Staying positive and keeping the sector going. That's what Ton van Mil with Royal Brinkman wants to do together with his company and the whole sector. Ton said how much he appreciates that everyone does the best they can in a video message, in which he also talks about the creativity, digital solutions and scarcity of some products, that this time requires. Despite keeping larger stocks and a risk avoiding purchasing policy, some products are starting to get scarce.
The text continues after the video.
Can you point to where 'corona-creativity' is absolutely demanded right now?
Challenges for us at the moment are mostly about currency fluctuations, and logistically speaking about transport of shipping containers. The rates change every day and bookings are moved up a couple of days just like that.
It is essential to have good contact with customers. The world suddenly changed and everyone has to start planning differently. Customers appreciate it that we plan and think ahead with them. Products still arrive on time all around the world. 80% of our employees works from home, which demands internal creativity. The ICT has to be super good.
What are concrete limitations that Royal Brinkman experiences now?
We don't have real limitations yet, luckily. By staying on top of it in the operation, we've been able to prevent delivery problems.
We see differences around the world when looking at the phases of the corona-development: China is starting up again, Europe is right in the middle of it, the United States and the Middle-East have gone in lockdown, and South America is a week behind on that.
Where is your biggest concern, apart from your own company? With growers having a hard time or with suppliers who you work with?
With both of course. It's close to our hearts, how the sector is under pressure and how everyone works very hard to survive. The game of buying and selling is even closer: the game between all our suppliers and our customers around the world. We are a spider in that web.
Do you have solutions to help growers/suppliers (temporarily) through the crisis, for instance by delay of payment?
Together we search for the best solutions, but unfortunately we can't take the part of the bank, that would make our own position way too vulnerable. We are going to get hit by this crisis too.
Does it help that you've been working on digitalising and e-commerce in recent years?
The sales/orders via our webshops around the world have increased quite a bit. The good digital online sales environment of Royal Brinkman really helps us in this time. The webshop has proven to be a stable, unmissable, digital basis for the order process of horticultural products.
Next to that we're offering digital tools for our 'human language' by specialists and account managers. By request and with permission of the customer, specialists and repairmen are of course still available for when a visit to a nursery is necessary, with respect for the RIVM regulations of course.
What can you, in this time, offer regarding knowledge?
At our webshop, at 'de digitale specialist', you can see how growers request a video call with their regular contact. The specialist shares a personal link and is there for the customer, at a distance.
We also see that in the knowledge bank of our webshop, the articles are viewed more often. More than 1,000 products are online with information about horticulture specific products, as well as how-to videos.
Next to that our hygiene specialists are consulted often about preventing the spread of plant and human viruses.
Next to knowledge, you supply many goods. How do you handle this in the corona-situation?
We have a risk avoiding purchasing policy in which articles are bought from multiple producers. In this time of uncertainty we try to have larger stocks.
At the moment we have plenty stock and/or alternative products, but we are starting to notice scarcity in some product categories. We always have a close contact with our suppliers around the world, and can still offer growers alternatives.
Essential departments, among which logistics, have been shielded and work in shifts to be able to guarantee delivery reliability. Our whole organisation is working to be able to provide customers with maximum delivery.