Should I stay or should I go….
Throughout my life I’ve always been copied…. and I’ve always hated it. When I was at school I always liked music that was a bit …odd…and definitely not …middle of the road. I read the music papers I listened to John Peel and I had a most enviable record collection…BUT … as soon as any of my favourite bands became ‘popular’…I went right off them.
Undertones, Stiff Little Fingers, Clash, Sex Pistols, Stranglers, Joy Division, Ian Dury, The Jam, U2, The Buzzcocks, Magazine…all at one time or another were my favourites but usually only for their first album.
I used to drive SAAB 900’s but they became popular so I had to move on and find something a bit different. I then bought an Audi Quattro was pretty unique for the time and very rare – these of course then became incredibly popular …so I had to change again….moving onto Porsche….which of course have now become almost common…
I then set up as a Landscape Architect (there weren’t many around at the time I did this) and had a practice with several designers and a good client base. We were then undercut price wise, by recently qualified Landscape Designers who worked from their back bedroom with no office or admin team – often supported by their partners who were well paid within the private sector. They provided a cheap alternative to the professional services which we quoted for.
As an answer to this we then moved into providing a ‘design and build’ service – this was about thirty years ago – when NOBODY else was providing this service. We could provide a package giving a total service from design to conception on site and including an aftercare package. For a period of three to five years we flourished and made a decent living. However…’others’ started to latch on to the concept and again provided a similar ‘cheaper’ service undermining the market place and making it difficult to make a living. We even had somebody using our company name and copying our logo….
I then saw an opportunity within the field of Invasive Species and set up Japanese Knotweed Solutions Ltd. Again for a period of three years or so we had complete monopoly of the market place and were very successful. Again ‘others’ started to copy what we were doing, and copied our name , and copied our website….and yet again the ‘cheaper’ end of the market flourished and the ‘value’ of our services was perceived to be reduced.
I’m skimming the facts here but the point I’m trying to get at here is that at each stage of my career I’ve got pissed off with people copying me. I have never once in my life copied anything off anybody….it would cause me to be physically sick if ever I thought I had stolen somebody else’s idea…I just couldn’t do it. I’d rather give up than be seen as jumping on somebody else’s band wagon.
So….what should I do now? ….do I move on and abandon the Invasive Species market and find pastures new or do I carry on doing what I’m doing?
I am currently Chairman of INNSA (The Invasive Non –Native Specialists Association) so I do find myself with responsibilities beyond my own business interests and as such it’s not quite so easy just to move on. I do find myself in a bit of a quandary though – as the alternative Trade Body (who shall not be named) are having a seminar for their members and others interested in non-native species. The ‘Chair’ of this seminar is one of those ‘types’ to which I have alluded – he has simply jumped onto the band wagon having copied everything that I do ….and pretended that he thought of it himself…
He even had me to come down to his offices in Wales… TWICE….to give a presentation on Japanese knotweed…
….then he set up as ‘A******* Japanese Knotweed’….
So do I go along and give the bloke a smack in the teeth? …or do I act like a grown up and recognise that copying is the sincerest form of flattery.
Hmmmmm … I’m yet to show any signs of growing up.