Marco van Zijverden (DFG) wins Entrepreneur of the Year award13 September 2016
Marco van Zijverden, CEO of the Dutch Flower Group (DFG), won the National Entrepreneur of the Year award for 2016 for his unique entrepreneurship and innovative ability. The CEO of the family business DFG manages 30 trading companies specialised in fresh cut flowers, bouquets, plants and ornamental foliage. “Marco is the ultimate entrepreneur, full of talent and ambition,” affirms Lucas Vos, CEO of Royal FloraHolland.
And blood will tell, as is the case with Marco and his link to the horticultural sector. His father advised him early on not to go into the flower trade but to 'get a real job'. Now, years later, he is at the head of an international trading company with an annual revenue of €1.4 billion earned by marketing flowers and plants.
The flower trade after all
"My grandfather grew roses. My father didn't like working in a nursery, so he decided on marketing flowers. He started in 1956 with one buyer in Germany and ultimately formed the OZ Group. "It was never my intention to work with flowers. My father always said, Go train for a real career: lawyer or surgeon. I was eligible to study, and attended Nyenrode Business University to learn business administration. It is fate or serendipity, but I did ultimately end up in the flower trade after all. It's a great product, and I enjoy keeping in touch with growers. I have covered every aspect in my career, including buying at auction and packaging flowers."
Marco graduated in the period when the American dollar was drifting downwards (1986). OZ Export was dependent on America, and exports decreased. "Then my father asked me to prepare a plan to make the company financially viable again, and implement it. In 1993 Jaco (Marco's brother) and I took over OZ Export, and in 1999 we merged with Art and Jaap van Duijn (Van Duijn Group) to form the Dutch Flower Group."
What is Marco's ambition? "We want to be and remain the greatest company in the international horticultural sector. A company that people want to work for and where they can develop themselves." Marco's personal motive is his wish to empower his employees. "I am a person who likes to encourage others to do well. After all, I can't do it on my own. If our employees are really good workers, then I want to empower them. Our company has grown great thanks to people living this philosophy. Attracting the right people is based about 90% on intuition. No matter how great a CV looks, there has to be a click."
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