After 26 years of being part of a parent organization, Varekamp Coldstores Holland from Westland has been on its own two feet again since 2019. "It was two intensive but also exciting years," director-owner Willem Nowee recalls. Nonetheless, double-digit growth was achieved last year. An upgrade of the cold store is planned for 2021.
"The first year of the privatisation was the disentanglement from the Kloosterboer group. It's a lot to handle. For example, you have to redesign many aspects of the operational management. Think of the administration, the IT system, but also the accountant, insurance policies, job profiles need dealt with. And attention must be paid to day-to-day operations," Willem says.
Willem Nowee (right). Photo: Gerard Vellekoop
"On the other hand, these changes also make space for new developments. Recalibrating all business processes in our own way has been a very nice process," says Willem. "Last week we had an excellent audit, resulting in BRC Storage & Distribution at A-level and IFS at higher level. The reassessment of our AEO status was also done by customs and successfully completed in a short time. It is also a great credit to the entire team that we realised all this in such a short time after the split-off. Every day they work with great passion for our customers."
Photo: Gerard Vellekoop
"In March 2020 it was all hands on deck when we had to anticipate the corona virus, so that the safety of people and the business operations could be guaranteed as much as possible. In this way we made a virtue out of necessity and immediately expanded the workplaces for our employees and made them corona-proof. Another entrance for drivers has also been created, which limits crossing traffic. I am pleased with how understanding the response has been to these changes and I hope that this relaxation will continue in the future."
"The corona outbreak did not have any negative effects for us in terms of trade. It was particularly busy in the first months and we achieved good double-digit growth in 2020," says Willem. "Over the years, as an independent, neutral service provider, we have built up a good customer base, whom we have often completely relieved of logistics for years, so that they can fully focus on the marketing of their products."
Citrus washing line
"In addition, we want to continue to expand our services. A good example is the strategic step we took in 2019 with our neighbour Looije Packing, including an on-site citrus washing line. This cooperation gives us extra strength. We already repackaged and selected the fruit, but with this service, supplemented with services such as nets, flow packing, laser burning and ripening, the range of services is getting wider. "
"In terms of products, we cool a wide range of fruit and exotics here, mostly from overseas. Grapes, citrus, avocados, mangos and ginger are large product groups for us, but we also have customers who are active in flower bulbs. Last year we worked with various new customers started working. Varekamp was founded in 1953. Many people in the worldwide fruit trade know our name and we hope to continue our growth in the coming years. Although I tend more towards steady growth than enormous outliers."
Photo: Gerard Vellekoop
The upgrade of both the outside and the inside of the cold store is planned for 2021. "We are in talks about this with Hgit ABC Westland and a revitalization plan is in the pipeline. We can work fine here, but the building is somewhat dated. That is why we are going to work to settle down again for the next ten years. For example, new ceilings are being installed in the warehouse and we are giving the exterior a new look. "