2 July 2021
DeVroomen is a traditional Dutch family business that has been around for almost a hundred years. The company started as a nursery but has since grown into an international sales organisation for flower bulbs. This interview is part of our whitepaper 'Challenging times call for online solutions', download the whitepaper to read more inspiring interviews.
All the sales are done in the United States and Canada, but Joris Philippo and his small team take care of the entire purchasing process from the Netherlands. “We do the calculations, the logistics, we are looking for new programmes and we handle the contacts with the suppliers. Actually, we are a kind of facilitator between everything that happens in North America and where all our products come from."
Hans Philippo, owner of DeVroomen and uncle of Joris, has lived in the United States for years. Joris often used to go there to work in the summers and after college, he spent a long period in the United States helping his uncle. “About eleven years ago, when my uncle was just getting into the bulb business, he wanted someone here he could trust. Basically, I am his eyes and ears here in the Netherlands”, says Joris. Before Covid-19, he went often to the United States, but that, of course, has been put on hold.
By coincidence, DeVroomen ended up with Garden Connect, which is unusual for such an international company. The focus is really on the United States. “My right-hand man here in the Netherlands knew Edwin from football. He said it was a good team with knowledge of the things we need. So far, we have been working very well together.” Still, the office in the USA is critical because they want to arrange as much as possible locally. “They certainly looked at it with scepticism, but Garden Connect is a young and energetic team and they know a lot about the market. That is very important for us.”
Online activities had been on the back burner for a long time at DeVroomen, but Covid-19 has brought them to the fore. “In the past, some fifty years ago, the bulb sellers did their regular rounds and placed their orders everywhere. Nowadays, companies are increasingly looking for their own suppliers. We found out that we really needed to pay more attention to it. Then we asked Garden Connect to deliver content to us. Now they write our category information and product descriptions.
This was step one for DeVroomen, but they want to focus even more on online business in the coming years. “We are now working with Garden Connect to develop a system that allows us to link all the data and product information to the customers and webshops. We want to integrate all these things with each other. As a result, our B2B customers can also easily use our platform with product information. That will be the next step."
Nevertheless, Joris still picks up the printed catalogue that is always on his desk when he is in contact with a customer. "It's old fashioned, but I still find it nice and easy that I can just grab it.”