Qualily, supplying quality means meeting the buyer’s expectations
Qualily, the company
“We supply the mid-market segment with somewhat heavier stems”, says co-owner Ruud van der Hoeven. Various steps have to be taken to reach this objective, and it begins with choosing the right varieties.
“‘Dalian’ is a lily cultivar with an intense bud colour”, says Ruud van der Hoeven. This is one of the reasons for having it in the company’s line of OT hybrids which also includes ‘Palazzo’. Year-round, Qualily forces OTs and Orientals on 4.5 hectares and LAs and Asiatics on 4 hectares. To accomplish this, Van der Hoeven and John van Ruijven (who forces Orientals) merged their operations almost two years ago. “Our direct sales have skyrocketed in recent years, partly thanks to Raymond Vijverberg who joined us as a partner in 2008. By limiting our production to LAs, we couldn’t offer buyers a complete package.” It was fifteen years ago that the Van der Hoeven – Van Ruijven partnership started promoting their company by means of the Qualily brand. “We decided to use the same sleeve to enhance repeat orders. Nowadays, we use eighteen different sleeves, each with an eye-catching product image. You can’t let up – you have to keep on promoting your product. That’s also why we made Promotion a separate item on the balance sheet at Qualily. The trick is never to relax your efforts to keep attention focused on your product.
Choosing Qualily as a company name was no arbitrary decision. “We are totally committed to our quality.” This may sound like something every company says, but it’s something Qualily really scrutinises. “You know you’re supplying quality when people enjoy your flowers. Buyers have to get what they expect.” Qualily focuses specifically on the mid-market segment. “The majority of our products are sold to wholesalers in France, Germany and Italy. These distributors attract the better florists, so, to serve them, our focus is on ‘4+ quality’: at least four buds per stem.” Quality means that Qualily’s lilies are harvested at the peak of freshness and the perfect level of maturity. “To ensure reliable flowering, all of our lilies receive a pre-treatment. Rapid processing, yet with great care also contributes to the desired level of quality.” In the unlikely event that the buyer is not satisfied, there’s only one thing to be done: “We give our buyers an exchange guarantee on all of our flowers. We also have to guarantee our quality all year round. Consumers do not want fluctuating quality. This means that we give our lilies more space and light during the winter.”
Purchasing the starting material and the choice of cultivars are the two most important factors in determining quality. “You can eliminate a lot of problems by depending on bulb growers who are also committed to providing quality products.” The cultivars that Qualily forces are selected according to such criteria as size, leaf arrangement in relationship to the flowers, flower-facing direction, keeping quality, flower and foliage colour, and the number of buds produced per bulb size. “We force mainly bulb sizes 16-18 and 18-20, and we are always looking for exclusive products: cultivars that are not easily interchangeable. The operations of growers’ associations are beneficial in this respect since their activities are a factor in preventing peaks and troughs in the market. Even so, the growers’ associations still have to be careful about their choice of business partners. Sometimes – if a variety has been on the market for a while – it would be better to promote it among a larger target group. Only then can a variety become a significant product. By working together, you reach a much wider target group and increase sales accordingly.”
By: Jeannet Pennings
Photography: René Faas