15 Years of Japanese Knotweed January 23, 2017

Life is odd…. I can confirm that this is the case having spent the last 20 years of it dealing with something that I stumbled on by accident.

People have often said to me… ‘oh you must have been very clever to have spotted the opportunity to set up a business dealing with Japanese Knotweed!’.

Now that would suggest that I was sat in a chair with some thick glasses on my head …just thinking about where I could create a successful business. It makes me sound like I dismissed loads of other ideas and focused on this gem of a business opportunity – because I realised the potential that lay ahead.

Not really.

I’m not that clever, i just happened to be in the right place at the right time.

Right place, right time – and with the right team …with the right skill set to deal with the problem.

What you have to realise here… is that 15/20 years ago – there wasn’t anybody dealing with Japanese knotweed.

Hardly anybody new what it was and even fewer knew what to do with the plant if you were unfortunate enough to have it on your land.

We are talking here about a series of fortuitous events that happened nearly eighteen years ago… let me take you back in time …

It was 1998 it was a long hard year…times were tough and money was scarce. I employed a team of skilled laborer’s but work was hard to find…

…then everything just seemed to click into place…

1.  We were employed as Landscape Architects on a site on the outskirts of Manchester which had been noted to have a serious issue with a very invasive plant. Nobody really knew what it was or how to deal with it …but because it was seen as a ‘landscape issue’ it came under my remit on the project

2.  The first approach to dealing with this new problem was to map and survey where the plants were growing. We knew how to do this as we were skilled in tree survey and identification of plant species.

3.  To keep the plants less viable it was decided to spray with a foliar herbicide – we already employed a team of spray operatives as we had a series of landscape maintenance projects.

4.  A new herbicide was being made available for trials which was a ‘residual’ herbicide – ‘Tordon 22K’ -the sales rep knew one of my team and made the product available to us.

5.  Several areas that were impacted by the Japanese Knotweed needed to be moved immediately – and this required use of heavy machinery. Our operatives were already trained and qualified in the use of heavy machinery and we had drivers with years of experience – digging and following root systems came naturally to them.

6.  Some areas required laying of a root barrier to prevent spread of fragmented rhizome – we were used to laying of pond liners and quickly adapted to laying of this new material.

Having successfully completed this project our name was passed from one project to another and suddenly our phones just didn’t stop ringing.

The skill set that we had for designing and building landscape works were an ideal cross over to the skills required for Japanese knotweed eradication – and so a new business was born – Japanese Knotweed Solutions Ltd was registered for business in 2002 and we simply haven’t looked back since.


Mike C

Blacklist January 18, 2017

As a business owner, do you ever get fed up with being messed about? In the current world, it appears that the employers have no power to do anything …about anything.

We are told that we can’t just ‘fire’ people we have to go through a lengthy disciplinary procedure and then ‘prove’ that someone can be let go. One warning, another warning, a final warning …all interspersed with training and encouragement. If these warnings are on file for longer than twelve months they are expunged and the process starts all over again.

Do you not find though that some people just use this to take the piss? It’s as though they put their cock ups in a diary – then after twelve months they think that they can mess you about a couple more times and still not feel threatened…?

Then…. as the business expands you try and get some new blood – some new members for the team – and it just seems impossible. People come to interview and accept the job – then they just don’t turn up for work?

Why would anyone accept a job then not have the common courtesy of telling you that they have accepted something else instead? Don’t worry – I understand if you’ve been offered more money – that’s fine – just bloody tell me…. rather than leaving me with my thumb up my arse waiting for you to turn up.

Or….you get somebody who at interview appears great – he has all the right experience – all the right qualifications …. BUT …it turns out that he is also a serious drug user. Previous employers know about this, but aren’t allowed to say anything (human rights) ….so the druggie just walks into his next job and is employed until somebody notices or it’s flagged up in a random test.

I’m beginning to feel that anybody who is qualified and yet still unemployed must have something wrong with them. There is nobody left in the job pool that doesn’t have issues – whether its alcohol/drugs/family problems…. or simply an inability to get up in the morning.

Then you have the problem of the people you let go – then going on social media and slagging you off. Nothing you can do – you have to take it – Facebook wont remove offensive comments as they feel it is a genuine reflection of the public perception of your business…. yet it’s just some loser who has asked all his mates to have a pop at you.

How about as business owners we get some sort of blacklist together?? I know, I know…it won’t be allowed…

…. but wouldn’t it be great to have a list somewhere of people that are just time wasters.

We could save each other serious amounts of time by highlighting some of these idiots – and maybe if they knew there was some sort of penalty for fucking employers around…maybe just maybe …. they would think twice about some of the crap they pull????


Mike C

Just Thinking…Big Brother is definitely watching January 15, 2017

I am a bit of an insomniac.

I go off to sleep ok but in the middle of the night I wake up and just can’t get back to sleep. Invariably I get up and start to do odd bits of work – I might read a book or make notes for a meeting that I am attending the next day.

I also find myself picking up my i-pad and checking diary for what the coming day/week/month holds in store…

Worryingly I have started to notice that I’m not the only one with insomnia.

Within five minutes of me picking up my i-pad – Amazon start to e-mail me with ‘offers’. These ‘offers’ are pretty damn specific as if somebody has been reading my mind?

That’s odd methinks – how does Amazon know that I’ve been wanting a pair of waterproof over trousers??

Now don’t get me wrong I know about ‘cookies’ and I know about ‘web tracking’ and I know that everything we do digitally is being recorded and monitored…but knowing I’m awake at 3am and e-mailing me when I’ve only just logged on…maybe a bit toooo big brother’ish???

Don’t like it.

Mike C

New Year’s Resolutions… January 11, 2017

Well corny as it may sound we have made a statement of intent at Japanese Knotweed Solutions Ltd (JKSL) to continue to offer the best service within the invasive weed industry. It’s an easy thing to say …but a lot harder to continue to offer this type of commitment in the doing eat dog world in which we live.

I have never been interested in offering a cheap poor quality service. Here at JKSL we have a receptionist, we have an admin team, an accounts team, a customer focused enquiry team and surveyors who manage their own region of the country. We write, we blog, we Facebook and we Tweet about all things relevant to our industry. We have a seminar every year where we discuss the critical issues of the year and welcome open comment on where the invasive non-native species market is heading. We do this to give something back to the clients that use us and to ensure that we are the number one source of all pertinent information.

The rest of the world seems intent on eating itself in some sort of parody of the snake eating its own tail. The faster we go, the more we need – so we go faster and need more… in a hamster wheel of stress. There are more and more companies offering to deal with your invasive weed issues and everywhere I go I see vans with adverts offering to treat your Japanese knotweed problems (even if half the time they offer to treat your knotWOOD not knotweed).

Lots of competition means fewer projects which in turn means that companies are fighting for work. The desperate companies offer cheaper and cheaper prices meaning that margins aren’t adhered to and the work no longer becomes profitable or sustainable so companies cease to trade.

PLEASE be careful who you chose to tackle your invasive plant problems as I believe 2017 will see a clear out of the lesser qualified companies. Look for companies who are members of INNSA (The Invasive Non-Native Specialists Association) – look for companies that adhere the Invasives Code and the New Code of Practice as issued by INNSA.

PLEASE make your resolution to use companies that are qualified and competent – and don’t just go for the cheapest price you can get.

PLEASE be aware – treating invasive species is not a one hit wonder – if your chosen company ceases to trade then your project will not get completed and your invasive plants will return.

When we all have to be qualified and insured to the same degree then the cost differences will be minimal and the difference in service level will be marginal.

When a company offers you a ridiculously cheap price (as often happens within this industry) it means they do not know what they are doing and will cause you greater problems in the long term …

Lets have an even playing field in 2017.

Mike C

Wet wet wet… January 4, 2017

No… not the name of a cheesy pop band – but a description of my drive home from work last week when I had the nightmare journey from hell as I tried to get home from North Manchester to South Manchester. The motorway was busy – as usual – but the weather conditions were horrendous. Torrential rain like it was the end of the world… windscreen wipers just couldn’t cope with the deluge being thrown down.

Getting nearer to Glossop things just went from bad, to worse – standing water on the roads, drains blocked, cars stranded …just unbelievable. I eventually got home having taken about three hours to cover the last three miles of my journey.

Once I had dried off and calmed down, Mrs C started asking what had caused these problems and whether this was just a freak one off occurrence…

So why was it so bad??

Global warming?



Hurricane Albert or whatever they’ve called the latest storm…?

I’m guessing it’s a more prosaic answer of ….local authority cutbacks??

If you get heavy leaf fall and nobody sweeps them out of the drains – then the drains will get blocked….simple.

If you don’t cut the edges of the highway then the leaves will get caught in the road verge and block the gulley’s designed to take water away from the road side …simple.

Life is actually really simple – if you have the money to do things properly.

Unfortunately this no longer seems to be the case with local authority maintenance teams and all the services we once took for granted.

How come nobody realises that all these little services that get axed – WERE THERE FOR A BLOODY REASON…!!!!

Mike C