Thomas Plukaard: “We need each other”
Phalaenopsis. That is Thomas Plukaard's favourite flower. He is a team manager at IBH Export, one of the largest exporters of cut flowers and outdoor plants and houseplants in the Netherlands. Every day, the company exports much more than just Phalaenopsis. The online trade platform FloraMondo helps out.
Eight years ago, Thomas entered the horticultural sector by chance. For 1.5 years he has been a team manager at IBH Export. He likes it there. He feels it's very special to work with living products. "You are very conscious of the seasons. Every day is different. Part of the reason is that I am busy with many different things. I keep the stock and sales figures updated, manage a team of five people, and regularly visit foreign customers. For example, last November I spent a week in Russia. Together with the customers, I discuss what is going well and what needs improvement. We can optimise the presentation in the displays and improve the transport, for example. Transport is and remains a challenge in the horticultural sector. Products must arrive in perfect condition. Many factors can influence this, like the temperature, air humidity and speed. We must not cut corners here. Rather we must continuously search for ways to improve."
Collaboration with Royal FloraHolland
At IBH Export continuous improvement is a key focus of the company. That is one reason why the company participated in a pilot for the online trade platform FloraMondo over the past few months. Thomas added, "On the one hand, exporters like us need growers to supply product and keep their agreements. On the other, more and more of our customers want to choose from a broader assortment. FloraMondo is very handy for this. In the past few months, we tried out a new functionality in the online trade platform, called customer-accounts. That was marvellous. With customer-accounts our customers can see the clock supply and purchase online directly via Clock Presale or Direct sales. That saves me a huge amount of time. In addition, we set a limit together with the customer. This prevents them from buying non-stop, and they retain an overview. What are my suggestions for improvement? Honestly, Royal FloraHolland carried out all our wishes right after the pilot. And now it is naturally time for the next step. Floriday must become a success!"
The margins in the horticultural sector are coming under increasing pressure. That is why Thomas finds cooperation more important than ever. "We must not focus on our own benefit. We need each other. By collaborating, we can meet the customers' wishes. I believe that the independent, digital platform Floriday will help us with this. But we'd better hurry because otherwise the new players will catch up. That would be a shame, because we have so much knowledge and expertise in house to make Floriday a success. Let's use it!"