250 years of experience in material handling bundled in new company

VH Systems has been operating for a few months now. It is a new player in the market for internal transport in greenhouse horticulture. Or, well, newish, as those who look closely will see that there are many familiar faces working for the company. Roeland van Dijk, Sales Manager at the internal transport specialist, explains why and what exactly VH Systems does.

The employees of VH Systems have collectively experienced a turbulent history. First they all worked together at Hawe, then from 1998 at Codema, and now jointly at VH Systems from June 2022. So the people within VH Systems, all with internal transport as a specialism, have been working together for many years. Roeland: “Some colleagues I have known for more than 20 years.”

The end of Codema came hard. The core of the material handling department saw the value of the team very clearly and wanted to stay together. But not in the same way. They wanted to go back to their own competence but with their own production. This production was largely outsourced to the neighbor, Van Zet Group. These contacts were strengthened and a joint plan was forged. You don’t keep that quiet for long in horticulture.

Via via, they came into contact with (glasshouse) horticulture consortium Atrium Agri. “Freek van der Zanden of Van Zet Group and I then further developed our plan together with Atrium Agri, combining our joint knowledge and experience in a new company. Our people like their work, their customers are important and like to remain colleagues.” They liked that story at Atrium Agri. “They saw a golden opportunity: a motivated and strong team complete on a golden platter including their own production!”

250 years of experience
Added up, VH Systems has over 250 years of working experience in material handling. “Some guys have been working in this field for more than 25 years, including myself. The team at VH Systems is perfectly balanced in terms of sales, engineering, supervisors, and service engineers,” says Roeland, who emphasizes how unique that is. “People like that are scarce. You won’t find them easily, let alone in an entire team.”

A good team also needs good accommodation. This was found in Bergschenhoek, in the former Codema premises, where Van Zet Groep was also already located. “For us, the old guard, it’s nice that we can stay in the same place. For us, it was important that engineering and production would remain in the same location, and we succeeded.”

Flying start
So VH Systems focuses on internal transport. “That specifically means mobile container systems and mobile chute systems. Those are our two pillars. We have a lot of experience in that.” The systems are used in greenhouses, but also in indoor and vertical farms. Yet VH Systems is not directly betting on that at the moment. “We can’t do everything right now. That is not realistic. We now do what we are good at and have our own sales, design, engineering and production for this.”

A familiar team in a familiar location, logical that many growers soon sought out VH Systems. From day one, the team was able to get straight to work. “We immediately jumped in on the work that needed to be finished. It’s great to see that existing relations have confidence in us. We have the right people and experience. That makes us decisive.”

First projects
VH Systems is not yet able to help everyone, but is happy to assist. “We listen to everyone and provide service where we can.” Meanwhile, even new construction projects are already in the still young company’s project portfolio. “With a grower, who knows many of us from before, we are currently building a system for growing lettuce on water. It will be a super nice project. When everything is finished in the near future, we as VH Systems will be very proud of it.”

VH Systems is part of Atrium Agri, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t work with parties other than its partners. “We are very grateful to Atrium Agri for investing in us, but there is no exclusivity. We strengthen each other where necessary, but VH Systems also makes decisions for itself. And we are working hard on that.”

This year, the team has already managed to get a lot of work done. Next year is still a challenge, as it is for almost everyone in (greenhouse) horticulture, Roeland observes. “As a new player, it is therefore important to show who we are and that we are there.”