Single-handedly, Guy Van Deuren laid the solid foundation for his nursery in lavender, mandevilla and dianthus. Being at the start of a natural process and seeing the cuttings of his plants grow day after day remains wonderful for him. He therefore lovingly divides his time between Retie, Belgium, and the Portuguese Algarve, passionately talking about his business, his collaboration with Container Centralen and their shared vision of sustainability.
“In 2006, I felt the time was right to translate all the experience I had gained in the flower and plant industry into my own business. Under the name VD Plant, I started a nursery greenhouse in Retie, entirely under my own steam, as well as a nursery in Portugal. Initially small-scale, but in the meantime we have grown along with the market and in total some 15 people work in my company. I very consciously specialised in three types of attractive pot and patio plants, which increases efficiency and ensures that we now have a lot of knowledge about nutrition, disease control, care and propagation.
For me, it remains beautiful every day to see how the cuttings we plant grow into a beautiful addition to our customers’ terraces or gardens.”
We make the most of the sun
“Winters in the Algarve are sunny and mild, ideal for growing our early flowering garden plants. That’s why I chose this location in Portugal very consciously. We can grow everything in natural conditions, without having to use heating or artificial light. Our way of working often puts us ahead of the market and allows us to distinguish ourselves well. To guarantee the quality of our plants, they are grown entirely under our own management, from initial propagation with the smallest cutting to growing them in a larger pot. Our customers are mainly located in the Benelux countries, Germany, France, England and Switzerland. With the Belgian branch, we are very centrally located, allowing us to guarantee short delivery times. To transport CC containers and shelves to our Portuguese site, we use the shipping service of Container Centralen in Hazerswoude. This works extremely pleasant and efficient; we can shorten our requirements a week in advance. As a result, loading takes place optimally so that we can use 100% of capacity. That’s ideal!”
Growing with the wind “The COVID-19 pandemic, unlike previous financial crises, did not benefit us. I have, as mentioned, been in the flower and plant business for a long time, but this turned out to be an unprecedented situation. After the initial shock and the complete stoppage of trucks and hence trade, we were able to get back to business relatively quickly and made 2021 a very successful year. Although the current energy crisis hardly weighs on our business, we obviously do notice the effects of the war and rising inflation, consumers are a bit more cautious in their spending, which does put some pressure on our sales.
On the other hand, we also notice that our plants offer people some lightness and colour in an easy way. The fact that we can contribute to this with VD Plant makes us proud.”
Everyone has to do their bit
“The market, especially the garden centre sector in which most of our customers are located, demands sustainable products and production. And of course, I think this is very important myself. I think everyone should do his or her bit for a better world for the future. By having our production process in Portugal, we use only natural energy sources, which of course already helps enormously with our sustainability goals.
And it also helps us in the current energy crisis, I say honestly, that we can keep heating costs relatively very low is nice.
By working with Container Centralen, we have also made real progress in our sustainability vision. Reusable transport items that you can rent for a long time really contribute to sustainable logistics, we are convinced. Our need for containers grows year on year, so it is very nice to have found a partner in Container Centralen that recognises our sustainable needs and supports us very well with its materials and can keep up with us in our growth.
We can also now double load our trucks, with 60 instead of the previous 30 plates going on a cart. That literally saves us one truck per transport. So less CO2 emissions, which again contributes to a better environment. Just like our use of Pöppelmann pots, which consist of 80% recycled plastic, and the trays we use, which are made of the plastic from old refrigerators. In addition, our potting soil consists partly of composted material and wood chips. So we are always looking for collaborations that strengthen us and our sustainable view of business!