Entrepreneurship in horticulture is like top sport. Eviek van der Arend, commercial and financial director of Westland Plant Nursery (WPK) knows all about it. The high quality requirements of vegetable plants on the one hand and the stricter requirements on pesticides on the other hand, force the company to enterprise creative. “The Westland Plant Nursery is a family company which cultivates plants for both greenhouses and the open field horticulture. From cucumber plants to red cabbage and from tomatoes to sprouts. We also cultivate ornamental plants that are ready for retail sales,” says Eviek.
“What are we good at? If a customer asks for tomato plants which have to comply to certain specifications in terms of size and flowering date, we will take care of that. Our strength lies in the quality of precision. “
“Our horticultural business is like a hotel. Like the tourism business, horticulture business also has peaks and troughs in the occupancy rate. Greenhouse growers need young plants in November and December and open field growers need them in May. The interim period is one to find alternatives. “
“To plug the occupancy rate of the greenhouse gap, we have set up a horticultural program named House & Garden. We deliver from March to September flowering potted plants to our customers, which has been a success. Also, we have grown for a few years poinsettias. Unfortunately it became increasingly difficult to fit the cultivation into the schedule. When such things happen we take our loss and try again. That’s entrepreneurship. “
“The challenge is to maintain the highest possible occupancy rates throughout the year and always to keep an eye for new opportunities. Such an opportunity may be economies of scale, but for that you need to obtain financial means. In 2008 the situation was not a rosy one. We then have submitted an ambitious plan to the bank, which was fortunately approved. This was the beginning of the upward trend. “
“Meanwhile the scale of operation has continued to increase and we have the investment more than fulfilled. Scaling is happening everywhere. Thus, this year our accountants and advisors at Stolk have joined DRV. That is a good thing: we have the same pleasant contacts which we already had, but now we have the broad expertise of a large firm as well. “
“Our success owes much to our open culture. My husband Erik and myself are the management, so we see each other day and night. Then you can’t be anything else than to be open and honest. We are also convinced that it is crucially important that our staff can continue thinking and contribute to the success of the company, the lean process. And it works. “
“For example, one of our co-workers proposed to graft the plantlets in a different way. Many employees including the production manager had their doubts, but after a week trial it showed that her method was better and more efficient. Now we embraced this new way of working. I believe in the power of a committed staff. In so doing, we survived the dip of 2008t and I am extremely proud of these accomplishments. “