This is the title Piet van Kampen has given to his contribution to the EMC Go Live event. He is going to be interviewed by Diana Toma and the topic of the discussion will be just that: how can florists and growers learn from each other? And where does this lead us to? How can we improve communication? At the end of the day, to put it in his own words "flowers have to be sold with a message and there is only one single client, that is the final customer who pays". No matter how many varying intermediary sectors of the business are there in the middle (wholesellers, hardgood producers, transporters, etc) the flower will always be born in the hands of a grower and the message can only be delivered by the hands and creative mind of a florist. Bridging the two together is part of Piet's main influences in the floral industry, worldwide.
Who doesn't know Piet Van Kampen? He has been an important figure in the floral industry for 47 years now and his unique, out of the box, authentic approach to making business has set him apart in the market. And, even more important, it has made him one of the strongest supporter of bringing florists and growers together.
Finding his real passion in flowers was something that happened without him planning it. He really wanted to be a sports teacher, but back in 1973 he was too late to subscribe to attend the sports clinic, and so he had to postpone it for one year. He started his floral career in 1973 in Rungis, near Paris where he had his first job working in the flower market. He enjoyed it very much, and, a year later, he returned to Holland and started to work for Zurel. After 23 years at Zurel, he took the next step and started working as a commercial director for DGI. Currently, he is retired from the active business environment, but for sure his passion for working with people and flowers is still there and you can still find him, daily, in on a field or in a nursery, surrounded by flowers.
In all this period he was traveling around the world, and he often heard in several countries
that consumers didn’t want to buy or offer fresh flowers because of their poor vase life. Often times the flowers wouldn’t last more than 2-3 days for the final client. He was shocked. He figured out that in average, the flowers are twelve days old before they come from a nursery to the final consumer. In the supply chain there are so many filters between the growers and the end users so this adds up costs, and also shortens the period that the clients have to enjoy their cut flowers.
Finding this problem in the market was something that he wanted to solve. As a trader, he has always stood close to the growers and often felt like their representative. So, in 2010 he co-founded the platform G-fresh, which enables wholesalers and their florist customers to order directly from the growers. The aim was to connect parties and guarantee the end customer the freshest flowers at the lowest additional cost. G-fresh only worked with master growers from Holland, ’’growers with a story that are producing flowers with a message’’, as he says. Piet knows the power of storytelling and he believes that as florists we must be sure that we give this message to the end consumer. In his opinion florists shouldn’t battle with the supermarkets every day. They have to distinguish themselves by offering the one thing that the street market can’t offer: the personal touch and the information.
Of course, it's not necessary that the florists know all the ins and outs of all the different flowers. But to make it simpler, they should make a choice in terms of ’’Who their customer is?!’’. Is he this the modern guy who doesn't have time, is he the classical person that wants a beautiful arrangement with a story?! Florists have to choose their customer and when they do that, they choose also as a consequence that product. Referring to the 80:20 rule, after analyzing the situation, they can conclude what are the 20% flowers their market needs, and those flowers they have to know everything about. Where do they come from, how do they grow, some fun facts... all this information if it would be shared by the florists with their customers, ’’it will be the motivation frame for a return purchase’’ as he says.
Piet knows that price and quality are essential to success, but he also realized that, in addition
to source and product knowledge, information and inspiration are just as essential for the florist. So, in 2014 he founded Floral Fundamentals - a digital magazine that was borne ’’out of the necessity of helping growers and florists’’, as he says. This free magazine is all about growers, designers and inspiring floral design. Floral Fundamentals aims to share practical information about flowers, plants and new sundry products used in the floral industry. Some of the best floral designers from around the world have gathered together to help in the Floral Fundamentals project with the aim of inspiring florists with refreshing ideas on how to present original designs in their own marketplace. Floral Fundamentals also allows the designers to meet the growers and in turn they find out how much hard work and pride growers put into their flowers and plants.
With a great love for flowers, Piet has contributed so much to the evolving of the floral industry, having a great impact on bringing growers together with florists and making the world benefit from the beauty of flowers.
by Ana Maria Grigoras & Diana Toma
Focus On The Future
EMC Go Live Event 2021 panel discussion: future trends and business developments influence the floral industry, worldwide. Read more about it here.