Two months after starting as managing director, André van Kruijssen talks about his plans. To sum up, he wants Plantion to grow considerably through excellent service, innovations and personal attention. Will Plantion be humming under his leadership in the years to come?
The reunion with buyers, growers and employees in January was warm. A bit Brazilian even, but, because of Covid and our down-to-earth nature, without the usual hugs! “Actually, I don’t want to talk about Holambra anymore: it’s now about Plantion,” André says, “although I have become a bit Brazilian. I’m also eight years older and wiser. I used to want to do things on my own; now I enjoy working together and delegating.”
He may, however, be able to put his experiences with Holambra to good use for Plantion. For, as André points out, the marketplaces in the respective countries have a similar profile: “We both want satisfied customers. And we both combine online services, personal mediation and a well-run physical clock for this.” But there is also an important difference: Holambra is the only auction in Brazil. André: “The members practically live on the auction premises and everyone is extremely committed by nature. There’s not a hint of “us and them” and the cooperative spirit passes on from parent to child. This is what makes Holambra such a dynamic company – it’s humming!
How different the situation in the Netherlands is:
“Here the auctions struggle with fragmentation and commitment. Production and marketplace are poles apart and there are several marketplaces and organisations. This means we have to work harder to make life easier for members and customers and tie them to us. We have to demonstrate the added value of Plantion on a daily basis.” He notes that a good foundation has been laid for this under the leadership of Peter Bakker. “Plantion has a beautiful and complete building with the auction room as its beating heart. There’s a mix of experienced staff and young talent. And we have also invested in digitisation. We want to make this basis even more solid and supplement it with a number of innovations.”
Innovations make you curious! André shares his as yet broad ideas. “I am curious to see whether we can really turn the stands into that inspiring place where buyers like to come. We already have a good assortment, with nice niche products. But can we also create a bit of a theatricality, with sharp images on LED screens instead of the current beamers? I certainly think Plantion can stand out from the rest in this respect.” He has no intention, however, of neglecting the important role of the Internet. André: “On the contrary! Our digital services and online marketing must also excel. Can we, for example, gear Auction Presales and Plantion Digital Marketplace even more towards the needs of our customers? Shouldn’t we separate the logistics of digital purchases from Auction distribution? In the end, the balance must be right: customers who can buy and take delivery of products online 24/7 with Plantion, combined with a physical auction where the coffee is waiting for you and you can meet up with your colleagues!”
To make Plantion dynamic and innovative, he wants to involve suppliers and buyers more in initiatives. “Innovations will only work if they are embraced. For example, at the moment I would like to know how customers experience the new delivery service. If they provide their input, and we make use of it, it will become a joint initiative and there will be more understanding if something goes wrong.” He also seeks an active role for employees: “I want to know what their concerns are and what ideas they have. We have good people, so why wait until the board, management or the MT comes up with something? If we do it together, becoming twice as big as a marketplace is a realistic goal.” And according to André, cooperation is not only necessary within Plantion, but throughout the sector. “Royal FloraHolland, VBW, BBH, the wholesale centre, Plantion – we are all dealing with the same group of florists. Together, we can provide a better service for this group than on our own. For example, our guest members should be able to click to Plantion in Floriday without any hassle for their information exchange. Or take consumer marketing, for example, you really have to do this together. We want to make a strong case for this and, as Plantion, we can set an example.”