Exactly one year ago, on September 1, 2022, Menno Krabben started Menno Advies, a consultancy for the professional grower who wants to focus primarily on doing what he does best - growing products. In the first place, Menno, who has been visiting numerous growers for decades, offers purchasing advice. In addition, growers can turn to him for coaching employees or as support in managing the business.
And all that without pomposity, which he dislikes. After 32 years of working for a supplier, the last 12 of which as a sales manager, he took a few months to reflect: what do I really want, what am I good at, and in what way can I really add something? "I was asked a number of times whether I could become a sales manager elsewhere, and I did hesitate, all the benefits and securities of a permanent position are, of course, nice. But at the same time, several growers also approached me, whether I couldn't support them in one thing or another. That's when I came to the conclusion that I am best placed and can add the most by standing next to the grower as much as possible."
Menno sees that role primarily as procurement support. "These days, a grower is busy with lots of side issues. As a result, purchasing often falls by the wayside, and too much is often paid for consumables, and it often takes too much time to seriously look into technical products that need to be purchased. Thanks to my education and experience over the past 40 years, I think I know how to support and advise the grower in this respect."
Saving money and time
Not only can savings be made with smarter purchasing, a lot of time and peace of mind can also be gained. "I have not yet experienced a situation where I have not proved my value, yet that is not the main goal as far as I am concerned. I simply have the time to immerse myself in tenders, and for many products, I know the market well. And although procurement consulting is not something you see much in our sector to my knowledge, there are several growers and grower associations that I can support well in this way."
A slightly different discipline, but one that, on closer inspection, is also often an extension, is coaching that grower in terms of running his business. In practice, you have to think of, for example, a grower who has to get along with his sons or where there is friction with a partner or loyal employee. In addition, Menno often sees examples of boys or girls who have grown up and ended up in 'middle management.' They then have to start leading, and that does not run smoothly, resulting in clashes and stiff cogs in the machine of the business. "I often saw this happen in my time when I was still visiting the growers almost every day, and often spending a few hours watching and walking along a couple of times can do wonders."
'Coaching on the job,' in other words, and that is right up Menno's street. "This way of working suits me, it's great when you can really make a difference. Moreover, the freedom is nice, and what I don't miss is having to manage others or working for a boss. But maybe that is also an age thing."