Art van Rijn on the global growth of vertical agriculture
New Year's interview
In 2022, like everyone else, Artechno Growsystems faced a lot of turbulence in the market. Despite this, the company had a fantastic year. Art van Rijn, the President and owner of Artechno Group, looks back on 2022 and ahead to 2023.
How would you sum up the year 2022 for Artechno Growsystems?
"As a positive and exciting year, with a growth in global recognition for vertical farming as an additional business in the overall Agricultural Technology industry.
In recent years, the interest and recognition for vertical farming were already growing, but in the past year, I saw a tremendous acceleration.
As more and more potential parties engage in indoor Automated Vertical Farming, more and more sustenance is given by innovative vertical farming systems and factories that have been put into the market. The results create a lot of confidence among potential customers.”
What were the highlights of 2022?
"First of all, the recognition, both for vertical farming and specifically for our turn-key concept.
Nowadays, potential customers increasingly recognize the value of our factories that are designed from A to Z.
There are no other parties who do this in this way, and this makes us stand out in the international market.”
Aqualeap and turn-key projects
"Additionally, the demerger of Aqualeap as a business unit was an excellent highlight. This allows us at Artechno Growsystems to focus more on our turn-key projects and will enable Aqualeap to concentrate on their area of expertise, water filtration systems.
Thanks in part to this professionalization effort, we scored great projects in 2022 and delivered turn-key projects at multiple clients.”
Those are a lot of highlights!
"There were many more. For example, we recently joined AVAG, the leading trade association where Dutch companies work together in the field of integrated growing systems, components, and related services.
In addition, Artechno Growsystems entered the Hillenraad100 as a newcomer. We were selected from thousands of companies, which indeed is a milestone.
We also participated in several trade shows, including:
And then there was the launch of our new website, where you can discover how we at Artechno Growsystems put the plant at the center of our focus. We then build a vertical farming system around that so that our client can grow the best crop and thus creates a strong business.
All in all, 2022 was an incredibly beautiful year.”
Looking back, what are you proud of?
"In terms of our professionalization, we have made great strides. Marco van der Velden was hired as CEO, and we created an annual strategic plan, which includes the primary processes within our company and our supply chain. Based on that annual plan, we can make tremendous progress.
We are also working on structuring our organization and mapping emerging markets. These are interesting focal points for 2023.”
"Furthermore, we have grown our globalization. Since January 1, 2022, we have had an office in Dubai, where our general manager Michael Morgan is based. He is our representative for our Middle East markets.
I am based in America. This way, we have strong coverage for all our offices worldwide.”
"Strong division of our various branches is essential to structure and guide our globalization and growth. Through this, we have established a solid future-proof foundation while continuing to ensure food safety and security.
I am very proud that we have achieved global and overall growth while proving that we manage it all well.”
"With our product, we offer our customers a complete solution from A to Z. In addition, our systems are perfectly scalable. Eight years ago, we thought out this plan based on our vision to future-proof our company and product.
Our system is modular, and it can grow with a customer's business.”
Did you face any challenges in 2022?
"The pandemic created challenges, which we anticipated from the beginning of 2020.
Among other things, making even better forecasts for ourselves gives us a much faster understanding of what we need. This also allows us to anticipate better what we require from our suppliers.”
"Another big challenge is the staff shortage. Not only in the Netherlands but also in America, it is not easy to find people with proper knowledge.
The upside to this is that despite labor shortages, we still manage to attract talented new staff.
We can see that people love coming to work with us because we are such an innovative company with a unique product. Also, joining us is joining a highly skilled team.
I find that candidates are incredibly enthused and passionate about what we do here and are eager to become part of our team.”
Have there been internal changes in 2022?
"When you grow as a business, you must ensure that you implement and professionalize that growth in all aspects of the organization.
For example, as a small business, we didn't have departments for everything, but as we grew, we needed those. That is why, among other departments, we have expanded and professionalized our HRM division.
The job satisfaction of our staff is and remains our focus. Thanks in part to our HRM department, we are able to achieve that.”
What do you carry over from 2022 into 2023?
"Among other things, we include our goals. For example, we will continue to focus on our global growth in the near future by further shaping our branches in North America and the Middle East. Ultimately, we want to be able to service our customers with local support in these regions.
We will also explore what other steps we can take to serve our customers better. Finally, we want to take steps towards professionalization and continue to manage our scalability effectively.”
What is planned for 2023?
"We start the year by moving to our new premises at Bandijkweg 2, 2676 LJ, in Maasdijk. In recent years Artechno Growsystems experienced significant growth, and we welcomed a lot of new staff. The production hall is continuously filled with projects, so it was time for a new location.
The new location offers more office space, has a significantly larger production hall and is in all aspects more future-proof than our current premises. By the way, our Research Centre will remain in De Lier.
A few other events scheduled for 2023:
- Greentech in Amsterdam
- The Indoor Ag-Con in Las Vegas
- Various trade fairs in the Middle East
We have our agenda filled with exciting events and launches!”
Will anything change as far as your project and product development are concerned?
"Yes, we are continuously developing ourselves, and this will be reflected, for example, in the enhancement of our products.
In our Research Center, we will do even more plant research on a variety of crops and cultivation recipes.
We did the same for 12 months in 2022 and obtained excellent results. We use the trials to create our recipes, which we incorporate into our factories' software.
In the field of research, we are the forerunner in the market and will continue to hold that leading position. What also makes us unique in this respect is that we employ our own agronomists who conduct research. We share that knowledge with our customers.”
A moment ago, I touched upon emerging markets. We will be working more broadly across the market.”
‘More broadly across the market,' what does that mean?
"We are now mainly building vertical factories for growing leafy greens, baby leaves, and herbs, but our products can be much more widely implemented. You can think of cannabis for the medical world, young plant propagation of vegetable and ornamental crops.
We want to devote time and attention to this in the coming years, and we will not stop this for a long time to come. We, for example, also want to focus more on nutritional values rather than productivity.
That way, we will help our customers even better by providing them with additional data. This will enhance their product even further.”
What will 2023 be like for Artechno?
2023 is all about our ambition:
Be the authority in the vertical farming industry by providing the best vertical farming concept with proven technology. We built full-service vertical farms with a sustainable business model from the start. From idea to initiation, realization, and export of the farm.
To maintain our position as the authority in the vertical farming industry by providing the best vertical farming concept with proven technology. Our full-service vertical farms are designed with a sustainable business model from the outset, from concept to the farm's creation, implementation, and operation.
With our expertise, you can trust that your vertical farm will be a success.
“We will undoubtedly have a fantastic and successful year ahead.”
Are you interested in vertical farming? Or do you have any questions? Don't hesitate to contact us; we are happy to help you.