Take a look inside Marginpar's kitchen! In various interviews we are sharing our unique recipe for unique flowers, powerful collaborations and tackling tricky challenges.Back to stories
Marginpar. A UNIQUE PRODUCT OF NATURE, SIGNED BY OUR PEOPLE. But who exactly are our people? Get to know us in these stories:
Managing Director since 1999, co-CEO since 2022. In this story he takes us through the past, the present and his dreams for the future. Rob's parents set up Marginpar in the late 80's as an agency for flower growers in Zimbabwe. From the Netherlands they brought new varieties to the Zimbabwean flower fields. Fast forward ±30 years and Marginpar is a strong company with 120 varieties growing in four countries.
Chief Operating Officer. Haron: “We have 10 farms in the group (7 in Kenya and 3 in Ethiopia). These farms need direction and it is my responsibility to give them that. I have to ensure that all the farms focus on our goal: to produce quality, and the right quantity of stems that meet the market demand.
Richard (Kiki) Fernandes
Co-CEO. Kiki always says that “It’s our people who make things happen. The base of our ‘strategy temple’ is all about people, empowering dedicated self-managing teams of people.”. In the interview he talks about how they moved away from the traditional ‘top down’ approach, and introduced a ‘no blame culture’, and how making everyone 'see the same tree' is crucial for success.
ESG Officer. ESG stands for Environment, Social, and Governance. Areas of importance, beyond our own benefit. Marginpar is a frontrunner when it comes to ESG, and it has become part of everyday work. ESG committees on each farm focus on day-to-day improvements in subjects like water quality, safety, waste management, composting, and community welfare. Steve and the farm teams are also working closely together with Production Innovation Consultant Sebastian Chambers, who focuses on big innovation projects in the company.
Jemimah Kiora and Priscilla Muhonja
Post-harvest managers. They both started out as value adders in the field and went through all the ranks in post-harvest to become the managers that they are today. Priscilla: “We are true examples of Marginpar’s motto ‘We grow people, our people grow unique flowers’. We have really grown under Marginpar’s wings.” Their responsibility lies in the entire process from right after harvesting up until boxing and shipping the flowers.
Farm manager. It’s been 8 months since two of our farms in Kenya – Hamwe farm and Livewire farm – merged into one big farm; Kariki Naivasha farm. Management teams and facilities were combined and it is now one strong entity. Esao explains about the process of the merger and his talent of bringing people together.
Michiel van Paassen
Sales and Marketing Manager. We are not looking for direct customers, but strategic partners who fit into our vision; with whom we become stronger together. Marginpar aims for the widest possible reach among florists in the larger European markets. We look for cooperation with sales partners who excel in these markets. Who know how to optimally serve the florist. Together, we ensure that our flowers are readily available in these markets.
Arjan van Roessel
It all started with an internship at Frascati Flora in Zimbabwe: The farm of Bate and Jill Koning, founders of Marginpar. The internship was successful and Arjan stayed. From that moment on Arjan has been involved in the growth and development of Marginpar.
Senior Technical Post-Harvest Manager. Jane is responsible for the packing side of the quality assurance. One of Jane’s main tasks is to support the post-harvest managers when needed. Jane: “When a post-harvest manager encounters a problem, I go there for a couple of days to assist him or her. It can be a technical problem like flowers responding badly to a certain post-harvest treatment, or re-evaluating the temperature at which flowers are kept until transport, but it can also be about proper equipment at a farm or the standard operation systems (SOPs).
Innovation Projects Consultant. Sebastian's role is to look at big innovation projects in the company: new water reservoirs, irrigation systems, energy reduction & generation… “The practical stuff.” He is often to be found at the Marginpar headquarters in Nanyuki, Kenya, which is part of one of our largest farms; Bondet. There, he tests most of his innovative ideas before the successful ones are implemented at all farms.
Trial Sites Coordinator in Kenya and Ethiopia. At these trial sites, new varieties are tested and a ‘growing manual’ is developed. A huge part of his job is staying in contact with our breeders. Colin: “We are working with about 30 breeders, and 45 crops. This is over 700 varieties. Anything we learn from the trials we share back with our breeders, who in turn share a lot of information as well. It is so exciting when a new product goes commercial; it is very rewarding for the team and a big accomplishment.”
Jamie den Haan
Market Demand Planner. Jamie links with partners & auctions to make sure they all receive a good Marginpar package. With over 120 different varieties, this is a nice challenge! With his 22 years of experience in the flower business he knows better than anyone else that predictability is incredibly important. Jamie: "The balance between the clock and direct sales is closely monitored. The clock is still our biggest market and that is also where we serve the most customers."
Farm manager. Miriam: “My key role is to oversee all the farm operations. At the end of the day I am responsible for all of the sections, so I have to be aware of what is happening. I support the production manager and post-harvest manager to make sure that everything is running as it should be. This is my day-to-day work. In the meantime, I have to make sure that we meet the market demand and that we are running at a profit.”
Product Development Manager. Marginpar stands for innovation and is continuously looking for new products. Bart Merkus is responsible for the expansion of our product range. In this story he takes us through the process of innovation. And it can be a lengthy process, but our team is persistent. Bart: "If something works out immediately, it will also work for the competitor; it shouldn't be too easy."
Hamuka Coordinator. When Marginpar started Hamuka in 2012, Laban was immediately intrigued by the principles and decided to join the Hamuka department. Laban: “Hamuka is derived from Kaizen, which is a Japanese concept. ‘Kai’ means change and ‘zen’ means for better, or for good. We strive for continuous improvement. For us to truly feel ownership of the culture, we came up with our own name, and so Hamuka was born.”
Partner Farm Managing Director. Rob manages Tsanga Flora in Zimbabwe, and is setting up our 7th partner farm; Claremont. Rob: "There is a lot of old flower development there, like old pack sheds, irrigation schemes and fields that we just need to revive.” Running two companies is no piece of cake, but Rob is up for the challenge and relies on his teams to make things happen.
Helena van Achterberg
Marketing & Communication officer. Helena's objective: to tell the Marginpar story. She came from the world of television and events where she had always been creating content. She was new to the world of flowers, but was quick to learn all about them and ready to start sharing. Helena: “I am responsible for all media expressions both internally and externally. A few examples are newsletters, the website, social media and events."
Agronomist. Ronald's goal is to make the cultivation of our flowers more sustainable. Cultivation starts with the soil. That is why Ronald's biggest question is perhaps: 'What can we do to manage the soil sustainably?'. Ronald: "We want to use fewer and fewer chemicals, but still protect the soil against diseases and pests, and keep the soil as workable and fertile as possible. We are doing a lot of research, specific for our farms and our crops."
Farm manager. Wiebe became the manager of Bondeni Machame Farm, one of our partner farms in Tanzania, 4 years ago. Wiebe: "It is interesting when you join a company that is already running. At first I just watched to see how they operate, what systems they use. It was only after three months or so that I started getting involved. By spending a few days with all departments, you find out what is going on and what they are doing. Of course, I have an ideal image in my head, so then it’s a matter of steering in that direction.”
Production manager. Once the market demand is ready, providing the what and when of the stems we want to bring to the market, it's time for the farms to figure out the how. Fasika: "We first look at the land each farm has available, and of course at which crops work best in which environments. We split the crops per country and per farm and then it is time to specify a plan per farm. This includes e.g. planting, fertilizing, and maintenance for each crop, and each m2.”
Market Demand Controller. Marleen lives in Ethiopia but works for all four of our production countries (Kenya, Ethiopia, Tanzania, and Zimbabwe). She has been working at Marginpar since 2010, but in 2021 this role was created to support our transition from push to pull. A market-driven strategy requires careful production planning; forecasting - and therefore data - is very important to be able to serve the market well.
Read Marleen's story
Customer Account Manager. One of our largest logistical challenges is our flowers’ journey from Africa to the Netherlands (and a few other destinations). Part of it is in our hands, the other part is in the hands of our logistics partners. The one coordinating the whole process from Nairobi Jomo Kenyatta International Airport in Kenya is our smooth operator Kennedy Kiarie who is based at the epicentre of all logistic movements, at JKIA Airport in the K+N building.
General Manager. Marginpar is growing fast. As Michel puts it: "We have called a lot upon ourselves all at once. We are building a whole new IT package, the new construction of our headquarters on the N201 is obviously not an easy task, and at the same time we are shaping the organisation. Two years ago, we were very different, the team was much smaller. In addition to team developments, there are also more plans, there is more structure, and more pressure. That demands a lot from our people. At Marginpar, we give genuine room for development to our employees. I dare say that this is a unique company. That drive for development comes from the top, and it has to, for it to have a central place in the organisation."
Farm manager Miriam Kimani: "We like trying new products"
In this edition of #TheMarginparRecipe we are telling the story of farm manager Miriam Kimani (48) of the Kariki Juja Farm in Kenya.read more
Jamie den Haan: "Predictability is key"
The Marginpar Recipe #7read more
Colin Fernandes: “It’s a real team effort between us and our breeders"
Colin Fernandes (27) joined Marginpar in 2019 and manages the trial sites in Kenya and Ethiopia.read more