A chat with grower Rence Slootman about quality

Published on 22-11-2023

Rence Slootman is one of our growers. He’s a third-generation grower at a business that has grown gladioli since 1969. Rence has been growing under the banner of Forever Bulbs for a few years now, and we’re very happy about that. We sat down with Rence to hear what his average day is like, what ambitions he has, and how he finds it to work with us.

What kind of business do you run?
We produce bulbs, both gladioli and tulips. I’m in charge of day-to-day operations. My parents still work here too, plus we employ four permanent workers. We have over 30 hectares of gladioli, mainly in the Noordoostpolder here in the Netherlands. This is the area that’s traditionally known as gladioli territory. That means the availability of land is a challenge here, but the quality of the product harvested from this land is high, providing a dependable starting point for the end user. After all, healthy bulbs produce healthy flowers! That’s how we see it. Our bulbs are sold primarily to domestic flower cutters and exporters and in the form of dry sales.

What are your biggest challenges?
The key question for our future is how we can produce a high-quality product with the best possible yield despite the restrictions imposed on us by society. The safer path we have always walked to keep our plants healthy is being made more and more difficult. The “medicine cabinet” we used to use to prevent plant diseases has been taken away from us. That means that we’re more at the mercy of nature now – but of course, we still have our craftsmanship to lean on. Together with Forever, we conduct research on how to produce the healthiest possible varieties using the approaches and techniques that are currently available. Of course, we are also constantly looking for new innovations and working to develop disease-resistant varieties. Despite the challenges we’re facing, we still manage to produce healthy gladiolus varieties that meet the demands of society.

What’s the advantage of working with Forever Bulbs?
Forever knows about all the important aspects of gladiolus cultivation. Breeding, advice, export. For me as a grower, it’s particularly interesting to be so close to the breeding process. It means you can change and adapt quickly. The lines are short, and the processes are efficient. That makes for a very organized workflow because we have the flexibility and power to implement new strategies. Forever Bulbs also really stands for the quality of the bulbs they sells. That may sound obvious, but it’s definitely not always the case. With Forever, you know you’re getting quality. It’s all thanks to all the knowledge the company has and the short links in their cultivation program. It allows you to create a sense of security together. Amongst each other, but also in a customer-facing way.

What exactly do you mean by that?
Since the lines of communication among all the links in the chain are so short, you know immediately whether what you have delivered is good or not. If you can create a certain security when it comes to sales and continuity for your end user, and you keep that up for several years, you’re much more confident doing business than when you don’t have that mutual coordination. I personally love to see a tray of healthy bulbs. And if a customer sends you a photo of a field full of flowers, looking amazing, that’s a beautiful thing.

At Forever Bulbs, who do you talk to on a regular basis?
Every week, I discuss the quality of the bulbs with Jan. I talk to the guys at Sales about meeting customer needs in the short term, delivery times, and other conditions we have to take into account. I also have a direct line to Management (Frank and Marcel). We meet several times a year. Because all the growers and direct stakeholders regularly put our heads together, we can really harmonize on all the important issues. This allows us to continuously optimize the entire process of gladiolus cultivation. It works very well.

What is your goal for the future?
My long-term goal is to make a good living with a healthy product. Healthy bulbs produce healthy flowers. I enjoy using all the knowledge we have to achieve the best possible quality and quantity. I want to move forward! And so I jump at every opportunity to grow an even better product.