“Wisdom comes with age,” they say. Back in 1946, two friends called Ben and Fried started a supply company at the Dijkhoornseweg in the Dutch village of Den Hoorn, which they named Benfried. The initial aim was basically to supply growers in the neighborhood and to work in the greenhouses as contractors. The southern surroundings of the old town of Delft were known for the many growers and farmers that produced food for cities such as Delft, The Hague and Rotterdam nearby. The reconstruction of the country after the war had begun and there was a need for good food for those who rebuilt the country and to feed the many newcomers that were born in the following years. “As back in those days greenhouses were made of wooden structures with narrow sheets of glass and crops planted in the soil, products like glasscutters, tar, paint and tools to work the heavy soils were supplied to the growers,” recalls Mr. Fried Koop Sr., who is in his mid-nineties now.
Greenhouse supplies in the 1950s
The developments of mechanization, improved irrigation and fertigation went fast in the years to follow. Also the technical developments of greenhouses went fast and innovations followed one after the other. This required an ever expanding product range, new equipment and systems for the inventive growers. With this new products the demand for knowhow and to optimize the use of this products became ever more important. “From those early years on the focus has been to invest in people that know about the products and services that are being offered,” says Mr. Petto Koop, together with Mr. Fried Koop, both sons of Mr. Fried Koop Sr., the owners of Benfried. “In order to provide the right service and to sustain the business this has been the core of the Benfried philosophy. With the growing number of products in our portfolio, the number of product specialists also grew substantially. The knowledge needs to be maintained, safeguarded and expanded. This is why the product specialists keep learning and go to classes, meetings or seminars on their specific subject regularly. Objective is to share the knowledge with our customers and partners. In the 1980s the new facilities located at the Hooipolderweg in Den Hoorn were built and are being improved over the years”.
Greenhouse supplies today
Throughout the years strategic decisions had to be made. This is why the contracting and later the installation side of the business was discontinued and sold. “One learns by keeping focus, to listen to the customers and personal contact with growers,” continues Fried Koop (Jr.) “Both domestically and abroad customers want to rely on the quality of the products and service offered. This is why the logistics are such an important part of the operation. It requires constant improvement of the internal systems we work with in order to become more efficient and avoid mistakes. People that work in logistics, but also in the export department keep track on the developments to safeguard an on time delivery of the right products and capable colleagues in administration makes sure it all adds up and is processed correct.”
Another strategic decision has been to work with skilled partners abroad in order to come to optimal service and work local for local. “The pioneering days are long gone in that respect. We have established great strategic partnerships in important growing regions around the world and have a capable staff second to none,” concludes Petto Koop.