How did a surveying company and a fruit company end up in the same shed? Kavel 10 and Fruitkracht in Drachten have family ties and bustle with young entrepreneurship. NOM sought them out and talked about innovating, growing and working in a family business.
Yvette Staal-Brouwer got the idea for Fruit Power a few years ago through the company of her husband and three brothers, the four of whom own Kavel 10. 'Their team was too small for a canteen, but those boys also like to eat something other than the bread they bring,' Yvette thought. 'And why not fruit, that's tasty and healthy.' When she quit her regular job to start her own business, her father jokingly said, "You too, now? You were the only piece of security in the family.'
Like the other Brewers, Yvette appears to have been born for entrepreneurship. What began small and simple from the shed of Lot 10 has become a true Fruit force. With a team of twenty people and a fleet of eight delivery vans, the fruit company delivers sustainable wooden crates full of fresh fruit to more than five hundred companies in the Northern Netherlands. Sister-in-law Erika Poel became a partner in the business. She is married to one of the Brouwer brothers, who together with Yvette's husband Frank Staal run the successful surveying company Kavel 10. With a team of sixteen young data specialists.
The two family businesses share a shed, although in day-to-day operations they have little to do with each other. The men sometimes joke about how the women are steadily taking over the shed with their coolers and vans. 'We are indeed outgrowing our space,' the ladies acknowledge. 'That is why we are looking forward to a new home.' Plot 10 would also like another business premises, preferably with its own hangar at the Airstrip near Drachten or Eelde. 'After all, we also use an aircraft with an advanced scanner for geodata acquisition. In fact, we now have two aircraft, hence that hangar on our wish list.'
Why survey with an airplane? 'My brother Albert is a pilot,' says Richard, the youngest of the bunch. 'He first worked as a commercial pilot at KLM, but preferred to be an entrepreneur. And measuring from the air is very convenient. With drones there are a lot of restrictions, with the plane we get everywhere. Especially now that we have an aircraft with two engines, with which we can also fly above cities. With the plane we can do more projects in one day and also map out areas that are difficult to drive over, such as dikes or heavily wooded regions.'
3D city models
Plot 10 also does 'ordinary' ground measurements with GPS, tachymeters and 360° cameras. 'We acquire data for governments, engineering firms and contractors,' says brother-in-law Frank. 'They need accurate data for infrastructure projects or other designs in the spatial area. Although our data is also interesting for self-driving cars or games, for example. Moreover, we are very good at making 3D city models, which we have already done for Groningen, Rotterdam and London. Cities can use these models to give residents a realistic picture of spatial changes through visualization.'
Innovation takes time, but it also takes trust. You need each other to spar when challenges arise.
Frank, sales and project supervisor Lot 10
The techniques are becoming more sophisticated because geodata is indispensable in our society. "Everyone uses it, for example through Google maps," the gentlemen explain. Does that mean that anyone with the right technical equipment can do the work of Lot 10? 'Our strength lies in the combination of collecting data and offering a complete end product quickly. Our data specialists are indispensable and we make every effort to bring good people here. So far this has worked out well, because we are a young and flexible company in which employees are given space and responsibility. And we copy the art of hip marketing agencies with fun outings and table soccer in the office. Work also involves having fun at times.'
The convivial atmosphere at Lot 10 stems from the equality the (in-law) brothers strive for and the good click between the four of them. 'We all have our own strengths and responsibilities, while we make the big decisions together and also take each other up on ideas,' Richard and Frank explain. 'Innovation takes time, but also trust. You need each other to spar when challenges arise. We haven't faced any real headwinds yet, but the fact that we are family certainly works in our favor. We really care for each other and even apart from the company, we are committed to each other. That bond makes the whole thing stronger.
Yvette and Erika recognize that strong bond as sisters-in-law and business partners. 'We complement each other well and pull each other through the tough moments. We both have the same attitude: no success is not an option. We got to know ourselves well through entrepreneurship. You discover that more is always possible than you thought. The great thing is that our husbands see it the same way. The fact that we are all entrepreneurs makes us understand each other. Also that you sometimes work long hours. It's a way of life that brings both freedom and challenges. And apparently we love that, in our family. Of course we also celebrate the successes together; for example, Kavel 10 and Fruitkracht have both won the Smallingerland Entrepreneur Award once.'
Focus on quality
Because of that entrepreneurial drive, it is possible that Fruitkracht delivery vans are increasingly driving along the roads mapped by Plot 10 to make employees in Groningen, Friesland, Drenthe, Overijssel and even North Holland happy with healthy fruit and vegetable snacks. 'We notice that healthier eating at work is starting to become a trend,' Erika and Yvette tell us. 'Making fruit available is a form of being a good employer. Innovation takes time, but also trust. You need each other to spar with challenges Frank, sales and project supervisor Lot 10 We continue to grow, but invest mainly in quality and streamlining processes. Because of our focus on fruit, expectations are high and we want to work as fresh and sustainable as possible. That's quite a challenge with a seasonal product, but we like to tackle and find ways in which it can be done.'
That growth is not a goal in itself, but a natural development, also applies at Kavel 10. "Above all, we want to deliver good work and continue to innovate. We consciously choose to spread the risk by having a wide variety of clients and remain flexible and fast because we work on a project basis. That leaves room for unexpected assignments, which sometimes also come from abroad. At first we worked mainly here in the North, but thanks to the airplane we soon worked throughout the Netherlands and now we have also done jobs in Belgium, Germany, England and Poland. We keep an eye on a solid base and focus on specialties. That is why we also invest in our team and have people trained internally. We think the fact that we have hardly any turnover here is a good sign.'
Plenty of opportunities
The women behind Fruit Power have also learned to be employers. 'I started on my own and sometimes my mother would help out,' Yvette says with a laugh. 'Now I don't even get around to delivering myself, with a team of twenty people. We value openness and a good atmosphere; I'm sensitive to that myself. We did learn to be clear, that's what the people who work for us expect. That's how you gradually grow into a role as an employer. Erika - in the meantime called away because a new customer presented itself - agrees that Fruitkracht is becoming more and more an efficient company. 'You grow as an entrepreneur yourself. We have made considerable spurts in recent years, although the Northern Netherlands still offers plenty of opportunities in fruit delivery at work.'
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