Individual growers, like the horticultural sector as a whole, are facing major challenges in the next few years. GreenTech asked various young entrepreneurs about the opportunities and threats they identify with regards to their businesses. In this article, Thomas Bunnik of Bunnik Plants, located in the village of Bleiswijk, shares his thoughts on the efficient organization of labour in the horticultural sector.
Bunnik Plants specializes in the production of indoor plants. In the past years, the company expanded considerably, resulting in the fact that Bunnik Plants now owns and operates seven branches with a total surface of 25 hectares. On average, Bunnik Plants produces some 700,000 plants per week. In order to achieve that, the company employs more than two hundred people. And it is quite a task to let all these people cooperate in an efficient way, admits Thomas Bunnik. He represents - together with his cousin Dennis – the new generation of the Bunnik family within the company. According to Thomas, it is really important that all employees like to do their job and feel part of the company. Only then people can perform to the best of their abilities. ‘Five years ago we chose to transform into an organization with self-managed teams,’ says Thomas. ‘This system actually puts the pyramid upside down: employees in the company decide and management and members of the board fulfil an advisory role. In this way we want to create ownership in the workplace so that the responsibility for the organization is truly being carried by the employees themselves. In our sector you do not see this a lot, but in our opinion this approach will become more and more important in order to be really successful.’
Reinventing the wheel
It is an ambitious step, even more so because there are no other examples in the horticultural sector. ‘We therefore had to reinvent the wheel ourselves,’ indicates Thomas. ‘And we keep on inventing actually. What does and does not work? How to deal with profit-sharing? Should you offer people shares in the company? We need to find the answers to these questions.’ In any case, Thomas is convinced that this working method leads to the best results for Bunnik Plants. ‘By working in teams, decisions are taken faster and together the teams work out better ideas and solutions. That ultimately leads to more productivity, because if people feel responsible and involved, they are also committed to go an extra mile.’
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