In our series looking at the companies behind everyday scenes, we visit one of the world’s biggest flower auctions. Blooms were first auctioned at a café in Aalsmeer back in 1911. Today the Bloemenveiling Aalsmeer auctions 20 million cut flowers every day, from a site the size of 200 football pitches. In 2006 turnover was €1.75bn.
Jaap Stelder is CEO of OZ Import, one of 23 companies that make up the Dutch Flower Group, the world’s largest flower importer and exporter – including orange African Leucospermum or Pincushion. OZ employs 40 people and holds a King Quality badge for the environmentally friendly standards it maintains.
Breezand on the Dutch Waddenzee coast is the only place in the world where the distinctive purple Leucocoryne Andes, pictured here, are grown. Five farms grow them, one of which is the Kesteloo Bloembollen farm. The 50-year-old family business is run by two brothers, Karel and Marius, and their 25 employees.
The Dutch family business Kapiteyn, established in 1926, developed the dark purple Zantedeschia (Arum lily) in 1992. Every year 35 million Zantedeschias are sold at Aalsmeer, generating €16m. Kapiteyn’s novelty, Captain Murano, won the best small flowering Zantedeschia prize at this summer’s Zantedeschia Parade in Lisse.
The brothers Freek and Martin Van der Gugten are the fourth generation to run the packaging company Van der Gugten in Rijnsburg, 20km from Aalsmeer. They employ 20 people who manufacture packaging products such as the plastic flower sleeves in our picture. Sleeves come with customised prints, rubber bands and flower feed.
Johan Hilarides heads the Aalsmeer-based Hilverda De Boer, one of Holland’s five largest flower exporters, with branches in Japan and the US, 270 employees and an annual turnover of €100m. Germany, France and Scandinavia are Hilverda De Boer’s most important markets. OZ Export is Hilverda De Boer’s largest competitor.
Alcomij, a sister company of Dutch Hordijk Holding, manufactures trolleys, like the ones in the picture, and aluminium and steel components for greenhouses. Holland is the company’s biggest market but exports to Germany and Poland are also large. Theo Sanders is managing director and employs 75 people.
Sivepo was started in 1984 by Dutch flower auctions to standardise their flower containers. This was done so that containers would fit uniformly on trolleys and ensure that flowers could be moved from grower to seller as quickly as possible. The company has an annual circulation of 17 million containers and employs only five members of staff.
Motrac Linde mainly sells forklifts but also makes specialist tractors, including the small tug tractor seen here that is manufactured just for transporting flowers. Joost Buck has been CEO of Motrac Linde in the Netherlands for 18 months. The firm employs 300 people and has an annual turnover of €100m.