For (European) sport enthusiasts 2016 was a great year: UEFA Euro 2016, the Tour de France and the Olympic Games. From the Dutch perspective there is a striking similarity between the sports world and the greenhouse construction and engineering sector.
Why, for example, are projects being set up overseas where no Dutch companies – just like the European football championship – are involved, even though a number of the Dutch players belong to the world’s top? Or compare the Dutch Olympic team with the numerous links required, wherever it is in the world, to profitably realise a greenhouse. The best companies are selected and every participant is expected to do his or her utmost best to win a gold medal. Some however believe that just flying there is enough to gain a medal.

But just like in sport for every project it’s the end result that counts. Consider Rio, not everything runs smoothly for some participants and so it’s others who actually collect the medals. But does it really matter if in the end the whole team lives up to the expectations?

This is how it should be for horticultural projects. If Dutch companies want to continue playing an important role, then they need to present a joint calling card, for every project, each time again. Let everyone see that we deserve the gold medal. This can ensure that the customer won’t notice if someone falls off the high bar or isn’t quite fast enough in the hundred metres sprint. So long as the end result fulfils the expectations, everyone will be asking: how can such a small country achieve so much.

We like to talk about innovation. I still believe that the best innovation at the moment is for companies in the sector to learn to work together, so that the customer won’t notice if something goes wrong with one of the components. When the project is complete present the joint business card for the customer to save and use when he is ready for the next stage.
With the creation of Holland Horti International the Dutch sector hopes it has taken a step in bringing companies closer together so that they can work better together to achieve great projects. Of course, it’s the people within the companies that need to make this happen.

Frank van Kleef
Tomato grower and member of Harvest House