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Johan Vrijland joins Up & Up Talent Solutions

"We want to be a one-stop-shop for fruit and vegetable companies' staffing and management needs"

For more than 25 years, Johan Vrijland provided Dutch vegetables to the British market. Last year, he stepped down as director and owner of JNV Produce Marketing. One aspect of his work he enjoyed most was seeing people's careers advance. Once he got the chance to start doing something else, Johan opted to freelance at Up & Up Talent Solutions. There he supports talent and management within international fruit and vegetable companies.

"I've hired staff through recruitment agencies in the past. Selling my business further fueled my interest in the whole labor and management process. Such a process involves legal, commercial, and social aspects, which I found fascinating to experience. You also get to know yourself very well during a process like that," begins Johan.

That he wanted to do that within the fruit and vegetable sector was a no-brainer. "I've always worked in that sector, so I know the culture and how people work. You can't carbon copy that to another industry. I knew of Taco van der Louw of Up & Up and immediately loved his way of working. He doesn't take shortcuts."

"Taco combines his passion with a calm working method. He truly tries to find long-term solutions and bind clients to Up & Up. He doesn't shy away from, but rather embraces, partnering with other international recruiters. That makes Up & Up unique in the industry. Collaboration is the new competition," says Johan.

"There's currently still a massive staff shortage. And given the outflow of people from the job market, as they retire, the shortage of people in the fresh produce sector is set to remain for the foreseeable future. The challenge at hand is that not only are you dealing with an older generation of fruit and vegetable workers, but the new generation also has specific demands and expectations."

"Those are regarding, for example, working hours or hybrid work. The trick for both is not to give up right away but to find a mutually satisfactory solution by sometimes making concessions to both. I don't believe in the upfront argument that things are impossible in the fruit and vegetable sector; clients, too, are of the new generation," Johan explains.

"And people remain a company's biggest asset. Fresh produce companies' biggest daily challenge sometimes seems to be a warehouse that has to be emptied. Yet, ultimately, people do that. The entire fruit and vegetable chain hinges on trust which people, not programs, provide."

"Some business owners' first reaction to keep calm during financially hard times is to postpone vacancies and strategic decisions. But it's not always about what something costs, but much more about what that thing can yield. After all, the tough times can't last forever," Vrijland says.

Besides placing the right candidates with the right companies, Johan wants to work broadly in the fresh produce sector. "We want to add competencies like consultancy or interim management to Up & Up. Times have suddenly become economically turbulent. It means a great deal to entrepreneurs to be able to spar with someone who's involved, but not necessarily in everyday business operations."

"I hope to use the experience I've gained in the industry over the decades to advise business people and hold a mirror up to them. Up & Up wants to become a one-stop shop for all questions concerning personnel and management," Johan concludes.

For more information:
Johan Vrijland
Up & Up Talent Solutions


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