Rooted in Dutch horticulture, established in North America and focused continuously on the ever-changing solutions needed by growers. That’s the company known before as A.M.A. Plastics. Cornelia Bradt-Monsma explains why they’ve changed their name to A.M.A. Horticulture, what’s going on in horticulture these days and what’s next.
Richard & Cornelia Bradt-Monsma on the CGC 2018, celebrating the new name of the company.
A big cake, a big crowd and big smiles - that’s how A.M.A. celebrated its new name at the Canadian Greenhouse Conference this month. “The name A.M.A. Plastics didn’t cover all our activities. It made people think that we were a manufacturer, when we’ve always been a supplier that does a lot more than selling plastic”, explains Cornelia (Connie) Bradt-Monsma, Managing Director of A.M.A. “In this exciting time, with new markets opening up, we operate as a solution-driven innovator.”
A solution-driven innovator - what does that mean? “Growers come to us with a vision, a wish, or a challenge. We help them make it happen, or we help them find a solution by reaching out to our network in the industry.” Thanks to this strategy, the A.M.A. product range has developed continuously since the company was established in 1982.
The new logo + name were launched on the CGC 2018.
Several new products came out this year at the CGC. For example, A.M.A. presented a new container that is specifically designed for the organic market. “Growing organic is increasingly common and this container offers growers a solution to grow organically and keep control over watering and soil.” The container is now in production and A.M.A. is already taking major orders. “Retailers and supermarkets are driving the organic growing industry because consumers are asking for more and more organic products,” says Connie. “Our clients are highly skilled and can grow just about anything, but they need the right tools to meet that demand. That’s where we come in.”
A.M.A. developed the organic container together with growers. “They came with input like how deep the bucket should be and how much soil volume they need in order to still maximize plants per meter. And, of course, the product has to be convenient for the staff. With our container, they don’t have to measure the required amount of soil. When the bucket is full, that is the right amount.”
The RootSmart system. Find out more about it here: https://www.rootsmart.com/
A.M.A. also collaborates with other partners in the horticulture industry. With Vineland Research and Innovation Centre they developed a new paper pot tray for air pruning trees. “There has been a lot of research and development in tree propagation over the last twenty years. While everything was focused on doing things faster, what is healthier for the tree very often hasn’t been the question. The wall-less, bottom-less RootSmart tray encourages lateral root growth, without obstruction. As the roots come into contact with the air outside of the tray, they naturally prune themselves, allowing continued growth in a healthy, lateral direction.”
These products clearly show how A.M.A. likes to operate: in collaboration with the market and with a focus on a handy solution for a convenient price. But there’s more to it. Their assortment also shows a focus on the trends in horticulture, and Connie agrees. “We are always looking for what is next by listening very carefully to our customers. We have to, that’s our job. When growers are looking for something, we have to be able to help them. In addition to delivering the solutions of today, we are focused on delivering the solutions of tomorrow."
Soft fruit cultivation
The rise of soft fruit cultivation is an example of this as well. Six years ago, there was hardly anything happening in Canada. However, A.M.A. Horticulture saw the potential of the new market and worked with strawberry consultants from Europe to understand the growing techniques and learn about the substrates and solutions necessary for customers to succeed in North America. “We knew people were looking for strawberries and thanks to those collaborations and our expertise, we were able to help growers when they knocked on our door. We became experts in North America. Since then, we’ve been asked to speak at conferences including the Ontario Berry Conference. We’ve continued to deepen our knowledge and are now helping growers with various questions in soft fruit cultivation.”
And what’s next? Can Connie lift the curtain a little bit? Will it be cannabis? Connie agrees it is an important emerging market, but also looks ahead even further. “The cannabis market is very hot right now and we have developed significant expertise in this area, but we know it will normalise, too. We challenge ourselves to look for future hurdles and begin working on a solution before it’s even needed. We look at the big trends - labour, sustainability, water - and combine those with the conversations we have with growers. This way, we are right there in the trenches with them, helping to overcome today’s challenges, and prepare for the challenges on the horizon.”