07.01.2021

“The diversity and the high quality of the Dutch horticulture is inspiring”

#IntoHorticulture inspires Maureen Sondag of the Dutch Embassy in Washington DC

 

’Meeting and talking with the horticultural companies is very inspiring,’ says Maureen Sondag with excitement from Washington DC.  ‘It is great to see the diversity and the quality of the Dutch industry during the #IntoHorticultureCourse of World Horti Center. I am very excited about telling the story about Dutch horticulture together.’

Maureen has been working as the Agricultural Trade Officer for the Agricultural Team for the United States and Canada at the Embassy of the Netherlands in Washington DC since 2013. Maureen visited the Dutch horticultural industry in the Westland area with World Horti Center (WHC) for four days. Former Public Affairs Manager Angelique de Wit (WHC) organized this tailor-made horticultural course, which provided Maureen with a good impression of  the latest developments in the industry.

Passion and efficiency

‘It is impressive to visit the horticultural companies in person as you get a true sense of the entrepreneurs' passion here. Horticultural companies from the Westland region are ambitious: they aim to be the best, the most innovative and the fastest. This is directly shown in their business operations through efficient processes, strategic set-ups of the companies and the focus on high quality products,’ according to Maureen. ’Entrepreneurs are at their best telling their story in their own setting: their company, where they can show you everything on the spot. These visits also give me the opportunity to put everything in context and promote the Dutch horticultural industry abroad even more.’

‘As the Dutch Embassy's Agricultural Team, we focus on creating opportunities for the Dutch horticultural industry in North America. We meet many companies in Canada and the United States, but it’s also crucial to stay up to date about developments in the Dutch horticultural industry. This horticultural course provides an excellent opportunity for this.’

Excitement throughout the industry

Maureen knows how to portray the character of the Dutch horticultural industry well. ’During this horticultural course I saw the following three things throughout the companies: Passion, Engagement and Modesty,’ she says. ’The entrepreneurs are passionate and very knowledgeable about their products. During conversations they are engaging and welcoming. Not only towards me but also to their colleagues and other entrepreneurs in the industry. It is a community in which everyone is well acquainted and up to date about each other's business.'

 

’Horticultural entrepreneurs are excited and energetic when you meet them,’ emphasizes Maureen. ‘Opportunity goes hand in hand with responsibility in the Westland area. If, for example, a new generation in the family business takes over the company, that person will get the trust and the opportunity to execute their vision of entrepreneurship within the company.’ Many entrepreneurs also spoke to Maureen about the principle of ‘”follow and focus” in the Westland community. ‘Sometimes company A will take the lead, and the others will follow. At other times, company B will be leading, and the rest will follow. In short, horticultural companies inspire and learn from each other. That is wonderful to see,’ says Maureen.

Promotion: Many opportunities

‘There are many opportunities with regards to promotion, presentation and presence of the industry,’ according to Maureen. ’Earlier I mentioned the modesty of the industry. This is also reflected in the way the Dutch horticultural companies represent themselves. There is a lot of  innovation and accleration, but the Dutch horticultural industry is not used to promoting and presenting their expertise. A good (sales) pitch is a must in North America. Dutch companies assume that a good product will sell itself. This is a missed opportunity because as a company you need to fully promote yourself in the United States and Canada. The Dutch horticultural industry is “the best of the best” and we should all promote it with pride.’  Therefore, to optimize business opportunities, Maureen advises companies to master their pitch and to be more conscious of the local context when doing business abroad.

The Embassy of the Netherlands can provide assistance with this. ’We know the North American market well including the business mindset and the culture. We can inform companies about the relevant expositions, conferences and events for the industry here in the United States and Canada. We also understand the Dutch business perspective well.  We will gladly advise Dutch companies in developing their collaborations with American or Canadian companies.’

Last but not least, Maureen sees many opportunities for structural collaboration between the Dutch Agricultural Attaché Network, the World Horti Center and the Dutch horticultural industry to represent the Dutch horticultural industry on a national and international level."