Interview with Peter Janssens from Janssens Greenhouses in Belgium
- What made your grandfather start Janssens? Do you know where he drew inspiration in order to start and build this business?
My grandfather Constant Janssens founded the company in 1946. He was a carpenter and started a construction company. He established a strong reputation in building sports and factory halls, using traditional wood and laminated wooden arches. There were no glass greenhouses at the start. A few years later, the link came through by building storage-space at horticulturalists and so slowly a shift came to professional greenhouse constructions.
- Your father then joined the business years later, so what were his visions when he joined the company?
My father strengthened the business in the 1970s and made the switch from wood to aluminium. Professional greenhouses became the main business. Slowly there was an increasing demand for hobby and cultivation greenhouses outside the professional environment, in people’s backyard.
The development of an extensive range of hobby greenhouses became his main motivation. He has more than succeeded in this by entering the international market.
In the 1980s as the company grew, the focus shifted to this B2B story and exports became the most important pillar within the company. I suspect this has certainly exceeded many of his expectations before.
- When did you join the business and how have you and your father grown Janssens over the years?
After finishing school I started working in the family business. At the start I supported sales, afterwards I moved to the technical department. For 12 years I was responsible for production preparation, drawings and technical developments. I worked closely with my father who was in charge of the company. A few years down the line we managed the company together. In many ways we hold the same opinion and so in practise we really complement each other. In recent years there has been a gradual, organic shift in which he has passed the torch.
- What do you see as the biggest accomplishments since Janssens began?
It is difficult to speak of “the greatest achievement.” In any case, we are very proud of what we have developed over the years: the company itself, but also the relationship of trust we have built with our customers and the steady growth.
- What is the most favourite part about your job? What excites you the most?
I’m a technical person so everything to do with that (such as new developments) fascinates me. In daily challenges, we try to make ‘overarching’ decisions and share insight, experience and knowledge.
- What makes Janssens stand out from its competitors?
Where Janssens distinguishes itself from others in my opinion is in quality and trust! We try to offer the “better” hobby greenhouses. When it comes to developments, we will always start from a certain “need” or “demand” for a product where we try to provide the best possible technical solution to. When making new designs we never start from a price point of view.
- What made you choose Vitavia to become Janssens’ UK distributer?
The collaboration with Vitavia has been a choice to be complimentary. Vitavia has an existing distribution network and its own greenhouse range. We don’t see this as competition but we strongly believe that both products and ranges can be complementary to each other and ensures to offer a full range.
- In what ways would you like to grow the business in the future?
The company has grown strong in recent years! A further continuation of this will be felt in a further spread of the distributors and the opening of new markets (Russia, Australia…)