Twenty years ago, growers asked Bato Plastics for custom requests for 20,000 pots, but nowadays we’re talking much larger numbers. An order for 200,000 pots, clips or other customer-custom requests doesn’t surprise sales manager Hans Luijkx and his teammates anymore.
That’s why Bato is focussing extra on custom horticulture products nowadays. “Growers are scaling up and become large enough to invest in a customer specific mould, used to injection mould their own products. This is done to solve a technical issue with the crop, to optimise growing or to give a product its own, distinctive identity.”
Bato has made its own products for a long time, and the company from Zevenbergen, the Netherlands, sells them across the whole world, via dealers. Customising has always been their specialty, but especially in the past few years the focus on custom products has increased. The company also has its own Research & Development department, for three years now. Here, product engineers guide the whole product development ‘from idea to end product’.
Custom requests also come from suppliers, but Hans notices that the real demand and need usually comes from the grower, the end customer. The requests are very different. “I don’t really see a red line in them. It varies from growing questions, for which we find solutions together with the grower, to requests for a special size, shape or wish for substrate bins or decorative pots for ornamentals.”
Next to that, sustainability has an increasing role in the innovation and development of horticulture products. “Nowadays we can supply a large portion of our products based on biobased and fully biodegradable materials. Some of our products are even compostable under the right circumstances. The biggest challenge remains guaranteeing the same quality and lifespan, with less plastic.”
Bato is developing custom made products together with clients
International as well
Custom orders come from all over the world. “Although we mainly supply to dealers, we know many growers personally and visit them regularly. That way, they know where to find us for specific customizing questions. International customers as well. For instance, we made special substrate bins for an American customer, per his request. Same goes for a well-known Dutch client, I went over there with our entire assortment because he asked for it. The thing he was looking for wasn’t in there, so we started developing the ideal product based on his wishes and demands. I’m not saying that everything is possible, but definitely a lot. And because we are reactive and able to shift quickly, we notice that our customers appreciate us.”