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Albert Kiep: 'The cooperative is the backbone of our industry'

April 3, 2024

Last summer, Albert Kiep flew to Australia with his four children and his wife, who is from this country. Quite a logistical operation. Fortunately, planning is no problem at all for the co-owner of chrysanthemum nursery Kiepflower. Certainly not now that he works as a Members' Council member alongside his business.

"From our company, we don't use Royal FloraHolland's services that much at all. An interesting announcement to start this column with, right? We mainly supply large-scale retail, so we arrange a lot directly with the customer. So why am I still committed to the cooperative, as a Member Council member? That is very simple. For me as an entrepreneur, but also for the floriculture sector as a whole, Royal FloraHolland is indispensable.

Why remain a member?
In 2022, I applied for the Members' Council. That way, I give a voice to growers from Bommelerwaard and growers of chrysanthemums. Balanced representation is important for the proper functioning of the Council of Members. The more votes, the better everyone's interests count. Because of my background in business computer science, I enjoy contributing to the finance committee.

There are more companies like ours. Nurseries that arrange many things themselves, outside the auction. Because it's more convenient, cheaper or maybe faster. Why should these kinds of companies remain members of the cooperative? Increasingly, that question resonates. Also with us. Yet I am willing to devote a significant part of my time to the cooperative. Because I can tell you: the work of a Member Council member requires a lot of hours. And those I am happy to devote to it.

Backbone of the sector
For me, the cooperative is the backbone of our sector. Because we growers are united, we have a voice. In politics, in the world, and towards major customers. We are not so easily played off against each other, as in fruit and vegetable growing, which allows us to ask fairer prices. The clock is indispensable, also for us, because it ensures price formation. And having a platform that we provide together keeps our supply in balance. There is room for niche products, in addition to the standard offering, which keeps us interesting as a sector for customers of all shapes and sizes. In short: for us, that relevance of the cooperative is perhaps not even so much in the services, but particularly in the greater importance of a common base in the sector.

As a Members' Council member, I enjoy working to strengthen this base. This can also be done from the finance committee. For instance, through realistic rates, through more customisation of member packages and through the discussions on volume advantage we are having now. With these things, we will make considerable progress in the coming year. And it is very nice to notice that the lines of communication between the company and the finance committee are short. That makes us really engage in discussions together.

Share your expertise
What I want to pass on to members is: have your say. Let your voice be heard. Let us know what is going on and what you need from the cooperative. There is a lot of knowledge and expertise among our members and we like to make the most of it. Input from members in all areas is super important. Or sign up for the Members' Council. It takes time, but you get a lot in return. In any case, my pride for our important cooperative has only increased in the past year, thanks to my work for the Members' Council."