For Horticoop Technical Services, hiring 15 people with experience in irrigation and electrical engineering last summer was a great opportunity. "Even before those people became available at Codema, the company was already looking to grow," says managing director Tom Zwijsen.
"A year and a half ago, we also held talks with several companies, which led to many contacts and interests. When the opportunity arose to bring a lot of knowledge in-house in particular, we took this step anyway. It is important to retain technical knowledge for greenhouse horticulture. We managed to secure important knowledge."
Tom (squatting) last summer at the announcement of the Venlo news
Besides new people, Horticoop Technical Services also had the opportunity to set up a location in Venlo. "We signed a lease for the premises that used to belong to Codema," says Tom. With a new location in Venlo, Horticoop Technical Services has growth opportunities in that region. Those opportunities are now being fully utilized. "We started quietly in Venlo with seven fitters, but now there are already ten. And this summer, the number is expected to grow to 15," says the director.
The latter, the job title director, is also new to the observant reader. This is because Horticoop Technical Services has been an independent limited company with Tom at the helm since 1 January 2023. The Horticoop, now converted into an investment cooperative, is the sole shareholder. Not much changes with this latest move as far as Tom is concerned. He has been the manager of Horticoop Technical Services since 2016. "At the time of the sale of Horticoop's wholesale activities, we asked ourselves the question at the time: What exactly do we want? It was then decided to raise our profile with all the technical knowledge we have in projects and services, and maintenance. We want to continue to expand that in order to continue serving our customers well."
The new colleagues from the former Codema have been integrated into the organization at Horticoop Technical Services. Largely in Venlo, but former Codema employees from Bergschenhoek have also been integrated in Bleiswijk, four for now, and more will follow. "With their choice to come and work with us, we can better help former Codema customers," he says.
In Klazienaveen, the engineering company also has a branch from which they approach Germany. "There, too, we are working hard to expand to guarantee security there for our regular and new customers." With that, Horticoop Technical Services operates in the countries surrounding the Netherlands. "That's where our focus was and remains. However, from Venlo, we now have better opportunities to also carry out projects and service and maintenance in southern Germany, Switzerland, and Austria, also known as the DACH countries."
The technology company was already active in the German-speaking areas, as well as in the Venlo region. "Ben Hoogendoorn has already built up a large network here over the years. He is Sales Manager and in that role is also responsible for projects." Recently, Horticoop Technical Services has also been receiving requests from the UK. "Here, growers work with units from Codema. Some of our new employees already know those systems well from their past. From the service and maintenance department, we are going to follow up on these requests."
It is common knowledge that after the news around Codema, there was turmoil in the market for a while. How was all the ongoing work to be dealt with? "By now, the customers and projects have been transferred to Horticoop Technical Services, but also to our competitor colleagues." According to Tom, working together is and remains the key to success. "Based on availability, we look after customers," he indicates. "We opened the phone lines but did not it shout from the rooftops that we had also gained a location in Venlo. We were already in full swing. In Germany, in particular, there is a lot of work to do, in the positive sense of the word."
Tom, who was in Venlo a lot in the first months to set up the team, is happy with how things are going. "We are happy with the new colleagues and with the location. From Venlo, we have now expanded the company to include inside sales, a warehouse manager, a project manager, a calculator, a service coordinator, and administrative support. An account manager will also follow in March."
The new account manager, who will introduce himself soon, will visit customers and also look at where new projects are possible, among other things. "Originally, we are strong in greenhouse vegetables," says Tom. "That is not putting us at a disadvantage now. Greenhouse vegetable growers who have their energy management right are doing well. All sorts of things are happening around Venlo, with opportunities and applications aplenty. In the west of the Netherlands, at least in terms of new construction, things are quieter."
In terms of technology, they see plenty of room for improvement at the company, which offers a broad pallet of technology from lighting and electrical engineering to water and climate. "For example, with a good energy manager in a climate computer, growers can quickly recoup the investment. We also see a lot of potential in water technology and water treatment. Water storage is also becoming increasingly important. In that, we do see expansions."
In any case, according to Tom, even when things seem a bit more difficult in Dutch horticulture, there are always plenty of projects. "It doesn't always have to be big," he says. In Germany, they do currently see such projects around the big cities, but meanwhile, there are still many smaller projects going on. "If you have enough such improvement projects, things will work out. We value our regular customer base very much. Conversely, we find that our customers appreciate the fact that we are also strong in service, maintenance, and inspections."
Horticoop Technical Services can also be found at trade fairs. In Essen at the IPM in hall 3, stand E27, in Berlin at Fruit Logistica in hall 3.2, stand A45, and in Gorinchem at HortiContact in stand G128. "I would love to meet you here together with my colleague Ben Hoogendoorn and discuss what we can do for you," Tom concludes.
For more information:
Horticoop Technical Services
2665 LP Bleiswijk
Tel.: +31 10 5241600
Faults: +31 88 2244777
7891 WS Klazienaveen
Tel.: +31 59 1668940
Faults: +31 59 1668948
5928 RZ Venlo
Tel.: +31 77 3999266
Faults: +31 10 5241501