Saturday afternoon started rainy in Breda, the Netherlands, but as soon as Jack Aartsen and his family revealed Aartsenfruit’s new name and officially opened the Aartsen family company’s renewed head office, the sun broke through. Almost as if it was planned that way. Naturally, that wasn’t the case, but it wouldn’t have surprised anyone. The decision for the name-change, the set-up of the main branch and the unveiling of both had been planned up to the smallest detail, and it had been done completely according to the strategy and vision of the family company.
New head office
Aartsen’s renewed head office had to be a pleasant place. A place people enjoy coming to for work, and where they want to achieve maximum results every day. Jack Aartsen thinks a good climate is important for that. That doesn’t just mean that the temperatures in the new office are pleasant – an innovative cooling and heating system was installed to that end – it means the work spaces for employees are pleasant as well: plenty of space, good chairs, plenty of natural light, an inviting atmosphere and pleasant places for meetings. To maintain good contacts with the other departments, a lot of windows were installed and a central coffee room was created. A nice lunchroom was created as well, so that employees can take a break from work every day.
And then there’s the old farm, the company’s benchmark for years, and now converted into a space where you can talk, work or relax in a different setting. Is that all? No, there’s also a gym, located in the basement of the building, where employees can work out under supervision or on their own.
The link between old and new
No more fruit
The opening of the building would have been plenty of reason for a party, but more was celebrated last Saturday. “We get nearly half our turnover from vegetables,” Jack says. “The name Aartsenfruit doesn’t cover the overtones of our company, and we thought this could be improved.” When things can be improved, the company improves them. Aartsenfruit will from now on be known as Aartsen, with fruit & vegetables as the pay-off. This new name also puts the familial character of the company central. “All of our employees can now also say: I am Aartsen.”
“A decision with consequences,” Jack continues, smiling. “After all, we put our company name on everything over the years.” They also got started on that: the new name will soon be displayed on the building, naturally, but the new business cards have been printed as well, and after the unveiling of the new name, the first part of the fleet of cars could immediately be shown.
For the Dutch family company it’s a new moment to add to the company history. Considering that history was started more than 110 years ago, the list has become quite long. From the founding in 1907 to the arrival of the second and third generation Aartsen, via the sale to and purchasing back from a British investment company in 2002, to the centenary in 2007 and the internationalisation: the second branch has now been opened in Venlo, Aartsenfruit Frugo was started in Belgium, and Aartsen Fruit Asia was founded in 2012.
All of this results in a family company that grew faster than ever before in the past three years, and four branches with more than 200 employees now import fresh produce grown by more than 650 producers in more than 50 countries. It also results in a Jack Aartsen who isn’t just full of ambition for the next steps, including a new cask warehouse and expansion of the offices, but he also took time last Saturday to linger over the current situation. “Proud as a peacock,” he says of the company that doesn’t have as its ambition to be the biggest but to be the best. The opening and new name are another important step in that direction. “We stop with fruit, but grow as a family.”