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Moon Biobased Products and Klasmann-Deilmann are going to cooperate on the international marketing of the Growcoon. The Growcoon is a 100% biodegradable plug root, developed and produced by Moon Biobased Products.

“Over the past year, the Dutch market has confirmed that Growcoon is a pioneering, forward-looking and successful product for the horticultural sector. To get growers’ attention for this product in the Netherlands and Europe, we were looking to work with an established, international party,” says Bart Oude Wesselink, Managing Director of Moon Biobased Products. That party turned out to be Klasmann-Deilmann, the global substrate leader with its own peat bogs in Germany, Ireland, Lithuania and Latvia. The substrate supplier currently has no root plugs in its range, and sees the Growcoon as a game-changer. Ted Vollebregt, Managing Director of Klasmann Deilmann Benelux, says, "We see the Growcoon as a product that will bring structural change to the horticultural sector."

Game-changer

The Growcoon is a 100% biodegradable root plug for horticultural use. The degradation time is 12 months on average, depending on the substrate’s bacterial activity, humidity and acidity. The active soil life in open field crops accelerates the decomposition process. The Growcoon can be automatically introduced in all standard trays, and filled with substrate. The Growcoon’s correct shape, coupled with loosely filled substrate and an open mesh structure, is an ideal base for optimal and rapid plant growth. Following the successful introduction in 2016, Moon Biobased Products is expecting at least a tenfold increase in sales in 2017.

Source/photo: Maan Biobased Products.

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Bakker.com is de Amazon of plants. On an average day, its 500 employees process 28,000 orders from more than 11 countries. CEO Paul Geraeds explains how, 70 years after it was founded, this fully family-owned company is able to achieve a turnover of 125 million euros.

‘We have two distribution sites in the Netherlands. In De Zilk, the plants are assembled, as it were. This is a procedure that resembles pre-packaging. A pot of herbs, for example, is made up out of several plants. These are gathered together here, pout in a single pot, and subsequently sent to our headquarters in Lisse, from where they are shipped to the customer.’

‘You could consider us a green version of Amazon, or its Dutch variant Bol.com. This green distinction is very important, because our added value lies in our knowledge of how to treat plants and the packaging methods they need. One third of our turnover is still generated by the sale of flower bulbs. Every tulip bulb we sell is put through an X-ray device to ensure that it is properly developed. We store our bulbs in eleven climate zones, in which the temperature, air circulation and humidity are precisely identical to that in the bulb’s country of origin.’

Is that really necessary? At Schiphol airport those bulbs are simply displayed in the racks.
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What happens there and in other stores is terrible and is contrary to how the Netherlands should be promoted. As a branch of industry, we should oppose this. At Bakker, quality is our key priority; we aim to deliver the freshest and most attractive plants possible. This isn’t only due to the customer satisfaction aspect; delivering good products is a matter of pride to us.’

‘Planning is also more difficult when you are selling living plants: which colour will be coming into fashion next? When we are putting together our range of flower bulbs we make convenient use of the Keukenhof park and permanent flower exhibition, where we maintain a big bed of flowers with a huge diversity of varieties and colours. All we have to do is find out which colour combinations people like best.’

How do you do that? Do you conduct market research?
‘No, it’s even easier than that. Once this season is over, we analyse all the images on Facebook and see which flowers or flowerbeds were photographed most often. We then base our new collection on this information.’

Once this season is over, we analyse all the images on Facebook and see which flowers or flowerbeds were photographed most often.

‘It was not until after the Second World War that we really started up our export activities. The Netherlands was devastated at the time, and we received many goods from the United States and Canada. Our founder, Piet Bakker, responded smartly to this by thanking our benefactors overseas with gift packages of flower bulbs.’

So, Piet Bakker was actually a green version of Freddy Heineken?
‘Yes and no. The company doesn’t so much owe its commercial success to advertising but, in addition to a focus on providing high-quality merchandise, to database marketing. In 1953 we were already working with index cards, sorted according to customer details and purchasing behaviour. Piet Bakker was one of the first people to understand the value of an address.’

‘This is the core competency we used to build up our international market position. We put together a catalogue twice a year, which is then distributed among our target group. These are the customer addresses we know, but in order to expand our database we also establish affiliations with other post order companies. Their customer base is then analysed by postal code and whether or not these prospective customers have a garden. The primary segmentation criterion is that they make frequent use of remote purchasing, while the secondary criterion is, of course, that they actually have a garden. We also advertise in international gardening magazines, from which we aim to generate leads to our products. Not only in print, but also on television. In the Netherlands, for example, we sponsor ‘Rob’s Grote Tuinverbouwing’, a popular garden remodelling TV programme.’

‘To put it briefly, our initial strategy was to look for customers. Our current strategy is all about being found.’

‘To put it briefly, our initial strategy was to look for customers. Our current strategy is all about being found. This can be brought into connection with my appointment as the CEO of this company in 2014. My prior work experience was in the leisure business, where I learned to use all the possibilities that the Internet offered Center Parcs. We understood that the post order model was not infinite; it is partly because of this that I was appointed to start using this as soon as possible.’

‘The first thing we did was to build a completely new website that was adapted to the requirements of our modern age. To be honest, it’s even ahead of its time. You are probably familiar with the function that when you click on a product, a list appears at the bottom of the page saying ‘these products could also be interesting to you’. We make use of this function as well, but the preferences are different in every country. Previously, we had to adjust the settings ourselves, but the products to be shown are now automatically selected for every region through artificial intelligence. An automatic optimization of the web shop!’

‘It is our intention that the webshop will ultimately replace our catalogue, or to a considerable extent. Our commercial policy is therefore also directed at being found instead of finding. We do this by delivering good content and publishing this in such a way that it is immediately found when somebody searches for something related to our products on the Internet. Our e-commerce marketeers know exactly which advertisements should be show in every country triggered by which query.’

‘In addition to search advertising, search engine optimization is very important: how will people find you in the search results without advertising? There are several methods available for this, but the most important of all is content. The more relevant content is offered on your website the higher your ranking will be and therefore your chances of being found. In this, content is the most important criterion. We have, for example, created a number of short videos with pruning instructions or demonstrating the best way to get rid of snails, in addition to 800 articles full of gardening tips and inspiration.’

‘I also find it extremely interesting to see how old economics and modern new economics come together. In our search for more and more content, we are grateful for the knowledge of Jacques Bakker (one of the two sons currently leading the company), who has designed a comprehensive gardening course containing 24 lessons. This is an ideal vehicle to help you move up in the search rankings and we are now busily engaged in digitizing content.’

‘It’s clear that the turnover we are generating through online sales is growing much faster than the initial post order sales. In this, I am referring to fat double digit figures.’

‘It’s clear that the turnover we are generating through online sales is growing much faster than the initial post order sales. In this, I am referring to fat double digit figures. Of course, we have a large organization, and a number of jobs that are out-of-the-ordinary compared to the average gardening company. We employ seven database marketeers and 12 e-commerce experts, and have our own DTP department to handle all our communication.’

‘We currently deliver our products to 19 European countries. In 11 of these, we have our own service center for customer support. Only 7% of our turnover is generated in the Netherlands. In a country as small as this, the nearest gardening center is only 15 minutes away, but in France or Norway you might have to drive for half an hour or even 40 minutes. The convenience of having products delivered to your doorstep is only increasing.’

Don’t your customers find it strange when they order a product from an Italian branch and receive a package sent from the Netherlands?
‘Yes, of course, they can tell on the packaging that their product comes from the Netherlands. But if there is anything that we are not ashamed of it is our Dutch roots. To the contrary, what could be better for a green company to be established at the very heart of the bulb region, with Keukenhof within flying distance?’

Flying distance?
‘Yes, in order to emphasize our unique location we put together a short video showing a drone leaving from Keukenhof and landing on our company premises, all of which takes less than one minute.’

With thanks to: Exportmagazine.nl.

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Breeders of pot chrysanthemums have for a long time aimed to optimise the task of the grower. By concentrating on ‘families’ of varieties the crop has been raised to a new level. Now it’s time to make a new step forward, says Elien Pieters, of Gediflora. Marketing and promotion – traditionally not the job of the grower – are getting more attention. Here there is still much scope for innovation.

The number of pot chrysanthemum breeders is straightforward: 11 nurseries in total in Belgium, the Netherlands, Germany, France and the US. Gediflora, of Oostnieuwkerke, West-Vlaanderen, Belgium, is market leader with about 60%. Two years ago Elien Pieters took over the nursery from her father. Actually at that point she wasn’t very interested in chrysanthemums; she had studied business sciences. But after one month she was excited.
She saw plenty of opportunities in sales and marketing. Her input brought the nursery into a new phase, just like when her father took over from his father. He brought breeding to a high international level. Breeding remains the core business but promotion and marketing will also get more attention in future.

Keep the green fingers

The nursery has 14 ha of open field (including the selection field) and 3 ha of greenhouses. It employs 31 full-time workers and in the peak season (rooting of cuttings) an additional 40 seasonal workers. Worldwide it sells 70 million cuttings (including licenses), of which 40 million are in Europe. The Netherlands is the largest market for cuttings, followed by Belgium and Germany in joint second place and France in third.
“Our nursery comprises three divisions,” says Pieters. “The R&D-department is involved with classical crossings and selection, breeding of mutations and carrying out projects with institutes. The second area is the propagation. We have partners in Brazil and Africa who produce the cuttings. The cutting are checked here in Belgium and then shipped to the client, rooted or unrooted. The third area is our own production. We do this purely to maintain our green fingers and to get feedback from retail. We then pass this information onto our customers. We make sure that our production does not cross paths with that of our clients.”

Breeding in families

Targeted breeding is difficult in chrysanthemums because the crop is hexaploid. In the past, the emphasis was on extending the season. Now that this has been achieved the emphasis today is on creating families. Other characteristics remain important for breeding she says. “We want the plant to have a nice ball shape without having to be disbudded, so no labour; also resistance to diseases, such as rust, is selected for at an early stage. Sometimes nice varieties are rejected for this reason. Furthermore, the flexibility of the canopy is an important feature. It has to slide well into the sleeve and then unfold again well when at the consumer. In addition we work with varieties that require none or very little growth inhibitor.”
Breeding in ‘families’ has clearly lifted the crop to a higher level. A family is actually a variety that is available in different colours. For example, the Jasoda-family is worldwide number one and is available in colours dark orange, pink, yellow, mauve, red and white. “Producing families gives our clients the highest return. Because they are the same variety you can apply the same treatment to the different colours: the same time for shading; the same kind of inhibition; the same planning. However, there is a disadvantage to growing in families: you can’t suddenly change the colour,” she says.

Very strong genetics

Clear trends are visible in the consumer market: Pink tints are the favourite at the beginning of the season (August), autumn colours at the end (November). But breeding is a long-term affair so it’s difficult to respond quickly to consumer trends. “In the long run breeders have to follow their own line. But during the introduction of new varieties you can purposefully place the fashionable colours in the market. Actually you should be able to fulfil all the trends from your breeding program,” says Pieters. In addition, the leading Belgian breeder wants to reach more market segments by producing different varieties, such as large flowers, new colours and diverse flower types.
In the past, yellow, with 60% of the sales was the main colour. That is now 40%. In traditional catholic countries, such as Spain, white-flowered plants still play an important role in the cemetery at the beginning of November. “Tradition is okay, but we can’t live purely on tradition,” she says. “We have a comfortable starting position with very strong genetics; the challenge now is the marketing."

Belgian beer

This begs the fundamental question whether or not it is the role of the breeder to promote and position the end product in the market. In order to create ideas she meets with, among others, the retailers. This led to the promotion line, Buddies: special varieties that are wrapped in a matching-coloured sleeve, which also gives tips on care and use. A booklet is included to highlight the plant’s role in creating atmosphere both on a patio as well as inside. “The aim is to use these promotional materials as part of the partnership between our clients and their customers,” she explains.
Belgian Mum No. 1 was developed as a promotional eye catcher for selected customers: This is unfiltered Belgian beer that contains an extract of chrysanthemum flower petals. “For the retail market we especially created a duo-presentation: the MumBeer and a glass in stylish black packaging plus a pot chrysanthemum in a black sleeve.”

Unexplored territory

The duo-presentation is a striking way to create a positive and surprising feeling towards the pot chrysanthemum. But it is relatively unexplored territory, says Pieters. “We still have a long way to go regarding the promotion of the end product. It is very labour intensive; it costs a lot of money and you don’t see any direct return. It’s about keeping alive the enthusiasm for the product. And there is still much to do in terms of experience. But it is very nice to create new inspiring concepts."

Summary

Key criteria for breeders of pot chrysanthemums are: extending the season; disease resistance; flexibility of the canopy; and building up ‘families’. The latter has raised the crop to a higher level. With the appointment of Elien Pieters to the board of a Belgian breeder company, more attention is being paid to marketing and promotion.

Text: Tijs Kierkels. Photos: Wilma Slegers

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Tasty Tom has been around for twenty years, during which period this flavourful fruit has grown into a renowned brand and a standard of taste among all tomatoes. However, Tasty Tom did not grow into a success overnight, acknowledges Ton Janssen, aka ‘Mister Tasty Tom’. If you want your fresh produce brand to be and stay a success, you have to walk a tight line. We underestimated the amount of time and effort this would take.’

Twenty years ago, the Germans called Dutch-grown tomatoes ‘Wasserbomben’, or water bombs. Their image has improved tremendously, partly thanks to Tasty Tom. How did you manage this turnaround?

‘Perseverance is particularly important, and adamantly refusing to do any concessions to taste. We started growing the unique Tasty Tom variety developed by Enza Zaden under a licence in 1995. We had tested several other new varieties, but ultimately chose this one on account of its great taste. Although the next few years saw the introduction of several new varieties that scored higher in terms of production and ease of cultivation, we would have had to make concessions to taste and we decided to stick to our Tasty Tom. To be honest: the idea of switching was quite tempting at times! Still, we never lost our focus on taste; this was and is the key to a successful product. Consumers were wildly enthusiastic about Tasty Tom right from the start. This is mainly due to the variety’s sweetness: Tasty Tom has a Brix value of at least 6.0, which can rise to even 8.0 in summer! Consumers buying Tasty Tom can be guaranteed of a good-tasting tomato! With other tomato varieties, this can be like playing Russian roulette: what you buy one week won’t taste nearly as good the next, or vice versa. That’s disastrous to your reputation.’

Still, for consumers to appreciate the taste of a product, they must be able to try it first. Is promotion a determining factor for success? 

‘Absolutely! Promotion is one of our key focus areas, and has been from the very beginning. It took quite a bit of persuading to draw the attention of the retail industry and consumers to Tasty Tom. I took the lead in this by visiting countless trade fairs, making television appearances, mounting Europe’s biggest billboard onto our greenhouse, tasting demonstrations - you name it! I did everything I possibly could. I even walked around in a tomato suit several times!

'Tasty Tom taught me a new side of myself that had, until then, remained concealed.'

All these promotional activities served as a tremendous eye-opener for me personally: I noticed that I genuinely enjoyed spreading the word about Tasty Tom. Tasty Tom taught me a new side of myself that had, until then, remained concealed. As growers, we built up the Tasty Tom brand through concerted effort, making use of each person’s unique and individual talents. You simply cannot tackle a task like that on your own!

At first, we thought that once we had launched the brand we would be able to take it easy. Well, we were quite wrong in that! If you are representing a brand you need to continue building on that; you never have time to lean back. To remain a constant on consumer shopping lists we still need - after twenty years - to actively focus on promotion and we still make every effort to come up with new and surprising promotional campaigns and stunts. Or we introduce different packaging, or a new logo. With Tasty Tom it’s just like any other brand: inertia is tantamount to decline.’

What were the highlights you experienced in the past two decades?

‘There were several. What continues to astound me is how many people take the time to send us an email to let us know how much they like the taste of our Tasty Tom tomatoes.

The most bizarre experience was, without a doubt, the Tasty Tom promotional campaign we held at the Game-com Trade Exhibition in Cologne: a trade fair for computer games that was visited only by the younger generation. There was incredibly loud music playing and we thought: “What on earth are we doing here?” Still, our stand had more visitors than any other: those boys and girls ate every single tomato we brought!

'Looking back, we probably should have introduced the snack tomato earlier.'

But the absolute high point is that Tasty Tom has grown into a genuine brand in the past twenty years and is now an established name. It’s difficult to pin this to a specific point in time, but Tasty Tom became a household word about five years ago. ‘Tasty Tom is mentioned in the same breath as brands like Chiquita and Zespri.’

Did you experience any disappointments? Or is there anything that, with the knowledge you have today, you would have done differently?

‘Looking back, we probably should have introduced the snack tomato earlier. We put a small-scale version of the PartyTom on the market ten years ago. At that point in time, snack tomatoes had already become a hype and have since grown into a bulk product. We decided to discontinue the product because we did not want to take part in the price battle. If we had been ahead of the masses in launching our product, we would have been able to deliver added value and get a better price.’

Tasty Tom is, however, not the only tomato brand around. Tommies and Honingtomaten, for example, have also become established brands. What is your opinion of these brands? To what extent are they Tasty Tom’s competitors?

‘These parties also opted for a tomato that distinguishes itself through its taste, which is something I admire whichever way you look at it. Additionally, the way both these brands were launched on the market was fantastic. A lot more money went into their launch than into that of Tasty Tom; our budgets are limited. Besides that, Tommies were launched internationally. As the growers of Tasty Tom, we once considered taking its cultivation international, but decided against it because we were uncertain if we could guarantee our consistently high level of quality. None of our association’s members wanted to move abroad. Besides that, the investment we made in lighting is now enabling us to grow tomatoes all year round.

Of course, we compete with Tommies and Honingtomaten in our niche of the market. The money consumers spend on these tomatoes won’t be spent on Tasty Tom. Still, we aim to rely above all on our own power and take pride in what we have achieved with Tasty Tom.’

What can be done to help the Dutch greenhouse horticulture industry find its way back to the top? Is the recovery plan instigated by Cees Veerman and the Rabobank the best option?

‘I have my doubts about that. We will never manage to get everyone in the same line and all growers on one and the same sales point. The differences in thinking are enough: people from the Westland region have an entirely different approach compared to people from Limburg, for example. They focus on superlatives and dare to take greater risks. That starts to hit a sore spot. I think that this is an important reason why growers and growers’ associations based in the southern part of the Netherlands don’t participate in the recovery plan.

'The problem with greenhouse horticulture is mainly the fact that too much is being produced.'

The problem with greenhouse horticulture is mainly the fact that too much is being produced. As a result, most growers are not participating in a demand market, but in a price fighters’ market. Launching a genuinely distinctive product on the market is the only way to avoid this. However, not everyone is equally well equipped to do this, and it certainly isn’t easy. Additionally, as a grower you can’t do much more than keep your costs under control as well as you possibly can. This can only be done to a certain extent anyway: you can never accurately predict the development of the global economy or the price of oil.’

Which of your colleagues do you admire the most?

‘Gosh, that’s a difficult question! Or actually, it isn’t. Rob Baan of Koppert Cress is someone I respect tremendously. He is a great advocate of promotional activities, just as I am. Rob is also a great spokesman and really puts his neck out for the sector through such activities as setting up the culinary television channel 24Kitchen. Additionally, Rob focuses on the distinguishing properties of his cress; there is something special to every one of his varieties.’

What are your plans and ambitions for the next few years to come?

‘We have lots of new plans on the drawing board: we just adopted our new five-year plan last month. I can’t go into any details, of course, but what I can tell you is that Tasty Tom will be spreading its wings!

On top of that, we will keep looking for new tomato varieties with better cultivation and production traits. However, we will only switch to a new variety if it can measure up to our current variety in terms of taste - and that’s quite a difficult act to follow!

Whether or not we will be expanding our current acreage of 62 hectares depends on market demand. It is crucial that we continue listening to the market. We have done that in the past two decades and will continue to do so in the future!’

The Tasty Tom growers’ association is currently composed of Ton Janssen from Venlo; Hans, Gerard and Eric Vereijken from Vereijken Kwekerijen in Aarle-Rixtel; Wim Peters from Someren and Roland Ghielen from Grubbenvorst. They collectively grow 62 hectares of Tasty Tom tomatoes. That’s almost 24 times the 2.6 hectares that Tasty Tom initially started out with in 1995. Tasty Tom tomatoes are sold through the ZON Fruit and Vegetable Auction to traders and retailers in selected countries. Besides distribution in the Netherlands, Tasty Tom is also popular in Germany, Scandinavia, the UK and Japan.

Text: Tuinbouwteksten.nl/Ank van Lier. Photo: Tasty Tom.

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‘Internationalisation is crucial to us’, explains Meiny Prins, CEO and co-owner of Priva, and Businesswoman of the Year 2009.

‘Priva is a family-owned and operated company that supplies climate control products and services. We serve two markets: the built-up environment and production horticulture. We offer measuring and control equipment that will enable its users to achieve the highest possible returns with the least amount of energy possible, and while using the greatest amount of recycled water possible. Our knowledge in the field of horticulture is based on two components: our expertise in the field of measuring and regulation, on the one hand, and our knowledge of plants, on the other. We know precisely what each plant needs and are able to coordinate our parameters to these requirements. This is also the difference between the two markets. There are a lot of variables in greenhouse horticulture, but a greenhouse is also a kind of intensive care unit. If something goes wrong, all the plants in it could die within an hour. This process is not as critical when it comes to buildings; we usually don’t complain unless it’s too hot.

'To keep a leading edge with regard to technology, over 150 of our 450 employees focus on product development, which is an aspect in which we invest a quarter of our revenue.'

‘Our exporting activities are also crucial. To keep a leading edge with regard to technology, over 150 of our 450 employees focus on product development, which is an aspect in which we invest a quarter of our revenue. The Dutch market is too small to bear these costs, let alone the risks of a possible crisis on the market. A workable distribution of risks is, in any case, important. We have to offer our employees a solid foundation. It takes three years to train a salesperson to be sufficiently knowledgeable with regard to our technology, for example. Training a service engineer takes five years, and the training programme for a project engineer takes a full decade to complete. When you invest as heavily as this in people, you can’t suddenly cut costs and then decide to expand immediately after. We sell our products for the horticulture industry in over 100 countries, we have 10 branch offices and supply our products to 140 specialised installation professionals worldwide. Our dedicated consultancy services, however, are still offered only from our head office in De Lier.'

‘As I mentioned previously, our exporting activities were relatively easy to get off the ground, as we are active within two sectors in the horticultural industry. It comes down to simply travelling along with your customers. In the course of time, Dutch growers have been relocating to all corners of the globe. I could even go so far as to say that every greenhouse horticulture project launched today, no matter where in the world, has a Dutch person or firm somehow connected to it. Growers become used to working with specific equipment when they were still in the Netherlands, and want to continue using it at their new location.'

‘The situation is entirely different in the building and construction industry. In this case, we moved from country to country, conquering our niche in the market as we went along. The first country we established a new branch in was Germany. This was not the easiest place to begin, as it was also the home base of many of our competitors in the building management system sector. It may not have been the best choice at the time. We currently have ten offices in such countries as Canada, the UK, Belgium and China.'

'Our new strategy focuses more on “verticals”, specific groups of customers.'

‘We are, however, planning to adjust our strategy, because this approach simply takes too long. It takes five to seven years for a newly established branch to start generating a steady profit. This procedure is too expensive, and too slow for building up a global network. Our new strategy focuses more on “verticals”, specific groups of customers, with scalable solutions that we can develop for specific segments and can subsequently roll out on a global scale. Examples include climate control in supermarkets, or operation rooms.’

Many business enterprises with a focus on exporting activities employ stringent selection criteria from the very start. All applications that do not immediately fall within a specific niche are not followed up on. What is Priva’s strategy in this?

‘Of course, we will look into the application, and do follow up on practically every lead except for in specific cases. What is an important point for consideration is that we are the absolute market leader in our segment. What we want to prevent under all circumstances is getting the reputation of being slow - or, even worse, arrogant.’

Are you personally still active in the market?

‘Certainly! My portfolio within our three-headed management team is commerce. I undertake a long journey twice a year, during which I concentrate on business development, in addition to customer relations management. My position as a CEO opens quite a few doors, and gives me opportunities to set my foot on hitherto unpaved roads. What I specifically aim to do, is to launch pilots in collaboration with businesses that play an exemplary role in the market. By using our equipment and accurately calculating the results and, above all, communicating clearly, we are able to convince other companies of the advantages of our technology much faster.'

You are unlike many other CEOs because you are actively engaged in marketing your firm’s products. Many companies these days are led by spreadsheet experts, and not by people who still play an active role in the market. What’s your opinion of this?

‘I’m not such a big fan of spreadsheets. If you start making calculations, you have to use them sooner or later and most often that will mean cutting costs. After that, it takes about a year to straighten out the consequential damage. What’s more important is that, if I were to start working that way, the rest of my business would be prone to following my example. Before you know it, everything will be directed at internal operations, and that’s not what I want at all. I - and the same goes for the rest of my company - prefer to direct my energy outwards.’

'“Adding value” is our motto, and if I succeed in doing this for another decade, I’m satisfied and will take it from there.'

Meiny Prins is a fervent supporter of the circular economy. She launched the ‘Sustainable Urban Delta’ initiative, a string of pearls in the field of water, food, energy and knowledge.

Is this a personal hobby, or does this tie in with your company somewhere?

‘Sustainability is never a mere hobby; it is a significant theme that deserves the same status as quality. I firmly believe that whoever can offer integrated solutions will have a leading edge on the competition. And that it is important to have a vision for the future. More and more people are drawn to living in a cosmopolitan environment, to urbanisation. This means that the waste water produced by these people will have to be used for the production of food. Waste derived from food will, in turn, be used as biofuel, and residual heat derived from greenhouses to warm residential areas. All of these systems will be scaled downwards, and inter-coordinated. As control is our business, we’re already engaged in developing the next generation of control equipment, in which we don’t take only the greenhouse or building into consideration, but also look into how we can coordinate our system to the processes going on in the direct environment.’

You are the co-owner of a successful business. What are your plans for Priva in the next 50 years?

‘I can’t think that far ahead! My motivation stems from the ability to provide added value. Following in the footsteps of my father, money is not a goal onto itself. Every euro is reinvested in the company. “Adding value” is our motto, and if I succeed in doing this for another decade, I’m satisfied and will take it from there.'

‘It’s not without a reason that I say a decade: these days innovations come and go at such a rapid pace and have such a gigantic impact that added value is the key to survival. Even stronger, everything that is not capable of contributing some sort of added value is disappearing or will be disappearing. This shift is more far-reaching and faster than gradual technical developments. In our niche of the business, we are already referring to what we call “disruptive innovations”, and “game-changing inventions”.'

'It is far better to develop your own Uber Taxi and retain control over it than to relinquish it to the competition.’

‘Within Priva we have already developed all the knowledge we need to cannibalise our own products. If we were to introduce our new concepts on the market, our own sales figures would drop by half. But that’s not what it’s all about; you can also think in terms of possibilities. By considering new markets to tap into, for example. Of course, you don’t really have a choice: if you don’t jump on an initiative, someone else will. It is far better to develop your own Uber Taxi and retain control over it than to relinquish it to the competition.’

This interview was made possible by Tuinbouwvertalingen.nl. Photo: Priva.