- More and more companies are becoming ‘planet-proof’
- Willem van Dijk AGF expanded by building a new energy efficient cold room at the company premises thanks to the financing of Rabobank Enschede-Haaksbergen
Willem sr. and Willem jr. started planning the expansion four years ago. The cold room of 3,000 square meters at Het Wolbert in Enschede was almost filled with potatoes, vegetables and fruit, and revenue kept increasing. At first, they tried to change how they are organised and to add storage racks. Howerver, at a certain moment, they realised a radical change was necessary. That’s when they contacted the Rabobank, explains Willem Dijk jr.
The company started at the Strootsweg in Enschede in 1994 and already moved to expand after one and a half years. They relocated to Het Wolbert, at the former Altena site. Six years ago, a new hall was built to be able to put away all crates and packaging properly. And now, their cold-room capacity has been expanded by 12,000 square meters.
Problem solved, at least for the time being. The new cold room has enough capacity for 45 trucks (750 pallets) filled with fresh goods. Also, expansion and further growth are possible using the full height of the building. Many trailers are loaded and unloaded every day using the eight loading dock
Dijk benefits from the increased importance of health in society. “We grow at a healthy rate, quite literally. People want to live a healthier life, and this automatically means more consumption of fruit and vegetables. We supply to specialist vegetable shops, itinerant trade, catering wholesalers, convenience & food services and to cutting companies. Three years ago, we grew by 10 per cent. In our industry, this means a huge increase in volume.”
Raymond Kienhuis, account manager at Rabobank Enschede-Haaksbergen, knows Dijk's company like the back of his hand. Dijk has been Rabobank’s customer since they bought their first truck, which means that the company and the bank have a long-term relationship. “As a bank, we believe that sustainable relationships are important. Willem Dijk and the Rabobank match, because Dijk not only builds a long-term sustainable relationship with us, but also with their buyers and suppliers. Also, Dijk has a wide range of products available and can respond to trends. That’s why we are confident to invest.”
Sustainability is of paramount importance to both Willem Dijk and the Rabobank. Dijk: “We are becoming planet proof. We will make the entire food chain, from farm to shelf, sustainable. Not only have we chosen to build a highly energy efficient cold room, but also we will install solar panels next year.”
Dijk does a lot of business in Spain and learned the importance of patience. “It takes a long time before sufficient trust is built up for them to deliver. However, once the relationship is good, it is almost impossible to break it.” Dijk jr. and Dijk sr. have built up such a good bond with some citrus fruit suppliers that Dijk can even sell their supplier’s products with their own “Werkelijk Delicaat” label.
Dijk has become more and more internationally oriented in recent years. “We really improved as we realised that we turned our back to Germany, while we are so close to it. We are operating internationally for 10 years now. Germany is very close to Twente and has a huge potential customer base. We have grown significantly in Germany.”
Raymond Kienhuis of the Rabobank is confident that Dijk will continue to grow. “The fruit and vegetable sector does not have to prove itself, and a company like Dijk certainly does not have to. We are proud that we can help such companies achieve their growth. Especially because agri-food is close to Rabobank’s roots.