The two black limousines caught one’s eye even with the blue lights turned off, as they stopped in front of the company Pellens Hortensien in Geldern, Germany, this Tuesday (22.9.2020). Out of the car stepped Armin Laschet, Prime Minister of Nordrhein-Westfalen. Due to an invitation from Silke Gorißen, candidate for becoming county commissioner in the county Kreis Kleve, he found his way to visit the company. The two politicians took an hour to inform themselves about issues that currently concern the gardening sector.
“It was a very personal atmosphere”, described managing director Andreas Pellens the visit. “The number of attending persons was small, so we could make intense use of the time and it was easy to keep up to the important Corona rules.” An elbow bump for greeting, the tour over wide paths through well-aired greenhouses and fields, distances being kept during conversations and while taking pictures – the masks were ready at hand but could stay in the pockets.
On the tour though the company Andreas Pellens spoke with Silke Gorißen and Armin Laschet about sustainability strategies, finding employees and about economic activity in the time of Corona. He could report about remarkable reductions in the water usage by adding mulch, about protection of the ground water by application of Osmocote special fertilizers and about the new planters made of recycling material; about beneficial insects, reduced amounts of plant protection products and the usage of renewable energies. „I like how progressively the Gardening Companies in our county push the protection of our environment”, Silke Gorißen said to this. An enormous development had taken place, but mostly this engagement stayed behind the scenes and it was an issue to her to draw attention to it, she added.
In front of a planning board Armin Laschets view fell onto photos of all employees and the fact that the team is very international. “We have changed our concept for seasonal workers over the last years”, Andreas Pellens here explained. “Instead of fetching workers from Poland or Rumania we now work a lot with refugees who are already living here and who are grateful for a chance to work. This year also Germans came to us who, due to Corona, had to work in short-time or lost their jobs. Some of our former seasonal workers are now employees. We see that working together with people from different nationalities fosters mutual understanding and support. And the wages earned are not being send into other countries anymore but strengthen the local purchase power.” Approving nods from the politicians. One wish Andreas Pellens expressed in this connection: A better availability of the public authorities for employers. If for work applications for refugees or questions in construction projects, employers needed quick answers. His words fell on open ears.
Only one question there was that Andreas Pellens did not give an answer for to Armin Laschet: How exactly the trick about the award-winning many-coloured hydrangea mixes called “Colour Club” worked. “That is a business secret”, Pellens said and earned an open laugh from Laschet for it before he at last stepped back into his limousine and drove off to Isselburg to a two-day cabinet meeting.