Interview with John Celie, CEO of Celieplant and Bouquetnet
“We should have taken this step much sooner.”
“1 October marks a year at our new address at Japanlaan in Green Park Aalsmeer. Our volume has increased significantly at our new business location. And the reason? Efficient and sustainable business processes are key to our business, which is supplying cut flowers and plants to retailers inside and especially outside the Netherlands. Our new building has lower energy, service and management costs, our logistics system is now more efficient, and the business process is set up to be completely sustainable,” explains Celie in an open discussion.
“We deliver millions of bouquets to our retailers every year, so a business which is efficiently organised makes all the difference.”
What made you relocate?
“Our lease expired in 2014 so we were looking at various options. Extend the lease at the old site, construct a new building either there or next to the auction hall, or move to another location, such as Venlo. We looked at our options very carefully. In addition to the FloraHolland flower auction, Amsterdam Airport Schiphol is another important logistics hub in the flower business. The days that all our cut flowers were grown in the Netherlands are long gone. Now they are also flown in from distant countries (Africa and South America). Even so, we didn’t want to be far away from the ‘Silicon Valley for flowers’ (the auction hall), because packaging, species improvement, transportation, handling and marketing expertise are all widely available there. We also felt it was important that our new premises had a high-profile location near the A1 motorway, with 24/7 loading and unloading facilities. Green Park Aalsmeer and the current location perfectly met our needs.”
That seems quite a challenge, a ‘new building’.
“We spent some time looking around, checking out how the big boys of logistics had set things up. We also engaged some help from a property consultant who had previously helped people with creating new business premises. Together with him and our logistics manager, we analysed the pros and cons of the various locations and wrote a business case exploring the possibilities and innovations of new construction. A concrete building was the most suitable for our plans to build an energy-neutral and above all sustainable premises. After the presentation of a well-detailed plan, the Rabobank agreed with our proposals – something very important at a time of strict loan requirements. Another important consideration was that the Celieplant and Bouquetnet companies can really develop their own identity here.”
“Carriage in; carriage out. We had to consider everything.”
Is it easier to innovate at a new location?
“All the innovations that we implemented in our new building contribute to better operating results. That is why the concrete building has thick walls and a solid concrete roof, keeping it cool in summer and warm in winter (just like Kuehne + Nagel at Schiphol Logistics Park). This is an ideal environment for cut flowers, and means we don’t have to buy a heating boiler and connect gas. The heating of the building is recuperated from the waste heat of our cooling. We reuse wastewater from our flowers and rainwater to fill our flower containers. We also use to it flush the toilets and wash our hands. We have seven separate waste streams, five of which are fully recycled. The 10,600 m2 roof is equipped with 2,000 solar panels, which provide for almost all our energy needs, so we really are energy-neutral. Once our fleet is all electric, as is planned for the near future, we will actually have our own filling station. We are fully CO2 neutral, which is increasingly important for all entrepreneurs who want to invest in the future. We therefore expect that many colleagues in the future will have to follow what we’ve done.”
“Real sustainability pays off in everything you do. Today, but even more so in the future.”