The big hectic created by COVID-19 in the horticulture industry seems to be over. Things have stabilized, but the situation is far from normal. For many companies that used to visit their international existing and potential clients several times a year in-person, this type of contact has come down to zero. This also goes for German substrate supplier Hawita, who used to be abroad every month. However, the travel restrictions are not withholding them from spreading their wings internationally. "After months of assisting our clients during the hectic times, it is now time to pick up our international growth where we left off and nowadays the way to reach new clients is online." This is explained by Miguel Vázquez Fernández and Eike Søren Ennenbach, both Export Sales Managers at the company. "By our new and simplified website, direct contact lines and samples offerings, we try to come as close to in-person contact as possible."
Their plant in Akniste, Latvia has been producing their 'HAWITA' Baltic substrates since 1996.
Hawita Group is a German family company that is known for its peat moss, but also produces substrates, planter pots and Easypot for both the hobby gardeners as well as to professional horticulturalists. With 100 years of experience, they have grown to a company with more than 400 employees at present, eight production sites and more than 4,500 ha of moor area in Germany and Baltic States - most of their peat used for exports is produced in Latvia. They are operating globally for many years, but over the last 5 years, they see the requests from overseas companies rising. And they are eager to grow even further internationally. "Over the last 5 years, we have seen the demands from countries abroad rising sharply and particularly over the last 3 to 4 years out of China. We have the capacity to grow, so we thought why not?"
The Vechta facility in Germany produces mainly the 'HAWITA' Flor soils and they can proudly say that it has been doing so already since 1926.
However, COVID-19 has made international expansion quite a challenge. "In the midst of the pandemic, the situation was hectic and uncertain for our current clients. Therefore, we did our utmost best to assist them in any way we could resulting in having to push our expansion plans into the background. Fortunately, in the end our business picked up quite quickly; vegetable growers continued production and from our hobby garden side, we saw more orders coming in as more people started gardening while they were at home."
Their professional 'Fruhstorfer Soils' are produced here, just outside the Hessian district town of Lauterbach, Germany. The facility was built in 1920 and is, therefore, able to look back on a long tradition and a great deal of experience .
Dealing with the lack of in-personal contact/events
As the situation more or less stabilized in the last months, Hawita's global expansion plans could be picked up again. However, with the travel restrictions and no exhibitions, gaining new clients has become a more challenging job. "We cannot meet people in person and show them our products physically." Therefore, they decided to do everything in their reach to make it as easy as possible for their potential new clients to see and feel their products. "We designed a completely new and simplified website that enables potential clients to quickly see what we are doing and search for the products they need. When they find a product they would like to order, they can ask for a sample first so that they can experience it live, just like we would do when we would visit them at their location or meet them at the exhibition.
Miguel Vázquez Fernández, Eike Ennenbach, and Maximilian Evers
Furthermore, we are with three people - the two of us are dealing with the export sales around the world and our colleague Maximilian Evers is responsible for the back office- which means short and direct lines. And in the past, we've noticed that these short lines are really appreciated."
At their site in Emstek, Germany, they have been developing and producing the entire plastic product range of the HAWITA Group since the early nineties.
With their new website 'in the air', Hawita is ready to expand their global presence. "For the time being and with the current travel restrictions in place, we hope to assist all new customers in this online way as well with our samples."
They have been producing their ready-to-use fleece pots in Künzelsau, Germany, under the label 'Easypot' as propagation system for ornamental, woody and herbaceous perennial plants since 1995.
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Miguel Vázquez Fernández