaging in their Bayswater premises.

The cans contain thousands of seeds – enough to cover ten square metres.

While they cost $9.95 each, the cans hold far more seeds than packets sold in nurseries and the like.

Mr Johnston said the companies also sold in bulk to mining companies pursuing mine site rehabilitation.

Mr Wishart said the next part of the plan was to develop export markets. He said there were no restrictions on

shipping WA wildflower seeds to most countries.

“We’re doing the groundwork now to find export partners in the US, UK and Asia.”

Mr Wishart said they had made some forays into the eastern States but were finding it a hard market to crack.

“We’re looking to have a big push into the eastern States markets in February,” he said.

“That way we’ll be there in time to capitalise on the Olympics.”

Mr Johnston said the Garden in A Can products had proved very successful with Japanese tourists.

“You have both giftware and gardening market potential with the product,” he said.

Mr Wishart said starting the business had been tough but, after three years, the hard work is starting to pay off.

“Sales have almost tripled over this year,” Mr Wishart said.

“Last financial year we did about 35,000 units – primarily in WA.”

In fact, the business has done so well they have taken on a third partner, Mr Johnston’s brother Iain.

Mr Wishart said one of their biggest hurdles had been finding capital.

“The nursery industry is hard to break into initially,” Mr Wishart said.

While Mr Johnston has a background in national resource management, Mr Wishart has come from a completely different industry.

He studied hotel management and worked in the industry for two years.

“I got sick of it. I had always wanted to be in private enterprise. It was either going to be this or a guesthouse on the coast,” Mr Wishart said.

Besides the seed business, the pair also have an Australian native plant nursery in Beckenham.

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