Royal FloraHolland | 'A healthy business in a responsible,…
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'A healthy business in a responsible, humane way'

February 27, 2024

VDE Plant
VDE Plant, grower of exclusive green houseplants, is a finalist for the Horticulture Business Award. And not without reason. For this company, ensuring beautiful plants, a healthy business and a thriving floriculture sector is something you do together. Co-owner Edwin van der Eijk talks about it.

Sustainable on all fronts
"I'm sometimes asked what I'm proud of, and I think that's a good question. There is so much to be happy about: for example, the roof of our greenhouse/glasshouse, with highly insulating stegdoppel plates, which allows us to use 30% less gas. Or the way we treat our people: at our family business, we treat everyone equally. Investing in the people you work with is important. To me, treating each other well is also part of sustainability. For us, this is only natural.

In the old days, to put it in black and white, a grower's main business was making plants. But the world has changed. Our customers and consumers expect something different from us, and we like to do things differently too. That is why we approach our business as a formula. It takes a lot of factors to make that formula a success together. Quality, the right prices, employees who feel at home and comfortable in their jobs, service and innovation are some of them. A good balance between these different facets is what we strive for.

A healthy company

As an entrepeneur, you always set your sights on the horizon. Where are we working towards? With us, that focus is not on: more, more, more or bigger, bigger, bigger. What matters to us is running a healthy business. With an eye for our high-quality product, for the people who work here and for the earth from which we draw. For us, Royal FloraHolland plays an important role in that. In facilitating the necessary support for our trade: including payments, Floriday and also logistics. And in fuelling the conversation about sustainability - in our company and in the sector - by bringing the right expertise and people together. Just think about phasing out peat in potting soil. That is such a complex development; we desperately need each other in this respect. The same goes for certification and (among other things) good employment practices.

Step by step

It is not easy to change; that is just as true for our company. It starts with our own vision, to which we set a purpose | goal every year. Then we work towards it step by step. You don't have to tackle everything at once. A little each year is better than turning the whole thing upside down at once. Recently, for instance, we installed a heat pump at our Combined Heat and Power (CHP) plant. That's a four-tonne investment. But we now recover that residual heat nicely. And so we are getting ever closer to our purpose | goal.

In everything we do, we take the time to research our choice carefully. Here too, the information we gather through the cooperative and other growers is useful. When it comes to sustainability, there are so many developments. You shouldn't want to move too fast, because then you can make the wrong investments in no time. It is important to trade very carefully. Carefully weighing up all pros and cons, looking at the short and long term. And that's where you need each other. As an entrepeneur, you can't do that on your own.

It is extremely honourable that we have now been nominated for the Horticulture Business Award by Greenport Aalsmeer and Royal FloraHolland. That shows we are on the right track. It is a cherry on top of the steps we have taken so far. I hope this will inspire others. That we show: having a healthy business is perfectly possible in a responsible, humane way."

On 6 March, the winner of the Horticulture Business Award will be announced at a festive event at Greenport Aalsmeer.