“My passion is to make people happy with our product”
The cheerful colours explode from the greenhouse on this summery day in May. At the gerbera nursery of Mike Zuidgeest (25) in Honselersdijk, it's hard work to get ready for the French Mother's Day. “My passion is to make people happy with our product,” laughed the young grower.
Mike has been the director since 2014 and is granted extensive freedom by his father to conduct the business. He manages the personnel and ensures that the logistics runs smoothly. His father André is responsible for the cultivation. They consider this is a successful distribution of the tasks. "We do not get in each other's way. I can cultivate plants, but I prefer to manage instead." André took over the company from his father in the 1980s when they used to grow freesia. In 2000 André decided to switch to growing gerberas because the future of freesia was less rosy. What is Mike's management style? "I enjoy delegating and want people to take on more responsibility."
The Villa Gerbera nursery extends over a total of 3.5 ha. In addition to gerberas, the company took over the cultivation of Curcuma in 2017 from KP Holland because it saw a market opportunity. The nursery also rents one greenhouse to fellow growers who cultivate tomatoes. In the busiest period of the year around Mother's Day, 350,000 stems of gerbera are sold each week. On an average week the quantity is lower, around 250,000 stems per week. Most of the revenue comes from direct trade, with a shrinking percentage coming from the clock.
"Clock is an average"
Mike is a young grower and has a fresh perspective on the world around him. He sees new opportunities in digitalisation. At the same time he still believes in the clock. "We need the clock as a benchmark. The volume of gerbera that is presented at the clock has naturally decreased enormously in the past few years. So it seems that the clock doesn't work as well for gerberas because the demand is less, which means it is no longer the market price. Because more customised offers are being made, more of the trade is going direct." Mike is extremely positive about Royal FloraHolland and the logistic opportunities offered by the platform. The gerberas from this company are mostly sold in Russia, the UK and Germany. Mike adds, "We produce what the market can absorb. We are not intending to increase production until there is a demand for it."