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Holland: Looking back at 95 years of propagation at Van der Lugt

In 1920, the Dutch growers Piet en Gerrit van der Lugt decided to switch from growing vegetables to propagation; Plantenkwekerij van der Lugt was a fact. Now, 95 years and four generations later, director Bert van der Lugt explains about the changes in the European sector and within the company.
At the beginning of the 20th century, brothers Piet and Gerrit van der Lugt were growing vegetables in the Netherlands. Like most growers in that time, they switched from open field to greenhouse production. Unlike most growers, they decided to make another move: they started propagating vegetable plants.

Nowadays, their great-grandson Bert van der Lugt is head of the company. His career at the nursery started in the early 90 ‘s. "In those days, you started at the bottom," he remembers. "That's how you got to know the company: by being a part of it." According to Bert, it's a completely different situation for the new growers these days. "The next generation started with the business administration program." This change is partly inspired through the development of the nursery over the past decades. In 2005 the company moved to a new, advanced propagation nursery of 12,8 hectares in Bleiswijk. "The company has grown and been professionalized. By that, the risks grew too." These growing risks are well-known for all companies in the Dutch horticulture. "The companies grew bigger, but the margins for growers and suppliers are smaller. It changed the relationships in the industry. They are way more business-like these days."

The management team consists of Ewald de Koning, Huub Hermus, Hans van der Meijden, Michel van de Pavert, Dino Immerzeel and Bert van der Lugt

The developments are reflected within the company. After the move to Bleiswijk, the company became familiar with stockholders, a direction and a management team. In the management team of six, there's only one member of the Van der Lugt family: Bert. Nevertheless, the family is a main part of the company. "It's not just the name. You can't disconnect the nursery from the family. It's more than a name: the stockholders are family. The company breaths are our history and our norms and values."
Back in time with de Gebr. vd Lugt

The first customers of the nursery were local growers. "Over the years this expanded; now we work internationally. 20 years ago we started with France and Germany. Now we go on until Switzerland, Spain and South-Italy. We have to work with tight planning, but it is convenient for the utilisation of our acreage." The international trade also asks for a new way of doing business. "Business is business, but you see that different markets ask for different types of contact. In the south of Europe it's way more emotional, while in Germany virtue is key. You have to adjust to that." The company is also looking intercontinental for opportunities. There are intensive contacts and cooperations with New-Zealand, Canada, India, America and Australia. "We are convinced of other opportunities out there."

Plantenkwekerij Van der Lugt has an intensive strategic cooperation with another Dutch nursery, WPK from the south of the Netherlands. "We reinforce each other. By working together we are able to combine our expertise and knowledge. Thanks to the cooperation the greenhouses can also be used more intensely. Expansion is therefore not required yet; thanks to our cooperation with WPK we can spread more. We are more flexible in our planning, have room for major customers or more diversity in plant types. This works very well. Both WPK like Van der Lugt have a strong company culture and their own identity. Both are strong brands which we want to keep."

The nursery nowadays

Different sector
"The 95th anniversary is important for the company - no doubt about that. But it is also a next step on our way towards 100. The days are gone when we could sit back and wait until things were back on an even keel, the sector is changing faster than ever. The need to produce a healthy product has always been there, however we are seeing that the strict protocols for growing tomatoes also gain importance in growing cucumber."

Over the next few years Van der Lugt is monitoring high wire cultivation and artificial lighting. "These are the determining factors in greenhouse horticulture in the near future. We hope in this way to develop a stronger profile. This will influence not only our activities but also our occupancy rate. The peaks will be different and larger."

For more information:
Plantenkwekerij van der Lugt
Irisweg 1
2665 MS Bleiswijk
T: +31 (0)10 5033043
F: +31 (0)10 5221149
E: [email protected]