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How a father and son run an innovative nursery, combining old-fashioned skills with modern technologies 

Meet Maarten and Merijn, the father and son running Kwekerij Maarten Bloemen. With a last name like this (‘flowers’ in Dutch), propagating a range of patented flowering plants, is a very aptly chosen profession. But that’s not the only thing that’s special about this nursery in which two generations are working, side by side.

When Maarten Bloemen first started his own nursery in 1987, he could not have foreseen that, some 30 years later, he would be running the company together with his son Merijn. “My wife and I started our own nursery with the support of my father and father-in-law, and it’s really great to be running it today with my son!”, Maarten tells us. Merijn says he never thought he would end up working in his father’s company, let alone help run it. “I was making a career in quad cross for myself and thought my future would be in that business. But unfortunately, it’s difficult to earn enough money in this sport to make ends meet. It was really a 180 degree turn for me to become involved in the propagation of patented plants, in my father’s nursery.”

Kwekerij Maarten Bloemen is a ‘next generation’ nursery in more than one way. Two generations are in charge, and they are creating a future-proof company. Maarten talks about how the nursery developed over the years: “From day one, we always grew the acid-loving plants that we still grow today, pieris, azalea, vaccinium and so on. At that time, we grew a really wide range of plants. We didn’t have any customers yet, we still needed to find them. So we grew end products that were ready for planting in the garden straight away, as this was a big help for landscapers too.” This proved a smart approach, as the customers started flowing in. 

Maarten continues: “From 2000, some twenty years on, we were fully-specialized in propagation materials. You could call it ‘semi-manufactured goods’ for plant nurseries. Moreover, almost everything we grow these days, is made to order. Customers will indicate in advance what plants they will be needing, when we are still making cuttings. So we know beforehand exactly what to grow and how much we will sell. By now, we have become a permanent supplier of Europe’s top nurseries.”

Another thing Maarten started doing from 2000 on, is growing exclusive plants. New, patented products. Maarten: “Others thought I was a bit mad, but I always believed this would turn out well. And it did. At that time, it was something new, but it proved not to be a passing fancy.” By now, Kwekerij Maarten Bloemen’s total production involves about 70% of patented material. Merijn explains why this is so important to them: “It makes us unique! We have several patented products for which we have exclusive propagation rights for entire Europe. That’s quite a trump card. And it’s also a passion we share.” Needless to say, father and son are very proud to have developed 3 patented varieties of their own: Vaccinium vitis idaea ‘Miss Cherry’, Vaccinium vitis idaea ‘Fireballs’ and Pieris japonica ‘Polar passion’.

It needs to be

Future-Proof

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Next generation nursery

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2020121610_-_kwekerij_maarten_bloemen.jpg

Old & New

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Even though the nursery has changed a lot over the years, there are also things that have remained the same from day one. Taking good care of staff, for instance. Providing them with a good place to work, means creating ergonomically responsible circumstances, managing the temperature properly and looking after the people. Merijn: “We want to ensure that our staff really enjoys the work. It can be rather repetitive work, but if you have to do it in the cold and without music… well, nobody enjoys that. So we try to make it all as pleasant as possible. Air-conditioning in the summer, heating in the winter. Heated cabin forklifts, working at table-height.” His father adds “We used to wear wellies and raincoats. We wore hats and gloves. We don’t need that anymore! We bring all the products inside and do all the packaging and so on in a comfortable climate, with music playing.” Judging by employee loyalty, this approach is paying off. Maarten: “They all work here for a long time. Our longest serving member of staff has just celebrated their 25th work anniversary!”

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What does the future hold for Kwekerij Maarten Bloemen? Maarten: “The problem we have right now, is that we are expanding, but we still want to make sure that we do everything really well. If we were to expand according to market demand, we’d need to do that too quickly. We want to make sure we don’t expand too fast.” Merijn agrees “Quality must always come first. But there is still enough space to grow and we do have plans. We actually want to build an extra greenhouse within two years.” His father looks even further into the future: “I’m 56, still too young to quit, and full of energy. If everything keeps going well, we can keep on doing this for years and I’d really like that. We’ve built up everything to make sure the next generation can continue to be successful, to keep making improvements, and expand. That gives me so much energy! It’s something I can hardly get enough of. I hope I’ll be able to keep on doing this for a long time still.”

Some things
never change

How did Kwekerij Maarten Bloemen get this far? The ‘good old’ green talents of father, combined with the technological skills of the son, lead to a high level of innovation and a contemporary way of doing business. Maarten explains why this combination works so well: “These days, everything happens digitally and that’s really something Merijn is great at. So he takes care of almost all the sales. I’m the man with the green fingers and hands, to grow the plants with the staff we’ve got working here. Merijn does all the admin, sales, and marketing and that’s given us a huge boost in recent years.” This has also led to the expansion of their market. The nursery always sold mostly to neighbouring countries (Belgium, UK, Ireland and Germany), but recently even sent small consignments to the USA, Canada, Australia, and Korea! As well as serving customers in Poland, Czechia, Hungary, Switzerland, Spain, Portugal, and Italy. “Our patented products and novelties attract customers from all over the world”, Merijn admits.

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Bottomline? Everything that’s done at Kwekerij Maarten Bloemen must pass their litmus test: “Is it future-proof?”

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“By now, Kwekerij Maarten Bloemen’s total production involves about 70% of patented material. ”

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header

It needs to be

Future-Proof

How a father and son run an innovative nursery, combining old-fashioned skills with modern technologies 

2020121618_-_kwekerij_maarten_bloemen.png

Meet Maarten and Merijn, the father and son running Kwekerij Maarten Bloemen. With a last name like this (‘flowers’ in Dutch), propagating a range of patented flowering plants, is a very aptly chosen profession. But that’s not the only thing that’s special about this nursery in which two generations are working, side by side.

When Maarten Bloemen first started his own nursery in 1987, he could not have foreseen that, some 30 years later, he would be running the company together with his son Merijn. “My wife and I started our own nursery with the support of my father and father-in-law, and it’s really great to be running it today with my son!”, Maarten tells us. Merijn says he never thought he would end up working in his father’s company, let alone help run it. “I was making a career in quad cross for myself and thought my future would be in that business. But unfortunately, it’s difficult to earn enough money in this sport to make ends meet. It was really a 180 degree turn for me to become involved in the propagation of patented plants, in my father’s nursery.”

Next generation nursery

Kwekerij Maarten Bloemen is a ‘next generation’ nursery in more than one way. Two generations are in charge, and they are creating a future-proof company. Maarten talks about how the nursery developed over the years: “From day one, we always grew the acid-loving plants that we still grow today, pieris, azalea, vaccinium and so on. At that time, we grew a really wide range of plants. We didn’t have any customers yet, we still needed to find them. So we grew end products that were ready for planting in the garden straight away, as this was a big help for landscapers too.” This proved a smart approach, as the customers started flowing in. 

Maarten continues: “From 2000, some twenty years on, we were fully-specialized in propagation materials. You could call it ‘semi-manufactured goods’ for plant nurseries. Moreover, almost everything we grow these days, is made to order. Customers will indicate in advance what plants they will be needing, when we are still making cuttings. So we know beforehand exactly what to grow and how much we will sell. By now, we have become a permanent supplier of Europe’s top nurseries.”

Another thing Maarten started doing from 2000 on, is growing exclusive plants. New, patented products. Maarten: “Others thought I was a bit mad, but I always believed this would turn out well. And it did. At that time, it was something new, but it proved not to be a passing fancy.” By now, Kwekerij Maarten Bloemen’s total production involves about 70% of patented material. Merijn explains why this is so important to them: “It makes us unique! We have several patented products for which we have exclusive propagation rights for entire Europe. That’s quite a trump card. And it’s also a passion we share.” Needless to say, father and son are very proud to have developed 3 patented varieties of their own: Vaccinium vitis idaea ‘Miss Cherry’, Vaccinium vitis idaea ‘Fireballs’ and Pieris japonica ‘Polar passion’.

2020121634_-_kwekerij_maarten_bloemen.jpg
".jpg (copy)

“By now, Kwekerij Maarten Bloemen’s total production involves about 70% of patented material. ”

What does the future hold for Kwekerij Maarten Bloemen? Maarten: “The problem we have right now, is that we are expanding, but we still want to make sure that we do everything really well. If we were to expand according to market demand, we’d need to do that too quickly. We want to make sure we don’t expand too fast.” Merijn agrees “Quality must always come first. But there is still enough space to grow and we do have plans. We actually want to build an extra greenhouse within two years.” His father looks even further into the future: “I’m 56, still too young to quit, and full of energy. If everything keeps going well, we can keep on doing this for years and I’d really like that. We’ve built up everything to make sure the next generation can continue to be successful, to keep making improvements, and expand. That gives me so much energy! It’s something I can hardly get enough of. I hope I’ll be able to keep on doing this for a long time still.”

".jpg (copy2)
Bottomline? Everything that’s done at Kwekerij Maarten Bloemen must pass their litmus test: “is it future-proof?”
2020121610_-_kwekerij_maarten_bloemen.jpg

Old & New

Even though the nursery has changed a lot over the years, there are also things that have remained the same from day one. Taking good care of staff, for instance. Providing them with a good place to work, means creating ergonomically responsible circumstances, managing the temperature properly and looking after the people. Merijn: “We want to ensure that our staff really enjoys the work. It can be rather repetitive work, but if you have to do it in the cold and without music… well, nobody enjoys that. So we try to make it all as pleasant as possible. Air-conditioning in the summer, heating in the winter. Heated cabin forklifts, working at table-height.” His father adds “We used to wear wellies and raincoats. We wore hats and gloves. We don’t need that anymore! We bring all the products inside and do all the packaging and so on in a comfortable climate, with music playing.” Judging by employee loyalty, this approach is paying off. Maarten: “They all work here for a long time. Our longest serving member of staff has just celebrated their 25th work anniversary!”

Some things never change

Even though the nursery has changed a lot over the years, there are also things that have remained the same from day one. Taking good care of staff, for instance. Providing them with a good place to work, means creating ergonomically responsible circumstances, managing the temperature properly and looking after the people. Merijn: “We want to ensure that our staff really enjoys the work. It can be rather repetitive work, but if you have to do it in the cold and without music… well, nobody enjoys that. So we try to make it all as pleasant as possible. Air-conditioning in the summer, heating in the winter. Heated cabin forklifts, working at table-height.” His father adds “We used to wear wellies and raincoats. We wore hats and gloves. We don’t need that anymore! We bring all the products inside and do all the packaging and so on in a comfortable climate, with music playing.” Judging by employee loyalty, this approach is paying off. Maarten: “They all work here for a long time. Our longest serving member of staff has just celebrated their 25th work anniversary!”

group_2.png
naar_boven.jpg (copy)