Agro Businessclub Westland on the innovative tour

Last week, the Agro Businessclub Westland visited Beyond Chrysant Chrysanthemum nursery in Hoek van Holland. According to the grower, there is nowhere in The Netherlands where the sun shines as much as it does here, and with a view of the open field, the forest on the horizon and the Nieuwe Waterweg and the sea in the back, brothers Wouter and Martijn are undeniably set up in a beautiful location.

Jacqueline van Oosten of 'the Club of 100' of Wageningen UR, Henr√ętte Hoogstad and Simone Keijzer of Gearbo; Marco Vijverberg, Euro West, with host Wouter Duijvesteijn; director of Flower Circus John Elsgeest and Richard van Duijn of Flamingo Flowers BV; and Roy v/d Knaap of KP Holland, Tom Zwinkels of Bryte (and Business Club De Groene AAP) and Ferry van der Ende of the eponymous Van der Ende Groep.

Click here for a photo report of the meeting

The theme of the meeting was 'innovation', a catch-all term of course, but if you find the right speakers and examples, it is easy to make it concrete. The Duijvesteijn brothers have plenty of ideas on the subject, and Simone Keijzer of Gearbox was also willing to talk about the technological marvels that this company introduces into horticulture.

Beyond Chrysant is possibly even the only company to guarantee a week's bloom on every flower, wherever in the world it is placed in the vase. "We started taking cooling and pre-cooling really seriously at a good time. We knew that by chilling flowers right away, we could achieve a serious improvement in vase life. But the trade did not want to use it at first, because the buds are smaller and the stems look weaker. But we never had any claims or complaints, the quality was always good. At some point, the market started to see that and they adopted it - which is when we came up with the idea of a guarantee."

Wouter Duijvesteijn

Give Wouter the chance and he won't stop talking, he seems to have an inexhaustible supply of anecdotes and ideas. Making your own cuttings, making a better press clod, finding applications for residual streams, making packaging more sustainable and using all kinds of cultivation materials, showcasing the product in striking ways, etc. Furthermore, the company has a Bercomex processing and selection belt, where camera technology is used to classify the flowers into quality classes.

Employees of the future
Simone Keijzer of Gearbox knows that in this field, among others, there is still a lot to be gained. With her company Gearbox, together with co-owner Johan Kreeft and now 30 employees, she develops 'employees of the future'. "The time of scaling up making the difference if over,  but you can always win by working smarter. We specialise in implementing vision technology and data processing in harvesting and product processing. We do this as much as possible by implementing the technology as if it were Lego blocks in existing systems, as opposed to always trying to reinvent everything."

Simone was brought up on horticulture. Pictured in the centre together with co-founder of Gearbox Johan Kreeft.

This has led to a set of 'employees' such as the GearVision (quality control), GearRover (harvester) or the GearSense (smart camera that works as a crop specialist). The company does everything itself: design, hardware, software and implementation at the customer. These solutions can count on a lot of interest and are a success, as everything shows: growth of the company, attracting investments, excellent customer reviews and finally a nomination for the Horticultural Business Award.

The next meeting of the entrepreneurs' association is already scheduled for June 30, in the new Growers United building.

Click here for a photo report of the meeting.

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