Royal Lemkes has won the 2018 Horticulture Entrepreneurs Prize. The trade firm will be entitled to call itself the ambassador of the horticulture industry for the next year to come. Royal Lemkes was awarded the prestigious prize for its daring, perseverance and sustainable approach at the sector’s well-attended New Year’s gathering in Keukenhof on 10 January.

Runners-up to Royal Lemkes’ first place were potted plant nursery OK Plant and De Lepelaar, a grower of bio-dynamic products. “Sustainable entrepreneurship is becoming more and more nuanced these days: this was clearly apparent when assessing this year’s candidates. The various enterprises are completely different in nature, but what they share is a common desire to leave behind the smallest possible ecological footprint. Each does this in its own way”, explains Nico Koomen, who presented the award for the last time. He will be succeeded as chairman by Michiel van Ginkel.

CO2 footprint

The Horticulture Entrepreneurs Prize describes Royal Lemkes as a trendsetting supplier of plants and related services to the European large-scale retail industry. ‘The people at Royal Lemkes conduct their business operations and communicate with a green heart. They believe that plants contribute to a better lifestyle, dynamic business operations and a healthy, green world. Sustainability is part of this 135-year-old family-owned company’s genetic makeup. The company started storing heat underground as far back as the 1980s, and in 2011 the largest solar panel roof in the Netherlands was installed on its roof. LED lighting and heat pumps were also taken into use soon to reduce the company’s COfootprint by half. Any green power produced in excess is stored in a large battery container, allowing the staff to tap their electricity from the Lemkes roof for use at home. The “Supply Logistics” project in which the company participates pools the shipment of plants to distribution centres, thus reducing the number of transport movements needed. Last option, Royal Lemkes was named “best employer 2017-2018” for its commitment to its employees. Rather than achieving a maximum profit, the goal of making a difference with regard to “Planet” and “People” is the driving force behind Royal Lemkes. Each day can be better, according to the LEAN principle.’

Sustainable relations

The jury: ‘The entrepreneurs take the initiative and demonstrate their responsibility for many projects that enhance the sustainability of the company and the chain. Royal Lemkes stimulates the clustering of group shipments per region, thus reducing the number of transport movements and endeavours to build long-term relations with its suppliers and customers. Additionally, the company limits its own ecological footprint and supplies its employees with solar energy generated by the company. It has a unique HR policy in which the basic principle is that the employees and their working environment are given priority. It is from this position that the company and its employees will be able to serve its customers even better. Royal Lemkes has a well-structured management team, in which every member represents a different field expertise. The company has a strong corporate identity and is therefore a good example for the entire sector.’