We sat down with Brian Chapman, the brain behind the Power Planter, a pioneering system that allows you to keep gardening, no matter your age.
TBS: Hi Brian, please tell the audience a little bit about your background and how you came to lead Power Planter?
Brian Chapman: It’s a bit of a funny story. I’ve been a photographer for the past 20 years and live on acreage in North West Sydney. I’d always wanted to have that field of flowers look – you know, wildflowers across a meadow. After several failed attempts I decided to look into getting lots of bulbs to plant and found a lady selling them on eBay in bulk. She was clearing old stock so it was a bargain, so I bought 500.
Before they even arrived, I bought another 1,000 because they were such a good price. Then another 1,000, and another 1,000, and before I knew it, I had purchased 20,000 bulbs. “This is going to look amazing,” I thought.
But then the next thought I had… that every married man has… is, “what is my wife going to say!”
I had to figure out an easy way to get these into the ground. I tried small hand mattocks, manual bulb planters, hand trowels, tube planters, drill bits, even a lawn aerating machine…but they were all very difficult to use and there was no way I was going to be able to plant 20,000 bulbs using any kind of manual method. So I started looking overseas because surely someone had a better idea. That’s when I came across the Power Planter in the USA which I ordered straight away.
I remember being in the garden by myself… I didn’t want anyone to see me in case it didn’t work and I’d look like an idiot… I attached it to my cordless drill and fired her up… this thing went into the ground like a hot knife through butter. Three seconds and the hole was dug. I remember laughing out loud I was so excited. This was the solution and I could now tell my wife about the rather large bulb purchase.
The other funny thing is that I started out my career in horticulture having a degree in that field… and now I have come full circle back to it again.
What do you think it is about your background that has helped drive a deeper understanding around why customers need this product?
Having a love of beautiful gardens myself and living on acreage means we have thoroughly tested the Power Planters out. I knew I didn’t want to be putting my name to anything that would disappoint, and I can confidently say that the Power Planter certainly doesn’t disappoint. In fact, we have nearly 2,000 reviews from users across Australia and something like 90% awarding it five stars, with many saying it is the best tool they have ever bought.
What does gardening mean to you, and why is it so important to your quality of life?
A man’s home is his castle…but a man’s garden is his private parkland. I couldn’t stand living in an apartment. I need that space and feeling of there being more outside those four walls. To be able to connect with the earth and care and see something grow from a tiny seedling into a spectacular plant is pretty special. Over the last few months we have given our veggie patch a full makeover and now it has rows filled with spinach, kale, beetroot, cabbages, carrots…all organically grown and as fresh as you can possibly get. Half our dinner plate now comes directly from our own little patch, and we know exactly how it has grown.
What has been the most surprising part of taking Power Planter to market, in terms of either response or feedback?
When I first started, I thought it would mainly be people doing landscaping projects that would be the main buyers of the Power Planter, but the big surprise was the amount of seniors (that’s a polite way of saying the older generation) that have jumped on board. I never realised, but they have been struggling to dig their hard ground and are sick of waiting for their son or a hired hand to do it.
With the Power Planter and a cordless drill, they suddenly have the digging strength of a young person and it’s a total game changer for them. We are getting countless emails and reviews saying how much it is helping them and how thankful they are. Absolutely brilliant is what I say. It’s like a new lease of life for many.
Accessibility and ease is a huge component of Power Planters success; what has been the feedback from those who were previously unable to garden easily by themselves?
I’ve mentioned the seniors was a surprise market, but the other one was people with disabilities that have restricted movement. Ranging from wheelchair-bound to bad arthritis. They are writing to me and saying that they love their garden, and it’s a little escape for them but they normally have to pay someone to come and dig the ground before they can do anything. Now they can do it themselves without any fuss.
What have you found is the most powerful message that has helped people understand the value of having a set of tools that can change the gardening game?
Thankfully, there are plenty of people who don’t enjoy digging the ground manually, so when a viable solution came along, they were willing to give it a go.
We now have thousands of customer reviews saying it actually works as well as we show on the website videos, and I think those comments are the proof that a lot of people need to give it a try.
We still get the naysayers who declare that it couldn’t possibly work, which is pretty amusing now that we have so much evidence that it actually does work throughout all of Australia. We even give a 30-day try it out money back guarantee especially for the skeptics. The good news is there are a lot of converts, and we get hardly any sending them back for a refund.
What motivates you each day to continue to drive Power Planter?
I get to work from home, see the orders coming through all day long, and know that people are happy with the purchase they have made with their hard earned money. That is pretty darn satisfying.
Finally, as a business owner what advice would you give to those who believe they have a great concept or idea and want to take it to market?
I was chatting with a friend and she described herself as not having a creative bone in her body…I replied, you actually do, but you are afraid of making a mistake so you avoid giving it a go.
You see, creative people, business leaders, inventors…they all have one thing in common: they are willing to make mistakes and try again. It’s not that they always get it right – in fact, they get it wrong more times than they can remember, but by taking a risk and giving something a go, sometimes things fall into place and it all starts to happen.
So if you are sitting on an idea you know is good, don’t find yourself on your deathbed wishing you’d been braver.
Get out there and give it a go.
Surround yourself with people that are experts in fields that you aren’t. You don’t need to have all the answers, just be brave and take those first steps, and then trust that your brain will kick into gear and start solving those problems one by one.
I started with a dream to have a field of flowers.
Visit Power Planter today!