dealer VanRaes sells 10 systems in 6 months:

"Belgium: "HortiMaX CX500 concept also perfect for replacement market"

Late last year saw the launch of the HortiMaX CX500 - 'the new standard in adaptive greenhouse technology'. This versatile and adaptable process computer can be customised to the individual needs of any grower. Although the concept was originally devised for the export market, VANRAES was able to sell over 10 systems in Belgium within six months of its launch. Geert Debusschere, responsible for horticulture at the company and often addressed as 'Mr VANRAES', shares their success story with us.

The heart of the business
Geert started by telling us about VANRAES: 'We are the foremost horticulture specialist in Belgium. Commercial growers can come to us for all their needs. The process computer is the beating heart of every nursery. It may be small, but it's an essential piece of equipment!' Geert continues: 'Although some growers view their computer as a necessary evil, more and more consider it an everyday tool. Most importantly, the system should be easy to use and suit the grower's needs at the time, while allowing for upgrades in the future. This means no 'bells and whistles' that the customer doesn't want, but has to pay for anyway. The HortiMaX CX500 ticks all these boxes. It's simply a great product!'

Let's do it!

'HortiMaX told us they were looking for a nursery to test the HortiMaX CX500. We had a customer at the time who was interested in an overall solution: a quality product, reliable service and one point of contact for any problems that might arise. They had an old computer from another supplier and weren't happy with their current installer: their trust in them had gone. They were looking for a company with which they could exchange ideas, which would listen to their needs and which offered turnkey solutions. They finally came to us for that complete package.'

'We are a moderate-size company with short lines of communication and expertise that covers both the technical and commercial aspects of the business. We know our stuff and customers appreciate that', says Geert. 'We had talked to customer for hours about the Clima 500 and had practically sold it to them.’ They really liked the Clima 500 GP. Then we told them that a new computer would soon be launched: a new concept, new hardware, new software, new everything. It didn't include lighting control yet, but that wasn't a problem. A control system for five greenhouse blocks (compartments), screening and ventilation would be a great starting point. We had no other reference and neither did HortiMaX. However, the customer was eager to have the latest technology, so we said to each other: Let's do it!' 'The fact that their business would also serve as a model for the new system really appealed to them', says Geert.

Enthusiasm and believing in the product
A process computer and its installation are only a small link in the total process of commercial growing. Dealers set themselves apart by their knowledge and experience, coupled with a strong sense of 'enthusiasm'. Geert says: 'We could talk for hours about what the HortiMaX CX500 can do. Customers are often amazed and ask: 'Can it really do all that?' All our people tell the same enthusiastic story: they spend time in the field, don't mind getting their hands dirty and can talk to growers in their language. That really makes a difference.'

'We also do all we can to get customers excited about the product. We invite potential customers to our office, tell them our story and visit other growers to see the HortiMaX CX500 in action. It's all about enthusiasm and believing in the product. Most customers can't help but be impressed by the system’s capabilities. And if they start asking more questions, you know they're genuinely interested', says Geert.

Expert service is one phone call away...

So how does this new computer benefit growers? Geert says: 'There aren't that many direct benefits to growers. Of course, the system is a revolutionary concept and features the latest technology. Many growers in Belgium use systems that are over 20 years old. When those systems break down, they can no longer be repaired.’ Geert continues by saying: 'If the customer wants to modify the computer in some way, no problem. We're able to do that ourselves, without HortiMaX's help. One phone call is all it takes for us to go round and make the desired changes.' 'A unique benefit of this system is that we, as a dealer, can provide any technical assistance ourselves - at any time of the day. We were unable to offer that guarantee in the past, because we depended on our supplier. Our ability to do so now gives customers a lot of confidence in the product. What's more, we make system modifications for free.’

Fits like a glove

'Great service wouldn't matter without a great product. In other words, a product that fits the customer’s needs like a glove. This where the concept of the HortiMaX CX500 really shines! Working with the grower, we’ll customise the process computer to their specific situation. Customers really like this about the product.' 'The CX500 offers growers virtually all the functionality they could want. It’s all there. However, only those features that the grower actually needs are enabled. Another great benefit is that the computer is easy to upgrade as the grower's business expands. Each time we visit our customers we show them some more features. They usually respond by saying 'put that in as well'. And we can do so without having to worry about inputs and outputs. It's simply a fantastic concept.'

Suitable for both the export and replacement markets

The HortiMaX CX500 was originally designed for the export market on the premise that every environment requires a particular configuration. This means the system needs to be tailored to both the local climate and the individual needs of the grower. 'But that concept also works perfectly for the replacement market, like in Belgium," says Geert. 'A lot of growers here use obsolete systems. When such a system breaks down, it needs to be replaced. The HortiMaX CX500 is the ideal solution. It doesn't matter whether you grow strawberries, tomatoes or bedding plants, or your greenhouse has 3 or 13 blocks. This concept allows us to meet a wide range of needs. And you only pay for what you use. We've already replaced a number of systems with this new computer. Replacing a system is a smooth process: we only replace a small link in the chain, while the other equipment remains operational.'

For more information:
René van der Stam

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