Dutch Plantin about their Indian roots:

"Indians are much better negotiators than we are"

With twelve factories and some 800 Indian employees, Dutch Plantin is one of the most experienced Dutch SME’s in India. Director Jos van Doren: "We located our international sales office in India because Indians are much better negotiators than we are."




Coincidence
Jos van Doren is an India veteran. Van Doren visited India for the first time in 1988 and in 1994 he pioneered in that country with the production of coir. Coir is extracted from the outer husk of coconuts and is used as substrate for horticulture. "Coir soon proved to be a good, organic alternative to rock wool." Initially, Van Doren imported coir from producers in Sri Lanka, but that proved to be pretty troublesome. Completely by chance, he came in contact with a Dutch company that had children’s clothing made in South India: Oilily. "Their factories were in Tamil Nadu between the coconut palms. They introduced us to a good local partner with whom we started to work."

Perseverance
Setting up the first factory took a lot of blood, sweat and tears. "The purchase of land really took very long, likewise the import of machines and arranging of the power supply. Training of the staff also was a hefty task. You must have perseverance to succeed over here." But once it runs, it will go very well. Dutch Plantin has no less than twelve production sites around the city of Coimbatore where the headquarters is located."Now we are more an Indian than a Dutch company."


Dutch Plantin arranges transport for their employees (photo: Dutch Plantin)

Firm negotiations
For quite some time Dutch Plantin does not see India any more as just a cheap location for production. "Per year we export 3,500 large sea containers from India to more than eighty countries. Our sales office is also in India. This benefits us a lot because Indians can negotiate better than we Dutch. In the Netherlands, we prefer to work with partnerships and we like to negotiate based on an open cost calculation. Indians are much tougher: they are more interested in winning, than in win-win".


Director Jos van Doren and his Indian colleague Siby Joseph in Coimbatore (photo: Dutch Plantin)


One of the production sites of Dutch Plantin in Coimbatore (photo: Dutch Plantin)

Rapid growth

Van Doren hopes to continue to grow quickly in the coming years. "Our market is growing, so that means we have to put up more factories as quickly as possible. By now we know how to import machinery, how to arrange electricity supply and how to train staff, but the purchase of land remains a slow and tedious process." Is leasing land not an option? "Actually, no. Once the landlord observes that you are successful, the rent will soar. You should ensure that you are not dependent on Indians."

Which five recommendations will Jos van Doren give to entrepreneurs wishing to go to India?

1. Start small. Go step by step.
2. Let Indians do the negotiating (with Indians).
3. Trust is good, control is better. Have your accounts checked by an independent Indian accountancy firm.
4. Be humble. Preferably remain in the background.
5. Be true to yourself.

Source: India Connected

For more information:
Dutch Plantin
T: +91-422 25 62 501 
T: +31-492 74 75 60 



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